Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Spinach Salad, Pineapple Pork Chops, Sweet Red Cabbage, Baked Yellow Squash & Bread Pudding in Bourbon Sauce

Yum Yum for this meal, I must say! I love trying new recipes and this one did not disappoint me.

Of course, I live with a man who will eat just about anything, and kids who eat just about nothing. Ha ha, so maybe that's not entirely true. The kids eat some things, but experimenting is out when they are around. My daughter might have eaten a good portion of this meal, so maybe we will try again at anoth
er time with the kids around.

I love salads made of spinach. Fresh spinach makes such wonderful salads, particularly baby spinach. Spinach is also very, very good for us too. It is high in calcium. It is also high in Vitamins A and C, as well as magnesium and folic acid. The flavonoids i
n spinach help protect our memory, and the luteins in spinach are believed to guard against cancer, cataracts, macular degeneration and a world of other ailments. Yes, spinach is certainly good for us!

Pineapple is a natural complement to pork, and adds a bit of sweetness. It also aids you in getting in a fruit serving! Red cabbage, too, has many health benefits. It's high in Vitamin A, C, E and B. Cabbage has actually been shown to boost the immune system's ability t0 produce more antibodies. It also contains compounds shown to stave off certain cancers. And recently, studies have shown that red vegetables, like red cabbage and beets, have the ability to treat ulcers with quite a bit of success. There was a good reason why Mother said to eat your vegetables!!!

Everything in this post is gluten free, with the exception of the Bread Pudding, obviously!!!

Be healthy!

Dinner is

Wilted Spinach Salad
Pineapple Pork Chops
Sweet Red Cabbage
Baked Yellow Squash
Bread Pudding in Bourbon Sauce

Wilted Spinach Salad

  • 1 lbs baby spinach (washed, dried, crisped)
  • 2 hard cooked eggs (coarsely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup water chestnuts (thinly sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lite soy sauce (walmart brand is gluten free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked peppercorns

Cook olive oil and garlic over medium heat in saucepan for 2 minutes
Add soy sauces, water chestnuts and peppercorns. Cook for 1 minute, tossing lightly. Blend in lemon juice. Add spinach and toss.

Transfer to salad bowl and garnish with chopped egg.

Pineapple Pork Chops

  • 4 center cut pork chops
  • 2 tablespoon acceptable vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small can pineapple slices (save the juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Trim fat from chops. Heat oil in skillet then brown the chops on both sides. Season with kosher salt (optional) and pepper.

Add enough water to the pineapple juice to make 1 cup. Add this and cloves to pan with chops. Bring to boil, then turn down heat to simmer.

Simmer covered for one hour.

Add pineapple, and simmer until heated thoroughly. Remove from skillet and place on serving platter.

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with a little water then add to skillet. Whisk until thickened, making gravy. Pour gravy over chops and serve.

Sweet Red Cabbage

  • 1 lb cooked red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small apple, grated
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/4 lb bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peach juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon raw white potato, finely grated

Fry the chopped bacon until slightly browned. Add onion and apple. Cook 5 minutes. Add the rest of ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.

Baked Yellow Squash

  • 4 yellow squash
  • 1 stick of butter, or butter substitute
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion (use a food processor)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan (optional)

Boil whole, un-peeled squash for about 15 minutes.

Drain, cut off stem and cut in half lengthwise. Place in baking dish cut side up. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Cut butter into small pieces and sprinkle over top of squash. Sprinkle with onion, parsley and Parmesan.

Bake in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 30 minutes.

Bread Pudding in Bourbon Sauce

This is NOT kid friendly. Definitely a grown up treat. However, I will include an alternate sauce for your bread pudding if you wanna treat your kids to some as well.

Grown Up Bourbon Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup bourbon whisky

Bread Pudding:

  • 1 loaf french bread, cut into 1 inch squares
  • 1 qt milk
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup raisins (soaked in 1/4 cup bourbon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

In a saucepan, melt butter; add sugar and egg, whisking to blend well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. (Do not allow to simmer, or it may curdle.) Whisk in bourbon to taste. Remove from heat. Whisk before serving. The sauce should be soft, creamy, and smooth.

Bread Pudding:

1 Preheat oven to 350°F.

2 Soak the bread in milk in a large mixing bowl. Press with hands until well mixed and all the milk is absorbed. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, and spices together. Gently stir into the bread mixture. Gently stir the raisins into the mixture.

3 Pour butter into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan. Coat the bottom and the sides of the pan well with the butter. Pour in the bread mix and bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes, until set. The pudding is done when the edges start getting a bit brown and pull away from the edge of the pan. Can also make in individual ramekins.

Serve with bourbon whiskey sauce on the side; pour on to taste. Best fresh and eaten the day it is made. Makes 8-10 servings.

Kid Bread Pudding Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Cook over medium heat in saucepan until thickened. Can be served hot or cold.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gluten Free: Brown Sugar and Dill Cured Salmon, Baby Carrotswith Dill Maple Syrup, and Sherried Green Beans with Mushrooms

This is another one of those "sans kids" recipes. I love family dinners, I do. Despite some of the activity and chaos that children sometimes bring to the table, it has such a wholesome feel to it that I like. But quite dinners alone are also nice and allow us a bit of "adult time".

This is also gluten free, if that interests you.

If you are going to make the salmon in this recipe, it needs to refrigerate for at least 8 hours before cooking. Keep that in mind.

So, on the menu is:

Slow Roasted Brown Sugar and Dill Cured Salmon
Baby Carrots with Dill Maple Syrup

Sherried Green Beans and Mushrooms

Candied Clementines


Slow Roasted Brown Sugar and Dill Cured Salmon
*slow roasting the cured fish gives it a velvety, silken texture

  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped, fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
  • 1 (3-lb) salmon fillet
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard (Heinz is gluten free)

Combine 1st 3 ingredients in bowl. Place fish, skin side down, in a 13x9 inch baking dish. Rub sugar mixture over fish. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Wipe remaining sugar mixture from fish with a paper towel. Coat a jelly roll pan with cooking spray. Place fish, skin side down, in pan. Bake at 175 for one hour and 10 minutes, or until fish flakes easily.

Combine mayo and mustard; stir well. Serve mayo mixture with fish.

Serves 8.

Baby Carrots with Dill-Maple Syrup

  • 2-lb baby carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh dill weed (or 4 teaspoons of dried)
  • Dash of white pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine baby carrots and salt with enough water to cover over high heat. Bring to boil and simmer, covered for 8-10 minutes or until carrots are barely tender. Drain.

Toss carrots with maple syrup, dill weed, and white pepper.

Makes 8 servings.

Sherried Green Beans with Mushrooms

  • 1 1/2 lbs of fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons of butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 3/4 lbs fresh mushroom blend, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped, fresh thyme (3/4 teaspoon, dried thyme)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Steam green beans 5 minutes or until crisp tender; remove from heat.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots to pan and saute 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, saute 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add sherry; bring to boil. Cook until liquid almost evaporates. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and green beans; cook 30 seconds or until thoroughly heated, tossing to coat. Remove from heat. Add parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Makes 8 servings.

Candied Clementines

  • 8 whole clementines, peeled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as triple sec or orange juice
  • fresh mint for garnish

Arrange clementines in 13x9 baking dish (preferably glass), pulling the tops of each clementine slightly apart without detaching the bottoms (like opening petals on a flower)

In medium saucepan, combine sugar, water and lemon juice over medium heat. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring constantly until mixture is clear. Remove from heat and stir in orange liqueur. Cool 15 minutes, or until syrup is lukewarm.

Pour syrup over clementines, making sure they are well coated. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving. Place in a small bowl or goblet and drizzle syrup over it.

12 servings.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rubbed Pork, Mashed Turnips, Sweet Potato Fries with Garlic-Curry Dip, Fennel Green Beans with Feta Cheese

This dinner was kinda different, but very good. You don't hear a lot about turnips, and I don't know why that is. I have to admit, the prospect of turnips never really sounded appetizing to me. I had nothing to go on, really, having never tried them. Perhaps it's the name. Turnip. As in, turnip your nose to them.

A few weeks ago, we visited D's daughter. She has celiac disease, and has an array of foods that are naturally gluten free that she gets creative with. She made mashed turnips for us that night with dinner. I have to admit I was a tad apprehensive about them. I mean, who eats turnips? But I was willing to try them, and am glad I did! She passed along a dish that I will (and have!) use again.

I like green beans, but usually cook them in a more traditional way: with diced onions and a bit of bacon or ham. They're good that way. But I wanted to try something a bit different with them and went searching for a recipe. The one I used, I was unsure of at the beginning. I'd never used fennel to cook, and feta cheese didn't sound like something that would go well with green beans. Lemme tell ya, I was wrong! (and you won't hear me say that often!!)

On the menu was
Rubbed Pork
Mashed Turnips

Sweet Potato Fries with homemade dip

Fennel Green Beans with Feta Cheese

Rubbed Pork

  • 4 boneless loin chops

Ingredients for the Rub:

  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine ingredients and mix thoroughly. Rub Pork and place in oven at 350 degrees. Cook for 45 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.

Mashed Turnips (also called Bashed Neeps by our Scottish friends)


  • 4 medium turnips, peeled and cubed
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup packed bread crumbs (or 1 cup if you use toasted bread)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Boil turnips until tender. Whip turnips with electric beater until fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and whip with blender until well blended. Pour mixture into baking dish and bake for 1 hour at 350.

Sweet Potato Fries with Homemade Garlic-Curry Dip


  • 4 large sweet potatoes, sliced into "fries"
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon curry powder

Mix all ingredients in large bowl and toss. Place on cookie sheet, sprayed with cooking spray, and bake at 350 until tender (about 30 minutes)

Garlic-Curry Dip:
  • 1/4 cup miracle whip
  • 2 small garlic cloves, mashed to paste with salt (or garlic powder)
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • dash of black pepper
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • sea salt to taste

Mix it all together. :)

Fennel Green Beans with Feta
  • 1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1 fennel bulb, cut into think slices
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Fill saucepan 1/2 full of water and bring to boil. Add green beans and fennel; cook until crisp-tender (about 4 minutes). Drain in colander and run cold water over it.

return pan to stove and lower heat to medium. Pour in olive oil and let it heat for a minute. Return green beans and fennel to pan. Season with basil, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until coated and warm. Transfer to serving dish and toss with feta cheese.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Crock Pot Chili

So many chili recipes. This is a different one from the other I have posted, altho I must say I think the other one is best. But this recipe is easy, and can be simmering all day in a crock pot while everyone is at work for the day. How nice to come home to a meal that cooks itself!! My kids will eat this too. Yum.

With the tomato juice, it is hardly a low sodium meal. So, one can easily opt not to use the tomato juice, instead using freshly squeezed tomato juice, or no salt added diced tomatoes from a can pureed in its juices.

Crock Pot Chili

3 lbs lean ground beef (96/4 is best), browned and drained

1/2 diced onion

1 large can of tomato juice

4 tablspns uncooked rice

2 cans no salt added chili beans

1/4 cup sugar

2 tspns chili powder

Mix all ingredients in crock pot. Add water if it is too thick for you. Cook on low in crock pot for 6-8 hours.

This freezes well.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gluten Free! : Cream of Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

I will be including some gluten free recipes, since I have a new cookbook and am experimenting with some recipes. Also, D has a daughter with Celiac disease and she can not tolerate gluten. Since she has lived her whole life following a gluten free diet, I thought it would be wise to get to learn some recipes as well. After all, a gluten free diet is actually a quite healthy one.

Now, we don't plan to go fully gluten free. But, we do have a child with Autism (with whom we tried gluten free out with briefly a few years ago with no real difference) and also, D has some digestive issues and I wonder sometimes if he may have an intolerance to gluten as well. After all, we already know that for his daughter to have the disease that both parents must be carriers for the gene. So, somewhere in his body is the propensity for it. :)

Keep in mind as well, that other recipes that I have posted are gluten free yet not labeled as such. However, if I label a recipe gluten free, it's because it has come from the gluten free cookbook or from my step daughter or because I checked it out first! I have actually been quite surprised at the number of things we eat that are already naturally gluten free, or can be gluten free with a slight substitution.

Tomato soup and grilled cheese is comfort food for just about everyone. It's kid friendly, and easy to make.

For the soup, you will be using a grain called Quinoa, and you should be able to find it in the health section of your store if it's a decent sized store. If you do not use Bob's Red Mill Quinoa, you will need to rinse the Quinoa grains at least three times in water or they will give a bitter taste due to the grain's natural coating that acts as a repellent. The tomato soup is amazingly flavorful.

Dinner Tonight is

Spinach Salad with Homemade gluten free french dressing
Gluten free Cream of Tomato Soup Soup
Grilled Cheese on Tapioca Bread


Spinach Salad

* 1 pound fresh, washed and dried spinach leaves
* 4 slices cooked, chopped gluten-free bacon
* 3 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
* 1 cup thinly sliced red onions
* 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
* 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)

Gluten free French Dressing
* 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 cup sugar (use less if you like a less sweet dressing)
* 1/3 cup gluten-free ketchup
* 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
* 1 teaspoon gluten free Worcestershire sauce (French's)

Place all ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk until sugar dissolves and dressing is smooth and glossy. Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.

Yield- About 1 pint

Cream of Tomato Soup

* 2 cups of water
* 1 cup of whole grain Quinoa, such as Bob's Red Mill
* 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 large sweet onion, diced
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 cup of diced carrots
* 2 stalks celery, diced (I use a food processer)
* 4 cups of gluten free low sodium vegetable broth (such as Imagine)
* 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice
* 2 teaspoons dried basil
* 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 2 cups green onions, chopped
* 1/2 cup milk

In 2 quart saucepan, bring water to boil. Add quinoa and 1/4 tspn of salt. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes (until liquid is absorbed). This will yield 4 cups of cooked quinoa. Set aside.

In heavy pot with tight fitting lid, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in carrots and celery. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook about 10 minutes.

Stir in broth, tomatoes, basil, and vinegar and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt (omit for those with sodium restricted diets), pepper, green onions and milk and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add the cooked quinoa and cook for 10 minutes more, or until soup reaches desired thickness.

Grilled Cheese, Gluten Free

* Butter, softened
* Cooking spray
* 2 slices of Ener-G Tapicoa Loaf
* 2 slices of American Cheese (use Kraft, it's gluten free) or cheddar

Coat skillet with cooking spray and heat over low-medium heat. Spread softened butter on one side of each slice of bread. When skillet is heated, add one slice of bread (butter side down). While it is browning, add slices of cheese and top with 2nd slice of bread, butter side up.

After about 2 minutes, turn sandwich and grill the other side. YUM!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Herb-Roasted Beef and Potatoes with Browned Butter Brussels Sprouts

Some days, I have more time to prepare a nice meal that my husband and I can eat alone. This means that I can get a bit more creative without the picky kids around, and we can have a somewhat nice time to reconnect over food that we would not normally eat. It's certainly an effort sometimes, but worth it!

Ok, so I have to admit that I do not much like Brussels Sprouts. My mother loves them, but I just can not really wrap myself around their flavor.

However, for diversity I do cook some things I do not like. Take peas, for instance. You will rarely see pea recipes on this blog because I absolutely abhor peas. My husband, on the other hand, finds them heavenly. They are one of his favorite foods. So, while I do not go out of my way to fancy up these tiny offenders of my gag reflex, I will on occasion cook frozen baby peas for my husband because that's the kind of thing you do for people that you love (besides having dinner waiting for them when they get home from work). It can be a lot of work, for sure, but on days that the kids are not here, I actually have time to spend on chopping and preparing a nice meal.

This recipe calls for beef shoulder roast, but if you can not find it, you can substitute beef or pork tenderloin just as well.

To save time, you can also use packaged refrigerated potato wedges, which will cook much more quickly than fresh tubulars would take.

Dinner Tonight is

Winter Salad with Roasted Beets and Citrus Reduction Dressing Herb
Roasted Beef


Browned Butter Brussels Sprouts

German Chocolate Mousse

Winter Salad with Roasted Beets and Citrus Reduction Dressing
4 servings


  • 2 medium beets, red and golden
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups torn Boston lettuce
  • 1 cups trimmed watercress
  • 1 cups torn radicchio
  • 1 ounces of crumbled goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Leave root and 1 inch stem on beets; scrub with brush. Place beets on foil lined jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat the beets with cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until tender. Cool beets slightly. Trim roots and stem; rub off skins. Cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges.

Bring juice and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan; cook ten minutes or until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Pour in a medium bowl and cool slightly. Add shallots, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Whisk. Gradually add oil and whisk.

Combine lettuce, watercress, and radicchio. Sprinkle lettuce mixture with remaining salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine. Arrange about 1 cup of lettuce mixture on 4 salad plates. Divide beets evenly among salads, and drizzle dressing on each salad. Sprinkle each salad with about 1 tablespoon of cheese.

Nutritional information: 127 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 253 mg of sodium.

Herb Roasted Beef and Potatoes
yield 4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (8 oz) beef shoulder tenderloin (also called petite tender), trimmed
  • cooking spray
  • 1 (20 oz) package refrigerated potato wedges (like Simply Potatoes)

Preheat broiler

Combine 1 tablespoon of thyme, rosemary, parsley, 1 tablespoon of oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and garlic; rub evenly over both sides of beef. Place beef on rack of broiler pan coated with cooking spray; place rack on pan.

Combine potatoes, remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pepper; Toss. Arrange potato mixture on pan around beef. Broil 7 minutes. turn beef over. Broil 7 more minutes, or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from oven. Place beef on cutting board and let stand 5 minutes. Stir potatoes and sprinkle with remaining thyme. Cut beef across the grain into thin slices and serve with potatoes.

Nutritional information for 3 oz beef and 3/4 cup potatoes: 318 calories, 14 grams fat, 788 mg sodium

Browned Butter Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 lb trimmed, halved brussels sprouts
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Steam brussels sprouts 5 minutes, or until crisp tender. Drain well.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat; cook until butter browns. Add Brussels sprouts. Cook 6 minutes, or until tender, stirring frequently.

Stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper.

German Chocolate Mousse

  • 1 1/3 cup 1% low fat milk
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 oz dark chocolate chips
  • 4 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/4 cup flaked sweet coconut, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Combine 1st three ingredients in a heavy saucepan; let stand 2 minutes. Cook over medium high heat until tiny bubbles form around the edge, but do not boil.

Remove from heat and add chocolate. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until chocolate melts.

Pour chocolate mixture into a medium bowl; cover and chill 30 minutes until set. Gently fold in whipped topping. Spoon 2/3 cup of mousse into dessert bowls. Cover and chill 2 hours. Top each with 1 1/2 teaspoons of coconut and 1 1/2 teaspoons pecans.

Makes 8 servings.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chicken with Homemade BBQ Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Corn and Candied Cranberries in Brandy

Dinner at the I have said a million times, we make great effort for us all to eat at the same time. I believe it's good for kids, so when they are here, D strives to get home from work at a decent hour to make that possible for us to do.

Being how we have been trying to limit our red meats and eat more lean meats, or no meat at all, that usually means that we have to get creative in cooking. I mean, really....just how many ways can you cook chicken?? Besides that, we've virtually cut out table salt from our cooking, and high sodium canned goods. This means more time in preparation with fresh food, but all in all I like it a lot and am quite proud of being able to make something tasty that is also fairly healthy as well as help my husband control his high blood pressure.

Tonight, however, we have the kiddos and that means that I must cook at least some of the old favorites, which tend to be the same ol', same ol'. (The other evening, however, we ate a completely gluten-free meal cooked by D's daughter who has Celiac and it was a refreshing change from the same old meal....but that is to be shared later!) As a matter of fact, I do believe this entire meal is naturally gluten-free as well.

I was out of commercial BBQ sauce, which I usually use when I cook BBQ chicken for the kids. I also had a bag of fresh cranberries that I bought for some purpose that I can't now recall, and I have yet to go grocery shopping for this pay period. That means I must make do with what we have around, and it must be palatable to my picky eaters as well!! We have little prepared food, which means i had to have ingredients to cook!

Potatoes and corn.....a given. I will not include the recipe for the corn, as it was just cooked according to package directions. The mashed potatoes I mix with whipping cream and butter for extra creaminess. Yes, yes I's higher in fat than is ideal, although for 5 lbs of potatoes I only use 1/2 stick of butter and about 1/2 cup of whipping cream. That's the one splurge I continue to make. Mashed potatoes. I've tried various ways to cook them without the butter, and with skim milk, etc etc. Creamy Mashed Potatoes are Manna, is all I can say. The recipe is healthier than most, with very limited salt and butter, and still tastes pretty that's my compromise!

I decided to make my own BBQ sauce tonight, and it was surprisingly simple. My 6 yr old even helped mix the ingredients. The cranberries...well, what can you say? It's not really an everyday staple for most, but I adore fresh cranberries. the kids won't eat them, thus it will be an adult treat. Cranberries are so healthy. They have tons more antioxidants than blueberries, which is known for its high levels of antioxidants. These are cancer fighting foods, folks. Certain antioxidants in cranberries, called proanthocyanidins, also help to hinder certain bad bacteria in the body! Good things, cranberries. Add some sugar and it's all good.

Trivia Fact: The freshest cranberries bounce. After I learned this little fact, I did indeed test it out with my own cranberries. I will tell you that they were quite fresh indeed. :)

Dinner Tonight is

Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce
Creamy Mashed Potatoes


Candied Cranberries in Brandy Sauce


Chicken in Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • 4 chicken breasts, or 12 chicken tenderloins

  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place chicken in a shallow baking dish and place in oven.

Mix sauce ingredients and refrigerate for 1/2 hour. After chicken has cooked for 1/2 hour, remove and drain juices. Add BBQ sauce and cook, covered, for another 30 minutes.

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

  • 5-lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 stick of margarine
  • salt/pepper to taste if you desire

Boil mashed potatoes in large pot until tender. Drain. Add potatoes back to pot and put back on burner for about 30 seconds. Take off burner and add margarine and whipping cream. Beat on high speed with mixer until mashed and fluffy. Add more whipping cream while mixing, a little at a time, if needed.

Candied Cranberries in Brandy Sauce

  • 1 lb fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of brandy

Heat oven to 350. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Rinse cranberries and place in baking dish. Sprinkle with the sugar and cover tightly. Cook for 1 hour.

Remove from oven and let cool. Stir in brandy and sprinkle with additional sugar. Let dry and serve.

Vegetable Night! Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, and Wild Rice

Many people think that sweet potatoes are potatoes when, in fact, they are root vegetables and only distantly related to potatoes. They're also considered low glycemic index, and are highly nutritious being rich in Vitamin A, B6, C, Magnesium, and dietary fiber. I also just recently discovered that they are pretty much the least allergenic food on the planet!

The good thing about sweet potatoes is that they taste like a dessert! Add a tad of cinnamon and a smidgen of brown sugar to them, and you've basically made this very healthy vegetable into something that can fool your sweet tooth.

Some people will peel sweet potatoes, but their skin is packed full of nutrients. So, keep the skin on!!

Baked Sweet Potato
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • vegetable oil
  • margarine to taste
  • cinnamon/sugar substitute

Scrub sweet potatoes; brush each with vegetable oil. Arrange potatoes on oven rack and bake at 450° for 35 to 45 minutes, until tender. Remove at once and prick with a fork to let steam out.

Cut a 1 1/2-inch cross in the center of each potato. Hold each potato with pot holder and press upwards until filling "bursts" up through the cuts.

Top with butter and sprinkle with mixture of cinnamon and sugar substitute.
Serves 4.

Lemon Green Beans

  • 8 ounces fresh green beans, ends cut
  • 1 tspn olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Steam green beans until tender-crisp. Toss with olive oil and grated lemon rind.

Wild Rice with Apples

  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
  • 2 cups chopped pink lady apples (or honey crisp, if available)
  • 1 cup chopped leek
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/8 tspn ground thyme
  • 2 cups wild rice
  • 1/2 tspn black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add apple: saute 7 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Remove from pan.

Reduce heat to medium. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in pan. Add leek; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.. add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in broth, 2 cups water, cider, and thyme; bring to boil.

Stir in rice; reduce heat and simmer 55 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.

Drain and discard excess liquid. Return rice mixture to pan over medium heat. Stir in apple, pecans, and pepper and cook 2 minutes until heated.

Makes 8 servings.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup with Cheese Toast

I have to admit that I am not a big squash eater. But this soup just warms up a cold evening (like most soups do.) That's one reason why I love the colder weather so much, besides the fact that I just hate to be HOT. Autumn and winter is soup season for us, and I really like soup.

This is only one recipe I have for squash soup, and it's creamy and tasty. You won't be disappointed.

Dinner Tonight is

Spinach Salad
Butternut Squash Soup
Cheese Toast

Creamy Rice Pudding

Spinach Salad
Dressing ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon jucie
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (cut to 1/2 tspn for those watching sugar)
  • 1/4 tspn pepper
  • 1/8 tspn salt (omit for low sodium diets)

Combine in large bowl and stir with whisk. Add 6 cups of fresh baby spinach, cherry tomatoes cut in half and toss to coat.

Butternut Squash Soup
(makes 4 1-cup servings)

  • 1 tablspn butter/margarine
  • 3 1/2 cups cubed and peeled butternut squash
  • 3/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium, fat free chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fat free half and half

To prepare soup, melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add squash, carrot, and onion; saute for 12 minutes. Add broth, and bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat to low; simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in half and half.

Place squash mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of lid to allow steam to escape, and secure lid on blender. Blend until smooth. (Careful. Start out slow to avoid splatters of hot mixture)

Cheese Toast

  • 4 1oz slices french bread
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced swiss cheese

Preheat broiler. Arrange bread on baking sheet. Broil for 1 minute or until lightly toasted. Turn bread over and top evenly with swiss cheese. Broil for 1 minute.

Makes 4 servings

Preheat broiler

Low Fat Creamy Rice Pudding
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
  • 1 12 ounce can evaporated fat-free milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
Heat rice, milk, vanilla and sugar in a small saucepan on medium heat, gradually bringing to a simmer, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently until rice is tender and the pudding is thick and creamy. Serve warm or chilled. Stir in extra milk before serving if desired.

Serves 6

Spice Rubbed Pork Chops, Brown Rice, Steamed Broccoli with Parmesan

This is relatively healthy. It's not something I make with the kids around, but it's pretty easy to fix and yummy to eat.

Throw in a salad, if you like, and a fruit parfait for dessert (using nonfat yogurt and fresh fruit).

Spice Rubbed Pork Chops
(2 servings)

  • 2 (3oz) boneless pork chops
  • 1/8 tspn garlic salt
  • 1/4 tspn ground coriander
  • 1/4 tspn ground cumin
  • 1/4 tspn brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tspns. olive oil

Spray skillet with nonstick spray. Heat skillet over medium heat.

Sprinkle pork with garlic salt. Combine other spices in a shallow bowl with the brown sugar. Sprinkle over one side of the pork.

Add oil to pan. Add pork to pan, spice side down. Cook 2 minutes; turn pork over. Cook 4 minutes, or until done.

Brown Rice

Cook according to package directions.

Steamed Broccoli with Parmesan
(2 servings)

Use fresh broccoli, if possible. Chop one bunch if broccoli, and steam until tender, yet firm. (Boil if you do not have a steamer)

Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Maple Glazed Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli-Cheese Casserole

Family dinner bliss! Did you know that families who sit down and eat dinner together all at one table tend to be closer? This has always been something that has been important to me as a mother: to have everyone at the table for dinner. It's not always feasible, but whenever possible I strive for it.

As I've mentioned, I have a picky eater. I really try to have at least one thing on the table that everyone likes, and this is not always easy! Since I plan most meals ahead of time, tho, it's become easier to do it. The kids are not here every single night, as they spend time at their father's as well, and those are the nights that we usually experiment with things the kids would turn their noses up at!

But who doesn't like meatloaf? I mean, other than vegetarians. And cows. There are a variety of recipes for meatloaf, but tonight's is one that happens to be a favorite for my kiddos. Even my autistic one eats it up and asks for more when I make this! It's one of the few beef dishes he'll eat.

Now, it's a bit high in sodium due to the beef bouillon the recipe calls for. This is easily omitted, however, without much sacrifice on flavor if sodium content is something you watch (like we do). The fat content can be manipulated depending on the leanness of the beef you use. We try to use Laura's Lean Ground Beef that is a 96/4 (only 4% fat).

So, Dinner Tonight is:

Garden Salad
Maple Glazed Meatloaf
Mashed Potatoes
Broccoli-Cheese Casserole
Fresh Fruit and Yogurt

Maple Glazed Meatloaf
(6 servings)


  • 1 tspn beef bouillon granules
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, dissolove beef bouillon in hot water. Add the remaining meatloaf ingredients' mix well. Form into individual meatballs

Bake in oven for 30 minutes; open oven and pour half the glaze over top of meatloaf. Place back in oven to bake for another 30 minutes, or until beef is thoroughly cooked. Remove from oven and top with remaining glaze. Let stand 5-10 minutes.

Mashed Potatoes

  • 5-lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/3 stick of margarine
  • salt/pepper to taste

Boil mashed potatoes in large pot until tender. Drain. Add potatoes back to pot and put back on burner for about 30 seconds. Take off burner and add margarine and whipping cream. Beat on high speed with mixer until mashed and fluffy. Add more whipping cream while mixing, a little at a time, if needed.

Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

1 package of frozen chopped broccoli
1stick margarine
1 lb of Velveeta, cut up
1 1/2 stacks of Ritz crackers, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cook broccoli until tender; drain.

In saucepan, melt one stick of butter, then mix with crushed cracker crumbs.

Grease casserole dish and sprinkle half of the cracker mix over the bottom. Add broccoli.

Add cut up Velveeta to broccoli. Add remaining cracker crumb mix.

Bake 15-20 minutes.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Creamy White Italian Bean Soup

The weather is getting cooler, and that means it's time for soups! I love making homemade soups, and D loves it too. It's wonderful to experiment as well as soothing to come home to a nice bowl of hot soup on a cool evening.

`course, as I have mentioned before, we have some picky eaters at home. Sometimes, the soups have to wait until they are somewhere else or else they may get a substitute soup from a can that they do like. There are few soups they like. All of the children love tomato soup, especially if I make grilled cheese to go along with it. They also love chicken noodle soup. When I make potato soup, only one of them eats it. Same with the broccoli and cheese soup (oh it's delicious). And none of them will eat the various bean soups I make, which are all good.

So, our first soup of the Autumn Season is one of our favorite soups: Creamy White Bean Soup with Spinach with cornbread. (REAL cornbread, not from a box)

Creamy White Italian Bean Soup
(makes 6 cups at 295 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving)

  • 1 tblspn vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium celery stalk, diced
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, drained (you can use navy beans; I use dry ones for lower sodium)
  • 1 can chicken broth (I use the low sodium broth)
  • 1/4 tspn pepper
  • 1/8 tspn dry thyme
  • 2 cups water
  • 10-12 oz fresh spinach (I use baby spinach)
  • 1 tblspn lemon juice

  1. In a 3 qt saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery. Cook 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring.
  2. Add beans, broth, pepper, thyme and water. Heat to boiling over high heat.
  3. Reduce to low heat, simmer 15 minutes uncovered.
  4. With a spoon, remove 2 cups of the bean mixture from soup. Blend in a blender, with the middle part of the lid off to allow steam to escape. Add back to the saucepan.
  5. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted. Add lemon juice.
  6. Remove from heat, Serve topped with Parmesan.

Southern Cornbread
(not so healthy, but good)

  • 2 cups of self rising corn meal
  • 1 3/4 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup of oil

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 9 inch ovenproof skillet or 9 inch square pan; place in oven to heat.
  2. In large bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well.
  3. Remove heated pan from oven, and pour batter into the pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lime Marinated Steak and Baked Potato

Another low sodium recipe! We've had this one before, so I am not certain how come I never posted it. Of course, there have been several stints between posts, so time was probably an issue.

The recipe calls for a sirloin steak, but I used a top round because it had less fat (only 4 grams per 3 oz serving). It needs to be marinated for 6- 8 hours, so requires some forethought. Personally, I start marinating the night before I cook it, almost a full 24 hours.

D's blood pressure has dropped significantly in the last few days since we have been focusing more on virtually no sodium again, even for his lunches and snacks. It's down about 50 points. It's still a bit high, but in the not-so-bad high range. I always notice a huge difference in his BP readings when we follow a low sodium diet, as does my own mother who also struggles with high blood pressure.

So, dinner tonight is:
Garden Salad
Lime Marinated Steak
Baked Potato
Skillet Green Beans

Garden Salad

Garden Salad

This salad when using iceburg and without dressing or cheese, contains:

59 calories
0 fat
virtually no sodium
  • 2 cups of lettuce of choice
  • 1/4 yellow squash, sliced
  • 1/4 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 small portobella mushroom, sliced
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 baby carrots, sliced lengthwise
  • Parmesan Cheese (optional)
  • low cal, low fat dressing of choice
  • Add more raw ingredients of choice

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Serve.

Lime Marinated Steak

(note: because this marinade contains lime juice, it's best to marinade in a plastic bag, ceramic bowl or glass. The high acidity can react with metal bowls and cause your meat to have a metallic taste)

  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red hot pepper sauce (optional)
  • 16-oz boneless sirloin steak, all visible fat removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1. For marinade, combine all ingredients except steak in an airtight bag.
2. Add steak and turn to coat. Seal and refrigerate 6-8 hours.
3. Preheat grill to medium heat, or preheat broiler
4. Remove steak from bag and sprinkle with pepper. Discard marinade.
5. Grill steak for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until desired doneness

Makes 4 servings at 3 oz per serving 164 calories 6 grams of fat 59 mg of sodium

Baked Potato

  • 4 medium baking potatoes
  • An acceptable oil
  • light unsalted butter, such as smart balance (optional)

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Slice into the top of the potatoes with a knife, making a large X across the top
3. Rub with oil and wrap in aluminum foil
4. Bake for 60-90 minutes

A medium baked potato contains 161 calories but zero fat and is exceptionally low in sodium with only 17 mg.

Skillet Green Beans

  • 16 ounces fresh green beans
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced in strips
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced in strips
  • 1 small onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter ( we use smart balance)
  • pepper

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
2. Add green beans, peppers, onion, and garlic.
3. Cook slowly, stirring, until peppers are crisp tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Add pepper to taste.

Serves 6 to 8.

Contains approximately 88 calories per 3/4 cup serving, and less than 5 grams of fat per serving. Very little sodium.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Vegetable Night!

We're back to starting to follow a more stringent healthy diet again. This summer we have been lax -- well, really, since the spring. When we cook at home, we're using the same healthful ingredients but the warm weather and kids out of school has brought along with it being away from home. When away from home, it becomes easier and easier to make bad food choices since restaurants are usually involved.

Well, this has finally caught up with us. I've gained about 3-5 lbs and D has gained some as well. Also, his blood pressure shot up sky high this past weekend after we had spent the whole week with the grandkids taking them out to various places. There was healthy food involved, but there was also a lot of bad food involved as well.

So, it's back to cooking at home for dinner and I am also packing D's lunches again. Right now, he is getting mostly raw stuff in his lunch to help bring his blood pressure down, because raw foods have very little sodium. It seems to have worked after the first day. It's not down low, but it's out of the big red danger zone that it was in the other night.

This also means that I am back to buying and using fresh veggies and herbs in the dinners we cook. `tis not bad, just more work. When using fresh food, preparation and chopping is usually involved and it can be time consuming for those who don't have an 30 minutes just to chop the needed ingredient for dinner. The way I look at it is, it's worth it! To be healthy, to get rid of the massive amounts of sodium, fat and calories that is in pre-prepared food or canned goods, it's worth it.

In the meantime, I am hoping that the kids pick up on what they see and grow to think that's the way it should be. I know that my father never allowed sugar in the house unless he was baking, which was usually Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Other than that, we always had artificial sweetner and very seldom used actual sugar. This is something I have carried over from my childhood, as I can actually feel the granules of sugar when it's used in drinks and such and I don't like it! Just as well......we get enough processed sugar in breads and starches and cereals.

Last night we had a couple of things that I have made before, so I am just gonna copy and paste the recipes for those, but I also made a new dish --- Creamed Spinach. I got this recipe out of a low fat cookbook, so it's rather healthy.

This whole meal, with the serving sizes suggested and without dressing or cheese on the salad, is only 271 calories, 5 grams of fat, and virtually no sodium. How's that for a healthy meal??I also included the individual nutritional information with each dish, in case you want to make them separately to add to other dished you may make.

Add non fat yogurt and fresh blueberries/strawberries for dessert!

So Dinner Tonight is:

Garden Salad
Spaghetti Squash
Creamed Spinach
Broiled Tomatoes

Garden Salad

This salad when using iceburg and without dressing or cheese, contains:

59 calories
0 fat
virtually no sodium
  • 2 cups of lettuce of choice
  • 1/4 yellow squash, sliced
  • 1/4 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 small portobella mushroom, sliced
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 baby carrots, sliced lengthwise
  • Parmesan Cheese (optional)
  • low cal, low fat dressing of choice
  • Add more raw ingredients of choice

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Serve.

Spaghetti Squash

1 cup has:
42 calories
0 fat
10 grams of carbs
4 grams of sugar
28 grams of sodium (very, very low)

1. Pre-heat Oven to 400 degrees.

2. After cutting and cleaning the seeds out of the spaghetti squash, place 1/2 cup of water in a casserole dish. Place the squash open side down in the water. Bake for an hour.

3. When you take it out, the outside of the squash will be very very soft, as well as hot. I use an oven mitt to pick up one half of the squash, and take a fork and clean out the inside into a large bowl. It will come out in strands, like spaghetti. Do this with both halves.

4. Use about 1/2 stick of Smart Balance butter (a 50/50 butter blend with omega fats) and toss with the squash.

5. Serve, adding pepper if desired.

Creamed Spinach
Makes 4 servings at 137 calories and 4 grams of fat per serving

  • 2 lbs of fresh spinach
  • 2 cups of 1% milk
  • 1 small shallot clove, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • i teaspoon unsalted butter (we use Smart Balance, a butter blend that's healthier)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch (you can use flour, but cornstarch has no sodium)

1. Trim the spinach and rinse in cold water. Shake and squeeze the excess water from the leaves. Put spinach in a large pot, cover and cook on medium high heat until wilted (about 3 minutes).

2. Pour into colander and rinse with cold water to cool it. Squeeze out excess water and coarsely chop.

3. In a small saucepan, mix milk, shallow, garlic and thyme. Bring to boil, then immediately reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes.

4. When milk mixture is close to finishing, place oil and butter in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat to melt butter. When melted, add the cornstarch and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk.

5. Strain the milk mixture into the flour mixture, stirring constantly with whisk. (Discard the milk solids left behind from the garlic and shallots). Cook, stirring constantly with whisk for about 5, 10 minutes or until thickened.

6. Add the chopped spinach. If sodium is not an issue, season with salt and pepper. Cook one minute to heat thoroughly.

Broiled Tomatoes

One large tomato has about 33 calories, less than 1 gram of fat, virtually no sodium, and comes packs with a good 1/3 of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Of course, they're also a wonderful source of lycopene an antioxidant known for its disease prevention properties. Sinply factor in the sprinkle of parmesan into your calorie intake.
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • basil
  • parmesan cheese

  1. Halve the tomatoes
  2. sprinkle with basil and Parmesan
  3. Broil for 2-3 minutes
Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Slow Cooker Ribs, Corn on the Cob and Cucumber Salad

For a family reunion dish, I chose a slow cooker recipe that I found. Amid the usual hamburgers, hot dogs and fried chicken, I though that it would be a welcome change.

I was correct! I now have a feeling that I will be expected to make this dish every year.

It's good for summer time cookout too. You can complete the last step on the grill as called for, or not. At the reunion, I didn't and it turned out great! I simply added the BBQ sauce to the crock pot instead.

Dinner Tonight is:

Slow Cooker Ribs
Corn on the Cob
Cucumber Salad
Freshly cubed watermelon

Slow Cooker Ribs Ingredients:
  • 3.5 lbs of pork loin back ribs
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 1 medium onion, sliced in strips
  • 1/2 cup cola carbonated beverage
  • 1 1/2 cups of BBQ sauce

1. Spray inside of a 5 qt slow cooker with cooking spray. Remove outer skin from ribs.
2. In small bowl, mix garlic, brown sugar, pepper and liquid smoke. Rub mixture into ribs. Cut ribs in 4-inch pieces. Layer ribs and onion in the slow cooker. Pour carbonated beverage over ribs.
3. Cover; cook on low heat for 8 hours.
4. Heat grill. Remove ribs from slow cooker; drain and discard liquid. Place ribs on grill over medium heat; brush with BBQ sauce. Cover grill. Cook 15 minutes.

Corn on the Cob:

Ears of corn, husked

Seasoned butter:
Beat together one stick softened salted butter, two cloves garlic, one teaspoon pepper and one teaspoon dried dill. The result is amazing on corn.

  1. Soak ears of corn for 15 minutes in water.
  2. Remove corn from water and shake off excess water.
  3. Rub seasoned butter lavishly over corn.
  4. Wrap in aluminum foil and grill over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Cucumber Salad:

  • 3 cucumbers, peeled and cut
  • 8 oz sweet cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 small purple onion, cut
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • squirt of dijon mustard
  • Greek seasoning

1. Add cucumber, tomatoes, and onion to a bowl.
2. In a small bowl add red wine vinegar and dijon mustard. Whisk until miked well. Add oil and whisk.
3. Refrigerate until ready to serve; pour dressing mixture over cucumbers and tomatoes. Add Greek Seasoning to taste. Toss.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tex Mex Beef and Bean Dip

Tonight we're having taco salad, and you can find the healthy recipe here.

But I am also making Beef and Bean Dip. This dip has only 99 calories per 1/4 cup serving (plus 5 baked tortilla chips!) and 2.5 grams of fat. Lots of flavor for little guilt.

To make this dip you will need

1/2 lb ground sirloin (buy the 96/4 if you can)
2 tablespoons no salt added tomato paste
1 to 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15 ounce) canned pinto beans (no salt added), rinsed and drained
1 (14 ounce) can of diced tomatoes (no salt added), undrained
3/4 cup of crumbled queso fresco
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 ounces of bite sized baked tortilla chips (about 60, like Tostitos Scoops)

Cook beef in large skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain well; return beef to pan. Add tomato paste and next 4 ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, or until thick, stirring occasionally.

Spoon meat mixture into a serving bowl; top with crumbled cheese and green onions. Serve with tortilla chips.

12 servings of serving size of 1/4 cup of dip and 5 chips

99 calories 2.5 grams of fat 7.3 grams of protein 11.7 grams carbs 216 (or less) mg of sodium

Monday, April 27, 2009

Meatless Night! Spaghetti Squash, Grilled Portobellos , and Zucchini Bake

This became an acquired taste for me, but D loves it. I'd never heard of spaghetti squash before until I started hunting down more healthy recipes that had variety.

And it is so simple to cook!

To prepare the squash for baking, you need to cut it in half. Once cut in half, you'll need to clean out the seeds like you would a pumpkin. You want to leave the pulp, as this is what will become "spaghetti-like" after it's cooked.

Once you do this, you're ready.

Nutritional Information is as follows:
For 1 cup of spaghetti squash there is 42 calories 28 mg of sodium (wow!! virtually nothing!) 10 grams of carbs, of which 2 grams are dietary fiber & only 4 grams sugar 1 gram of protein
(when/if you add something else, butter for instance, read the nutritional and serving size information on the packaging to add to this if you keep a food journal)

For 1 cup of portobello mushrooms alone there is: 42 calories 12 mg sodium (wow again - very low) 6 grams of carbs, 3 grams of which are dietary fiber 5 grams of protein

This is also a good source of iron. The actual recipe I will give below for the portobellos mixed with ingredients has a total of 76 calories and 4 grams of fat per serving, but I do not have the other information for the recipe as is. The recipe will be for 4 servings. Not sure of the serving size amount, but once you cook it, divide it equally into 4 parts and you'll have your serving size.

The Zuccini Bake Recipe Nutritional Information is as follows per serving. Again, the recipe will make 4 servings, so divide it equally when cooked into 4 parts and you will have your serving size.

114 calories 7.4 grams of fat 8 grams of carbs 2.2 of which are dietary fiber 6.2 grams of protein

Dinner Tonight is: Spaghetti Squash Grilled Portobello Mushrooms Zucchini Bake Fresh Strawberries and blueberries with fat free/sugar free vanilla yogurt

Spaghetti Squash
Pre-heat Oven to 400 degrees.

After cutting and cleaning the seeds out of the spaghetti squash, place 1/2 cup of water in a casserole dish. Place the squash open side down in the water. Bake for an hour.

When you take it out, the outside of the squash will be very very soft, as well as hot. I use an oven mitt to pick up one half of the squash, and take a fork and clean out the inside into a large bowl. It will come out in strands, like spaghetti. Do this with both halves.

Use about 1/2 stick of Smart Balance butter (a 50/50 butter blend with omega fats) and toss with the squash.

Serve, adding pepper if desired.

Grilled Portobellos

  • 2 tablespoons low or no sodium, fat free chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 large potobello mushrooms, stems removed

  1. In large shallow dish, mix broth, oil, vinegar, and thyme. Arrange mushroom caps in single layer in the dish, turning once to coat. Let stand at room temperature, turning occasionally, for one hour.
  2. Cover broiler pan with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Bake mushrooms at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. (Can also grill them directly on the grill for 10 minutes on medium-high heat)

Zucchini Bake

4 medium zucchini
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheese, low fat
1 tablespoon butter (smart balance)
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
ground black pepper to taste

1. Slice the zucchini lengthwise and score diagonally across the top of zucchinis.
2. Place in a baking dish.
3. Baste with melted butter and garlic, sprinkle with cheese and season with pepper to taste.
4. Bake in a moderately hot oven for about 15-20 minutes (or until tender and crisp).

For dessert, mix 1/2 cup of strawberries and 1/2 cup of blueberries with 3/4 cup of fat free/sugar free vanilla yougurt (sweeten with sweet and low if desired) and enjoy! Strawberries and blueberries are chock full of fiber and antioxidants

Chicken and Dumplins' in Crock Pot

This has quickly become a favorite staple in our house, especially for the kiddos. My daughter, who is 6, has taken a liking to helping prepare food for meals and this dish allows her to help in a big way when using refrigerated biscuits for the dumplins'.

The refrigerated biscuits make for more fat in the recipe than I would like, so I use them when in a hurry. This recipe will incorporate making your own dumplins' to make for a more healthy meal overall, but know that even doing it the easy way with biscuit dough is still much more healthy than going out to eat, which is the overall goal for us at least. To be and eat more healthy at home.

You can cook a variety of side items with this. Honey Glazed Pea pods and carrots are good, as well as a side of steamed broccoli sprinkled with a bit of Parmesan. While honey is technically "sugar", it has a lot of healthful properties that gives it a healthful place in moderation while adding tremendously to taste. I mean, after all, who wants to eat "healthy" food that's bland?

First here is the recipe to make your own dumplings. If you do not desire to do this, skip right down to the full recipe that includes the biscuit dough!

Dinner Tonight is:
Chicken and Dumplings in a Crock Pot
Honey Glazed carrots and pea pods
steamed broccoli

Ingredients for Homemade Dumplings:
(makes 8 servings)

1 1/2
cups all-purpose flour

1tablespoon parsley flakes, if desired

2teaspoons baking powder

1/2teaspoon salt (optional for those on low sodium diets, or use less)

3tablespoons shortening

3/4cup 2% milk

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Mix flour, parsley, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until mixture looks like fine crumbs. Stir in milk.

Drop dough by 10 spoonfuls onto hot meat or vegetables in boiling stew (do not drop directly into liquid). Cook uncovered 10 minutes. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer.

Ingredients and directions for slow cooker Chicken and Dumplings
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I use Smart Balance, a 50/50 butter blend with Omega-3 fats)
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup (low sodium)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 (10 ounce) packages refrigerated biscuit dough, torn into pieces (if not making your own dumplings)

Place the chicken, butter, soup, and onion in a slow cooker, and fill with enough water to cover.
  1. Cover, and cook for 5 to 6 hours on High. About 30 minutes before serving, place the torn biscuit (or homemade) dough in the slow cooker. Cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center.
Honey Glazed Pea Pods and Carrots Ingredients and Directions:
(makes 6 servings)

  • 2 cups sliced fresh carrots
  • 1/2 lbs of snow peas (or sugar snap, which I prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (I use smart balance, a 50/50 butter blend)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons of honey

1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add carrots and cook until tender crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Add pea pods and cook until tender crisp; drain and set aside.

2. Melt butter in the same pan and stir in cornstarch. Return carrots and peas to pan and stir in honey. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Steamed Broccoli:

1 lbs of fresh broccoli
Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Place broccoli in a colander and bring water to boil in a large pan. Place colander on top of pan and cover with a large lid. Allow steam from boiling water to steam the broccoli until tender. Serve with Parmesan.