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.