Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Marinated Grilled Apples with Mint

July 7, 2011
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This dessert was absolutely fabulous, and a great end to our vegetarian grilling adventure.  I used my new juicer and some really delicious fresh oranges, and I think it made all the difference (so shy away from the ol’ Tropicana if you can).  We served this with some vanilla frozen yogurt, and it was heavenly!

  • 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, cored and each cut crosswise into 4 (1/2-inch) slices
  • Cooking spray

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add apple slices; seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 to 2 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Prepare grill.

Remove apple from bag, reserving marinade. Place apple slices on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side, turning and basting frequently with reserved marinade. Arrange apple slices on a platter; drizzle with any remaining marinade.


Recipe: Tandoori Tofu and Vegetable Kebabs

July 7, 2011
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For our vegetarian/grilled dinner party, I served these kebabs as the entree.  The marinade was great, but unfortunately the tofu didn’t seem to really absorb much of it.  Perhaps a longer marinating period would help?

We ommitted the rice, since we were having a bunch of other food, but we added some sweet potato cubes (par-cooked) to the skewers and they were actually the tastiest part of the dish.

  • 1 (16-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu, drained and cut into 16 cubes
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 16 large mushrooms (about 10 ounces)
  • 2 small red onions, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 1 1/3 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided

Preheat oven to 375°.

Arrange tofu in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until tofu releases 3 or more tablespoons liquid.

Prepare grill.

Combine chopped onion and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl. Add tofu, mushrooms, and onion wedges; toss gently to coat. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

While tofu and vegetables marinate, prepare rice. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan; stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in raisins and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let stand 5 minutes; fluff with a fork.

Remove tofu and vegetables from bowl; discard marinade. Thread tofu cubes, mushrooms, and onion wedges alternately onto 8 (6-inch) skewers. Lightly coat kebabs with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Place kebabs on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Serve with rice.


Recipe: Grilled Eggplant with Caramelized Onions and Fennel

July 7, 2011
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One of our favorite couples to go out with has a big problem – the Mrs. is a vegetarian.  I know what you’re thinking – they must be VERY cool for us to hang out with them in spite of such a glaring personality flaw.  ;-)

I kid, of course.  We wanted to have this dynamic duo over, so I took on not one but TWO culinary challenges.  First, I would make sure the meal was both vegetarian AND delicious.  And second, since the weather was warming up nicely, I would make sure that every course – including dessert – had some sort of grilled component.

This was the appetizer I served, and it was very light and refreshing.  For those of you who are not fennel fans, have no fear – caramelizing it with the onions mellows it out significantly.  Plus, there is so much good stuff going on in this salad, you won’t taste any licorice-esque flavors at all.

  • 1 (1 1/4-pound) eggplant (about 4-inch diameter), peeled
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 3/4 cups chopped fennel bulb (about 1 large bulb)
  • 2 cups finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cups trimmed arugula
  • 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Prepare grill to medium heat.

Cut eggplant crosswise into 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices. Lightly coat both sides of eggplant slices with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Place on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 7 minutes on each side or until browned. Set eggplant slices aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fennel and onion; sauté 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned.

Combine remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, arugula, vinegar, and oil in a medium bowl; toss gently to coat. Divide arugula mixture evenly among 8 appetizer plates; top each serving with 1 eggplant slice. Arrange about 1/3 cup fennel mixture on each eggplant slice; top with 2 tablespoons tomatoes and 1 tablespoon cheese. Sprinkle the chopped basil and thyme evenly over cheese.


Recipe: Macaroni Salad with Bacon, Peas, and Creamy Dijon Dressing

July 7, 2011
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When the fabulous Lemmonex came to visit me for my birthday, we threw a deck party of epic proportions (okay, maybe that’s pushing it, but it was a darn good time).  She and I wowed all of our guests with homemade deliciousness, including this awesome pasta salad.  It had just enough bacon and creaminess to be really satisfying, but it also had plenty of veggies and herbs and other punchy flavors to keep it fun and healthy (well, healthier, anyway).  It was great on its own, but it was also good leftover with some grilled chicken on top.

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Salad:

  • 8 ounces uncooked large elbow macaroni
  • 2/3 cup fresh green peas
  • 2/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 2/3 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 3 lower-sodium bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

To prepare dressing, combine first 9 ingredients in a food processor, and process until smooth. Cover and chill.

To prepare salad, cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; add peas during the last 3 minutes of cooking time. Drain; rinse with cold water. Drain. Combine pasta mixture, bell pepper, and next 4 ingredients (through rind) in a large bowl. Toss pasta mixture with half of dressing. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Toss salad with remaining dressing, and sprinkle with crumbled bacon; serve immediately.


Recipe: Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash

July 7, 2011
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This dish ranks in the top ten I cooked all year – seriously, it was that delicious.  And it made the whole house smell super yummy!  I was a total lazy ass and bought pre-peeled, pre-chopped butternut squash, and I was so much happier.  Sometimes, paying for convenience can keep you sane after a rough day/week/month.

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (1-pound) beef shoulder roast or petite tender roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 shallots, quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add beef; toss well to coat.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef and shallots; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes. Add squash; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Sprinkle with cilantro.


Recipe: Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Pecan

July 7, 2011
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Think your family won’t eat brussels sprouts?  Well, you might be able to con them into it with this recipe.  Between the onion, thyme, and lemon, the sometimes harsh and cabbage-esque flavor of the brussels sprouts is lightened and brightened.  Then, the pecans and the caramelization add a nutty flavor that really works with the dish.  I thought I’d have some leftovers to keep for myself, but my family scarfed up the whole thing!

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups prechopped onion
  • 1/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add thyme and onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add broth and Brussels sprouts; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Stir in pecans, lemon rind, lemon juice, and black pepper.

You can see a photo here.


Recipe: Couscous Stuffed Chicken

July 7, 2011
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This dish was absolutely delicious, though it was a little more labor-intensive than I originally thought (mixing both the pounding and stuffing techniques highlighted in Cooking Light).  I omitted the olives and substituted goat cheese for feta, but either way would work, depending on your preferences.  Rather than wooden picks to secure the rolled-up breasts, I would recommend kitchen twine – I think it would result in far less cursing and frustration.  :-)

  • 1/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 3 tablespoons chopped plum tomato
  • 2 tablespoons kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray

Bring broth to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat. Stir in couscous. Cover and let stand 4 minutes. Place couscous in a small bowl; fluff with a fork. Cool for 10 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and next 8 ingredients (through garlic); toss.

Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness. Divide couscous mixture evenly among breast halves; roll up jelly-roll fashion. Secure with wooden picks. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook for 6 minutes or until browned; turn chicken over. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes or until chicken is done.


Recipe: Sweet and Sour Chicken

July 7, 2011
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Here’s another Cooking Light chicken dish that features pounding – a great meal to prepare after a stressful day at the office.  Hey, better to take your frustration out on a boneless, skinless breast than your boss!  This was great with brown rice and steamed veggies.  Tastier and healthier than take-out!

  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons Thai chile paste
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro leaves

Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle chicken with salt and black pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan. Add chicken; sauté 3 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer chicken to a serving platter. Add chicken broth, apricot preserves, and soy sauce to pan; bring to a boil. Stir. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in fresh lime juice and Thai chile paste. Spoon over chicken; garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, if desired.


Recipe: Chicken with Cherry Tomato Sauce

July 7, 2011
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This is another recipe from the “all chicken, all the time” edition of Cooking Light, in which they highlighted a number of techniques for preparing poultry (stuffing, marinating, pounding, that sort of thing).  This dish was in the “pounding” section, and it was quite tasty, considering how simple it is.  I cannot stress how much easier your life will be if you just go ahead and buy a good kitchen mallet.  My days of pounding with the bottom of a saucepan are OVER!

  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • Garnish: 1/4 cup small basil leaves

Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan. Add chicken; sauté for 3 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer to a serving platter. Add coarsely chopped garlic cloves to pan; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in cherry tomatoes and chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon over chicken. Garnish with small basil leaves.


Recipe: Buffalo Chicken

June 6, 2011
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Whew, what a weekend!  We were in Charleston for a wedding, and we definitely had some tasty treats (perhaps I will discuss in a future post).  Back on the healthy eating bandwagon, at least until our next travel adventure – a trip to California wine country in July!

A few months back, Cooking Light did a feature about various chicken preparations – there were sections on pounding, marinating, stuffing, that sort of thing.  In the marinating section, I found this recipe for a lightened-up version of buffalo chicken, which I figured would be very popular in my house since my husband loves his wings.  Overall, the dish was flavorful and simple, though I will warn you about the one negative – this recipe generates some serious smoke!  Definitely run a ceiling fan or open a window while you’re cooking, or you might need a gas mask.  Otherwise, enjoy!  :-)

  • 3/4 cup hot sauce (such as Crystal)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Light ranch dressing (optional)

Combine hot sauce, melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, and onion powder in a bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup hot sauce mixture; pour remaining hot sauce mixture in a zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken breast halves to bag; seal. Marinate at room temperature 20 minutes. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade in bag. Sprinkle chicken with salt. Add chicken to pan; sauté 6 minutes on each side or until done. Brush reserved marinade over chicken. Serve with light ranch dressing, if desired.

Serving: 1 chicken breast half (6 ounces)

Per serving: 221 cal, 8.1 g fat, 0 g carbs, 655 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein*

* I have no idea how a chicken recipe has no protein, but hey, I’m just the messenger!


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