Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Successes

Well, I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with food, friends and family. Now that it is over and the Christmas shopping frenzy is upon us, I am hoping to get my butt back on the fitness train. I have been a lazy, eating machine for about 2 months now and am very disappointed with myself. But rather than complain, I am hoping to get motivated instead and do what I know I have to do if I want anything to change. BUT, before that happens, I will share with you two new recipes I successfully executed for Thanksgiving this year. We were traveling so the dishes had to be cooked in advance and transport well. I hit the mark with both. Here they are.

Bacon and Cheese Deviled Eggs

6 hard boiled eggs
1 Tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 strips bacon, cooked crisp and chopped finely
2 Tbs shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel hard boiled eggs and slice in half
Remove yolks and place in a small mixing bowl
Mix yolks with remaining ingredients until smooth
Pipe mixture back into egg whites.
Chill until ready to serve

NOTE: Because the cheese and bacon make the yolk mixture somewhat chunky, piping it back into the eggs was not easy, the tip kept clogging. The yolk mixture was a little stiff and a small spoon actually worked better than the piping bag. Use whatever works best for you.

Better Broccoli Casserole

3 lbs broccoli florets
1 pint heavy cream
1 leek, chopped
5 strips bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
1/2 Cup chopped portabella mushrooms
1 lb Velveeta cheese, cubed
1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 lb medium cheddar cheese, grated
3 sleeves crackers (ritz, town house), crushed coarsely
1/2 Tbs Black pepper

Reserve 1-2 Tbs of fat from the bacon and saute leeks and mushrooms until softened. Set aside
Bring a large pot of water to a bowl and blanch broccoli. Work in batches if needed.
Drain water and return pot to stove over medium heat.
Add cheeses and cream.
Stir mixture until cheese are melted and smooth
Add bacon, leeks and mushrooms.
Stir to incorporate.
Add 2 sleeves of crushed crackers and broccoli.
Stir until everything is evenly coated with the cheese mixture
Place in a large baking dish at 350 F for 45 minutes
Top with remaining crackers and bake an additional 15 minutes.
Let stand before serving.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mamma Agata's Cooking School

I can't even believe that it happened! Hubby and I went to Italy!!!! It was by far one of the BEST trips I have ever taken. As an added bonus, we spent a day in Ravello at Mamma Agata's Cooking School. Mamma Agata has been cooking all of her life and was much sought after by Hollywood A-listers such as Fred Astaire and Humphrey Bogart. Pretty cool! She even cooked for Jackie O! Anyway, the class was a wonderful experience as her daughter, Chiara, translated and described what Mamma Agata was doing as she prepared about four different entrees for us. We tasted every ingredient and were given preparation tips and tricks. After each preparation we sat down and dined on the delicious courses. It was a day filled with food, wine, beautiful views and good company. I cannot recommend this experience more. It is expensive but it is such a treat. I even recreated some of the recipes for my family upon my return and they came out great. I still haven't quite replicated the eggplant parmesan but that may be because I did not have the correct variety of eggplant available to me. I will continue to look for it though and am certain I'll get the hang of it.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Soup is Good Food!

Well the temperatures are dropping here in New England and, although I do love the summer, I cannot complain. Fall in New England is just gorgeous and the mild dry temperatures are perfect for baking and making and eating SOUP! I love soup. It is so warming and comforting and lifts the spirits on a gloomy day. I have been getting lovely heads of cauliflower in my CSA share lately and this soup was a wonderful way to use it. I swear you may even be able to fool people into thinking they were eating potato soup. You can add some chopped ham to make this a more hearty soup. Another suggestion is to top with bacon crumbles before serving!

 Creamy Cauliflower Cheese Soup

 2-3 Tbs butter
2 leeks, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans chicken broth
2 heads cauliflower florets, trim off any tough or fibrous parts
1 pint heavy cream
1 lb good sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy stock pot melt butter and sauté leeks and garlic until soft

Add chicken broth and cauliflower florets. Cover stock pot and simmer until cauliflower is tender.

Use a potato masher or immersion blender to mash cauliflower. If using a potato masher, transfer mashed mixture to a food processor or traditional blender and puree until smooth and return to stock pot. If mixture becomes too thick add cream or more stock to thin.

Turn heat down to a very low simmer and add cream and cheddar cheese. Stir until smooth

Salt and pepper to taste

Serve hot!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

On the Lighter Side

Wednesdays are my night. Hubby doesn't get home until late, so I get to make whatever I want for dinner. It's all about me - I like that! Another thing I like are avocados - I mean REALLY like! Unfortunately, I am the only one in my family that likes them so I dont eat them very often (sad face). This is partially because most of the things I eat them with only call for a few slices of avocado. The consequence of this is that the rest of the avocado turns into a black disgusting mess in my refrigerator before I get around to using it. Not this time though! I had seen recipes for avocado chicken salad floating around on the internet for some time and, since last night was my night, I finally made some for myself. I accompanied it with some fresh sliced garden tomatoes that I arranged on the plate like a carpaccio. WOW! Talk about a perfect light dinner for a warm end-of-summer night. This is definately going into the Wednesday night rotation!

Tomato Carpaccio with Avocado Chicken Salad

1 ripe avocado
1 can chicken meat or about 1 cup chopped, cooked chicken breast
1 Tbs red onion, copped fine
1 Tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
1 fresh, ripe tomato sliced thin

Arrange tomato slices in a layer on a plate, set aside

Place avocado meat in a bowl and mash with a fork
Add onion, cilantro and lemon and stir to combine
Salt to taste
Gently mix in chicken

Place chicken mixture in center of plate on top of tomatoes.


Quick, simple and delicious!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer Bounty!

Yes, I know it has been a while. As with every summer, this one has been crazy busy. I can't believe it's already August! However, being such, I am happy to report that my tomato plants have been producing like crazy. YAY! What I didn't realize in my haste to get everything planted this spring, is that I put in a few varieties that ripen to orange instead of red. I let a good number rot on the vine before I figured it out, LOL! Needless to say, I am on top of it now and these babies are fan-freaking-tastic! They are wonderfully sweet. Like candy on the vine. I rank them up there with my Brandywines, which are my all time favorite variety of tomato. With all these tomatoes at my disposal, I have been making a very simple pasta dish that my husband absolutely LOVES!  We have had it twice this week already. It is very quick and easy to make and you can add any fresh vegetables to it that you have at your disposal. This latest version we used yellow squash, which also helped make the sauce a lovely pale yellow-orange color. So delicious! Want to make it vegetarian - just leave out the chicken and add some white beans for protein.

Pasta with Fresh Tomato and Parmesan Sauce

1 pound pasta (any variety)
2 Tbs olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4C sweet onion, sliced thin
1 boneless, skinless, chicken breast, sliced thinly
1 yellow squash, julienned
1 qt cherry tomatoes or other fresh garden tomato (cored and chopped roughly)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup pasta water
3/4 -1 cup grated parmesan cheese
6-8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Cook pasta in salted water until almost cooked through, reserve pasta water, drain and set aside
While past is cooking add oil, garlic, onion and tomato into a large, deep, skillet and saute.
When tomatoes look soft, mash with a potato masher to release juices.
Add chicken breast and continue to saute until chicken is no longer pink
Add squash and continue to saute until soft
Add chicken broth and pasta water to skillet
Add partially cooked pasta and let simmer until pasta is al dente adding additional broth or pasta water if needed
Add parmesan cheese and stir to incorporate.
Serve hot and enjoy!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mermaid Parade 2012!

What a freaking BLAST! This is my favorite event of the year and this year did not disappoint! The weather was very hot and people came out in droves! it was so much fun! I even placed third in the best sea creature costume for my mermaid interpretation of a lion fish! HOLY COW! I can't wait until next year but I an stumped at how to top this costume! Good thing I have all year to think about it!

Monday, June 11, 2012

CSA Creativity

So, this year I decided to buy a share at a local CSA farm. I have wanted to do this for a while and, since this particular farm let me purchase a full share in two easy payments rather then shelling out everything at once, I could finally swing it. The shares aren't cheap but when you consider that you are getting fresh organic produce all summer long it really is a good deal (Provided mother nature cooperates). It is also a great way to support your local farms. This being springtime in New England, I am getting a LOT of greens in our share. More than Husband and I could EVER dream of eating. Thankfully, Mom is right down the street and happy to lend a stomach! Our first weeks share had a bag of spinach and some beautiful rainbow chard in it. Now, I know I like spinach but I have to admit, I never ate chard before. So, for an introductory dish, I decided I would put it in quiche with some bacon and garlic. Seriously, what would NOT taste good in that! My instincts served me proper too because, man, was that the best quiche I ever ate! I made one for Mom too and she devoured it. Trust me, if she didn't like it she would say so. LOL! I sort of followed Thomas Keller's quiche recipe but opted for a refrigerated pie crust as opposed to making one from scratch. Yes, pie crust is simple to make but, you know what, I SUCK AT IT! Even after taking a pie making class I just don't make it enough to have it mastered. Plus, I didn't feel like fucking around with dough. Not when I just finished a 10 hour work day and there is some in a box in the refrigerator waiting for me. If you want to make pie crust then by all means do so, but this tastes just fine with a little help from the Pillsbury dough boy - just sayin'.

Bacon, Chard and Spinach Quiche

2 pie crusts (home made or pre made)

1/2 lb bacon, cut into lardons
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 large handfuls of spinach and chard (Mixed), chopped rough, large stems removed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C white wine

2 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

6 large eggs
1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

6 gratings fresh nutmeg

3/4 cup grated  Gruyere cheese

Prebake pie crust until lightly browned. Let cool.

In large saute pan, fry bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside. Drain all but 2 Tbs fat from saute pan.
Add shallots and garlic to pan and saute until soft.
Add spinach/chard mix. saute
Add wine and wilt greens and deglaze pan. Remove from heat when greens are soft.

Combine the milk and cream in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until scalded (meaning a skin begins to form on the surface). Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly, 10 to 15 minutes.

Put eggs, milk and cream teaspoons salt, pepper and nutmeg in a blender and blend on low speed about 5 seconds to mix thoroughly, then increase the speed to high and blend until the batter is light and foamy, about 30 seconds.

Scatter half of the bacon on bottom of pie crusts, top with greens and 1/2 of Gruyere. pour egg mixture over and then add remaining bacon and top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until set in center. Let cool and enjoy!

I had a LOT of egg custard left over so I baked it into mini crustless cheese quiches using silicone baking cups. YUM!

Friday, June 1, 2012

On a Roll!

Well if you thought this post was going to be about rolls, or bread or baking, I am sorry to disappoint you. What I mean by on a roll is, "Look how many posts I have gotten done lately!!! And with pictures, even!" I really am on a roll this week blogwise and I have to admit it feels good. Today I get my first CSA share so you can expect me to be coming up with a lot of new stuff as the fresh produce comes in each week. This week the share is a lot of greens so don't expect too much with that but I will try to do a few different things if I can. Now on to last night's dinner! Fried pork tenderloins in a honey garlic sauce. YUM! It was something of a production to prepare what with all of the pounding and breading and frying. It also left my kitchen in greater disarray than most dinners I prepare. I don't even remember the last time I fried anything so this was something of a treat, if not a little heavy in the belly. Since the heat has been unbearable this week, yesterdays reprise made for a good day to fry without turning the kitchen into an unbearable inferno. I really liked this dish and I think in the future I will use it with chicken that I bake or grill (breading optional) rather than fry. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Crunchy Honey Garlic Pork Tenderloin
Cut tenderloin into pieces and place 1 piece between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound the meat to an even 1/2 inch thickness.

Sift together:

2 cup flour
4 tsp salt
4 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground thyme
2 tsp ground sage
2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Make an egg wash by whisking together:

4 eggs
8 tbsp water

Season the pounded pork fillets with salt and pepper, then dip the meat in the flour and spice mixture. Dip the pork into the eggwash and then a final time into the flour and spice mix, pressing the mix into the meat to get good contact.

Heat a skillet on the stove with about a half inch of canola oil covering the bottom. You will want to carefully regulate the temperature here so that the pork does not brown too quickly.

Drain on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before pouring the Honey Garlic Sauce over the cooked fillets.
Honey Garlic Sauce

In a medium saucepan add:

2 tbsp olive oil
3 – 4 cloves minced garlic

Cook over medium heat to soften the garlic but do not let it brown. Add:

1 cup honey
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tsp ground black pepper

Simmer together for 5-10 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Watch this carefully as it simmers because it can foam up over the pot very easily.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fun with Leftovers

Wednesday night hubby gets home late so it is typically my night to cook dinner just for me. Although, I don't really enjoy eating alone I have to admit that it is nice to be able to feast on things that I don't get to enjoy as much anymore because he wouldn't eat them. Last night was a little different since hubby said he would eat when he got home rather then picking up something on the fly. So, that changed my dinner plans a little bit. Rather than the curry dish I originally planned to make, I made an Italian frittata that I knew he would like. Either way, I used up a bunch of leftovers and that made me happy. I originally saw this recipe on the "The Galley Goumet" website. I prepared mine almost to the letter (I used fewer eggs and added milk to them. I also used tomatoes with italian seasoning in them) and it was delicious. Hubby didn't eat his serving last night (he ate pizza, the big fibber!) and opted to have it reheated for breakfast this morning. He said it was delicious. So, there you go - a dish thats good any time of day! LOL!

Tuscan Frittata Affogata (adapted from The Galley Gourmet)

10 extra large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 ounces (1/2 pound) Italian sausage, casing removed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 medium cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
1 cup crushed tomatoes
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
6-8 fresh basil leaves, torn

Preheat the oven to 350º F. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Cook the sausage breaking up large pieces until browned, 6-8 minutes. Transfer sausage to a separate bowl. Carefully wipe out the pan with a paper towel. In the same pan over medium high heat, warm the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté onion and pepper until softened, about 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the sausage to the pan; pour in the egg mixture. 

Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the eggs are just barely set. Carefully remove the pan from the oven. Turn the broiler on and move the oven rack to the highest position. Spread crushed tomatoes over the eggs and arrange the mozzarella on top. Broil the frittata for 3-5 minutes. Carefully remove the pan from the oven. Slide the frittata onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with the torn basil leaves. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Check it out! I finally remembered to take a picture, LOL! I consider this a personal triumph to say the least, LOL! I will also add that this meal was DY-NO-MITE!!! Hubby loved it as well and devoured every last bite. It was especially nice that I had all of the ingredients on hand as they are all pretty much standard stock in my house. I only marinaded the chicken for a few hours so an overnight marinade would probably be even better. our chicken breasts were totally mutant things so we only used one and filleted it into two serving. Even doing so, my portion was a good 5 ounces so it was still a healthy serving. The original recipe had this being prepared on the grill and served over pasta but I did it on the stove and finished it in the oven and served it with zucchini ribbons. It worked out just fine. I hope you enjoy it however you prepare it!

Chicken Bruschetta

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-2 Cups Italian Salad Dressing

1 large tomato, diced (or 1 basket grape/cherry tomatoes, halved)
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil (chiffonade), dried will do if it is all you have
1/4 Cup good balsamic vinegar
1 Cup shredded mozzarella
parmesan cheese

Preheat over to 400F

Marinade the chicken breasts in the Italian dressing for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Mix tomato, garlic, basil, and balsamic vinegar in a nonreactive bowl and set aside

Add a little bit of the chicken marinade to an over proof skillet and heat.
Add chicken breast and sear on each side.
Pour tomato mixture over chicken and transfer pan to hot oven
Roast for about 20 minutes until chicken is almost done and tomatoes are softened
Top chicken and tomatoes with shredded mozzarella and continue roasting until cheese is melted and chicken is cooked.
Serve over anger hair pasta and/or zucchini ribbons and top with Parmesan cheese

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Trying New Things

With Memorial Day just ahead and the idea of actually putting a swimsuit on at the forefront of my mind, I have been frantically trying to reduce my calorie intake. I have been pretty good at keeping up with the running - the gym, not so much. Hey, something is better than nothing, right. So, as a final attempt to shed pounds I am going with calorie trimming. I am still trying to avoid simple carbs (the fistfulls of almond joy pieces I shoved in my mouth last night were an epic failure of this) while upping my intake of vegetables and lean proteins and reducing my consumption of dairy. Now, there are things I still will NOT budge on, for instance morning coffee. I like it with Splenda and half and half. Try to mess with that and I WILL kill you. I also love cheese. I will concede to try to eat lower fat varieties but will not give it up entirely. My happiness is more important to me than the size of my ass (for now, lol). My attempts at breakfast did not pan out well either. I am just not hungry when I wake up. I keep spelt cakes in the office with all natural almond and peanut butters to ward of hunger when it rears its head. Occasionally I bring a banana in with me or some fat free yogurt with rolled oats and chia seeds and fruit juice. I put all that in a mason jar and shake it up. After a while the oats soften and its a pretty satisfying snack. I need to experiment with more flavors - cocoa powder, splenda and almonds come to mind, may some coconut too. YUM! Last nights experiment was with Textured Vegetable Protein or TVP. It is used as a meat substitute. Since I am not a vegetarian I reconstituted mine with beef broth. I have to say it wasn't bad. I mean it didn't taste like meat but it didn't taste gross either and gave a little texture to my meal. I have seen it used as taco filling and with an egg to bind I would bet it would be an ok veggie burger ingredient. I had mine with soy noodles and vegetables (snap peas, carrots and cauliflower) in a jarred yellow curry sauce (Thai Kitchen brand) that I spiced up with a generous dose of sriracha. It was surprisingly good and to date this was the most enjoyable meal I have made with the soy noodles. I am not sure if it is because I am developing a taste for them or because the sauce was really spicy and delicious but whatever the reason, it was a darn good meal and I got to eat a generous portion because the calorie count was so low. Win-Win!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Indeed my life has been chaotic as of late. needless to say the healthy eating aspect of it has had some ups and downs. But I still keep trying. I have made some delicious things lately too that I have neglected to share. As usual, no pictures but I will try to catch up a little. todays recipe is an epiphany for me as my last attempts at making this were so abyssmal that I almost gave up on the idea. What is this recipe of which I speak you ask?? Mashed cauliflower. I know I have posted about this before but I did some homework and realize what I did wrong. 1- do NOT cook the florets in water!!! NO, NO, NO! Cook with no water in the microwave. 2- Ditch the yogurt. If you are worried about fat content use skim milk. 3- Use a good sharp cheddar cheese. this will mask that cauliflower taste. 4- Use a blender not a food processor to produce and silky creamy end product.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Yummy

So this weekend was Easter and we feasted....and feasted..... and feasted. I will admit it was fun and delicious but today I feel like kaka. Boy, you sure do notice when you fall off of the healthy eating wagon. I am hoping i feel a little less sluggish this afternoon and can make It through my scheduled workout because right now I just want to go home and back to bed. For Easter we had roast beef with ALL the fixin's and then some. My contribution was a broccoli casserole. I used a squash casserole recipe that I had for inspiration and made it up from there.

Broccoli Casserole

4 heads broccoli, chopped into florets
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 soup can full of milk
1Tbs garlic powder
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Cups shredded Monteray Jack cheese
1 box stuffing mix

Mix stuffing mix, cheeses and broccoli florets into a large bowl.
In a separate bowl mix soups, garlic powder and milk until well blended
Add soup mixture to broccoli and stir to incorporate
Transfer to a large casserole dish and bake covered, at 350 for 1 hour or until cooked through

Friday, March 23, 2012

More P90X

So, yesterday was my least favorite of all the p90x workouts that I have done so far - Yoga X. Holy shit! One would think that yoga would be a relaxing experience -NOT THE WAY TONY HORTON DOES IT!!! I swear, the man is a masochist! Not only is the workout difficult, strenuous and painful, IT'S AN HOUR AND A HALF LONG!!! Sweet Jesus, have you no mercy! After I suffered through the thing I wasn't about to ruin all my hard work with a fattening meal. I have been doing fairly well with the eating program thus far but I admit overdoing dairy on Wednesday. I HAD to have some cheese. But I still think I hit my calorie target. Even if I didn't tough! I didn't go crazy and I really wanted it. I ran an extra mile yesterday to compensate. Now, back to dinner. Knowing I had a long workout, I planned ahead and thawed a pork tenderloin overnight. Simple preparation, I put the thawed meat in a zip lock and dumped in a package of ranch seasoning mix. You know, the stuff for dips and dressings. I sealed it up and went to work. While I was in yoga hell, hubby popped it in the oven at 350 and it was done when I was. To go with it I quickly sauteed some zucchini and garlic in olive oil and added some parm cheese when it was done (not too much!). I also made potatoes for hubby and for myself, who is is carb counting, I made mashed cauliflower. Now let me say right off the bat that I am not a huge fan of this vegetable. It's OK. It sure as shit is no substitute for potatoes, let me tell you! But, it was the closest I was going to get to them. I added carrots to them to give them a bit more flavor. Here is how I prepared it.

Erika's P90X Cauliflower Mash

1 bag frozen cauliflower
1 C chicken broth
1 Hand full baby carrots
1 Tbs chopped garlic
1 8 oz container non fat plain greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

place cauliflower, carrots, broth and garlic in a sauce pan. bring to a boil. put lid on pan and reduce to simmer. cook until veggies are tender. Once cooked mash with a potato masher . Stir in yogurt. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I have to say, this took a little getting used to because it is NOT potatoes BUT it did go really well with the pork and zucchini. It is definately a healthier alternative to potatoes for anyone looking to cut the carb intake.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

P90X Eating

So yesterday I bit the bullet and decided to jump in to the P90X pool with both feet. At this moment I can feel my muscles locking up and wonder if I am going to be able to walk out of here this afternoon. LOL! If you didn't already know P90X is a fitness and diet program that claims will transform your body in 90 days IF (and that's the catch) you follow the exercise and diet regime. Now, this is not my first go around with P90X. Prior to my wedding I did the fitness portion of it for 60 days and I have to say I felt pretty darn good about myself. I did notice a gain in strength which was pretty cool. At the time I didn't really need to lose any weight so I didn't bother with the diet plan. Well, since getting married I have put on a good 20 pounds and I do not like it so this time around I am going full bore and following BOTH aspects of the program. For the first month the diet is very high in protein and low in fat and carbs. The most difficult part for me is training myself to eat like a normal person instead of coffee for breakfast followed by water and diet soda all day and a giant dinner. I don't mind cutting out certain foods I love because it gives me an opportunity to experiment with new things (I say this on day 2, LOL!). Last nights experiment was with coleslaw and it was not bad. There is still room for improvement but it went well with my chicken breast so I will continue to work with it until I get it juuuust right. In the meantime, here is what I have to start with!

P90X Phase I, Level I Coleslaw

1 Cup coleslaw mix
1/8-1/4 C rice vinegar
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp dill
pinch salt

Mix everything together and let sit a few minutes before serving.

NOTE: I probably would have added more honey to this but I was near the end of the jar and I could only get about 1 tsp out before I had to abandon it to tend to the other things on the stove. The resulting slaw was very tangy but still not too bad. Again, it went well with my chicken breast that I had sauteed in 2 Tbs of Russian dressing.

Friday, March 9, 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different!

As we all know, I have been trying to maintain healthy eating habits in an effort to shed a few winter pounds before swimsuit season comes around. While I am not sure if I lost anything noticeable, I sure do feel good about myself for how well I am doing. BUT I have been running out of lighter fare ideas for dinner. So, last night I tried something new. This recipe for Roasted Vegetable Pasta came from the blog Stacey Snacks and I have to say that I really like the way this lady cooks! Most everything looks delicious and relatively healthy. She uses a lot of balsamic vinegar which is what had me concerned about making this. I was afraid it would have that vinegar tang reminiscent of salad dressing. To my surprise the roasting process of this recipe sweetened the vinegar and there was nary a tang to be tasted. It was FABULOUS!! So much so that I probably ruined my diet by eating TWO bowls of the stuff. I just couldn't get enough of it! The only variations I made were that I subbed broccoli and zucchini for the cauliflower and brussel sprouts and towards the end of the roasting time I added some cubed, skinless chicken breast to the pan with the tomatoes. I also omitted the peas. SO YUMMY! It was even good cold this morning! I encourage everyone to try it! Just click on the recipe name above to be transported to her recipe!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sick Hubby!

Husband has a man-cold. So not fun for anyone. When hubby is sick he reverts back to a five year old. It's funny how a big tough guy can be reduced to a whimpering pile of goo by a common illness. Needless to say when I asked him if he would like me to make him some soup he was more than agreeable. However, I wa thinking chicken and he came out with Pasta Fagioli. Hmmmm. Not only have I never made this before, I didn't have all the ingredients in the house. That meant a quick stop at our local market on my way home from work. While our market has a GREAT meat department, the deli is somewhat limited and they did not have the pancetta that the recipe called for. Not to be discouraged I substituted with proscuitto and the result was a delicious batch of soup. I think part of its great flavor could be attributed to the home canned tomatoes I used for the broth. That stuff is like liquid gold! Husband gobbled it down and complimented me up and down, which says a lot since he is feeling so lousy. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of the finished product before we polished it all off.

Erika's Pasta Fagioli

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 slices proscuitto
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
2 dried bay leaves Coarse salt and pepper
1 can cannellini beans
2 cans tomato sauce (1 large mason jar home canned tomato)
1 box chicken stock
1/2 lb small pasta

Grated Romano, for the table
Crusty bread, for mopping

Place proscuitto, celery, onion, carrot and garlic in a food processer and chop very fine. Saute mixture in large stock pot with olive oil until vegetables have softened. Add herbs, beans, tomato sauce and stock and bring to a boil. Add pasta. reduce heat and simmer until pasta is al dente. Add water or additional stock if necessary. Serve with Romano cheese and crusty bread.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Licking My Chops!

For dinner that is, LOL! My husband has this love-hate thing with pork. He likes it but sometimes it doesn't like him back. Last time we had pork it was ribs and they made him sick so he was a little reluctant to try this evenings dinner. But he is such a good sport, not only did he eat them but he also braved cous cous for the first time. I am happy to say he enjoyed both and neither made him sick. He did say the cous cous took a little getting used to though. Still, he ate it without complaint and didn't say it was gross so that pretty much means he liked it.

This recipe actually turned out well however, in the future I think I would marinate the chops in the honey mustard to impart more of the flavor. The flavor when prepared as described below is very subtle but still there. If you prefer a crispier coating you could certainly fry the chops in oil but we are trying to watch the fat so in the oven they went.

Honey Mustard and Onion Pork Chops
2 Pork Loin Chops - with or without bone
1 tbs Honey
1 Tbs yellow mustard
1 egg
1/2 C panko
1/2 Cup fried onions, pulverized in food processor

Preheat oven to 400 F

Combine honey, mustard and egg in a shallow bowl and combine thoroughly with a pork or whisk

Combine onions and panko on a plate

Dip chops in egg mixture and then press into panko mixture to coat

Bake on a wire rack set in a pan for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Easy Comfort

So last night hubby was going to eat out with the boys. This means I got to make something for myself - ALL for myself. None of that, "I don't like that" shit! Yippee! The only problem was I had too many things to choose from and had a hard time deciding. Even after a 2.5 mile run I was still undecided! I had polenta, quinoa, hummus - what to do! By the time I got home from work, dropped hubby off, returned home and fed the dogs, my thoughts had shifted from what can I make for my self to what can I have on my plate in the next 10 minutes. With that I concocted the most delicious treat for myself and I kept it on the lean side as I am still trying to cut the fat and calories where I can. Success all the way around! What was my dinner - Italian sausage and broccoli over cheesy polenta. OMG YUM!!! I mixed the Italian sausage with some lean ground beef and browned and drained it to cut out some of the fat. I also prepared the polenta with just water and salt instead of my usual half and half and chicken stock. I restrained myself with the cheese too. All in all I ended up with a delicious, comforting meal that was not too fattening and very tasty! Hope you like it!

Sausage and Broccoli with Cheesy Polenta

1-2 Sweet Italian sausages
1/4 Lb lean ground beef
1 head broccoli
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbs olive oil (if needed)
crushed red pepper flakes

1 Cup instant polenta
2-3 Cups water
salt to taste
1/4 C shredded Cheddar Cheese

Brown ground beef and sausage in a pan until cooked, drain fat and set aside
Add oil, garlic and broccoli to pan and saute until broccoli is is crisp tender
Return meat mixture to pan and add red pepper flakes to taste

While meat is browning bring 2-3 cups water to a boil in a medium sauce pan.
Add polenta and reduce heat, stirring frequently
When polenta is soft add salt to taste and cheddar cheese
Once cheese is melted and fully incorporated transfer polenta to a plate and top with meat and broccoli mixture


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shedding Pounds

I have to admit that I have jumped on the spring bandwagon and have made a conscious effort to lose a few pounds before spring sets in. The main motivations are 1- Mermaid Parade - I have registered and want to look fabulous in my costume (if I ever get it done) and 2 - I don't want to be disappointed when I switch from the winter to summer wardrobe and find that NONE of my shorts fit me anymore. When we went to Las Vegas in October I was VERY surprised at how uncomfortable many of them had become and I know I have added even more weight since then. So, starting this week I have gotten back into my exercise routine AND have been making better choices regarding what and how I eat. Usually I would go all day with nothing to eat other than diet soda and then go home and eat everything in sight. Now, I keep a package of celery in the office fridge to munch on during the day. I do dip it in a little honey mustard dressing to give it some flavor but I certainly don't drown it in the stuff. I am trying to stay away from bready, buttery and creamy things. I still eat pasta - but in moderation and put cream in my coffee and take a swig out of the milk jug (yes, I do that) every now and then but no more alfredo, nachos with cheese sauce or any of that crap. My Ice Cream consumption has been reduced to a few spoon fulls when I simply MUST have it. Portion control and healthier choices - that's how I am approaching this. Brown rice instead of white. Salads instead of sandwiches. And when I do eat bread, rye instead of white. So far it seems to be working. I recently was able to zip up a skirt I had fatted out of a while back (YAY). Small victories mean a lot! Anyway, after a 4 mile run and a hardcore 1 hour cardio kickboxing session, I went home and made this for hubby and I. Ideally I would have used whole wheat pasta but since I have an entire cupboard full of the regular stuff I opted for that but controlled the portion. All in all it was very tasty and definitely not extremely fattening.

Erika's Chicken Saute with Grape Tomatoes and Broccoli

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and diced
Salt and Pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic
10 grape tomatoes, halved
1 Cup chopped broccoli florets
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup white wine
2 green onions, chopped

1 small handful linguine, cooked to al dente

Parmesan Cheese

Season chicken with salt and pepper and saute in olive oil with garlic until almost cooked through
deglaze pan with wine and add lemon juice
Add broccoli then tomatoes
Continue cooking until chicken is cooked through
Stir in green onions
Serve over linguini with a little grated parmesan

For the record, this recipe was inspired by this picture I saw on Pinterest. One look and I knew what I was making for dinner!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Super Bowl Snacking

Yes, we went to a Superbowl party. Yes, I drank too much. Yes, I didn't make it into work yesterday. Yes, they should make the day after the Superbowl National Holiday. Seriously.

This year I made this pizza bubble ring brought to you by the creative minds over at Pillsbury. So easy to make and delicious too. This was well received at the party and will become one of my go to party recipes. I used the standard homestyle grand biscuits and cut each in half to stuff. Work out just fine!

Friday, February 3, 2012

A little something different

So, the hubby and I have decided to try and eat a little bit healthier. Nothing too extreme, mind you, LOL! We are just feeling like fat slobs these days. All week I have been trying to cook a little lighter, using less cheese and cream in the recipes. The fact that it has been a very mild winter is helpful because I am not craving rich heavy meals like I would normally in the winter. This week we had chicken ravioli in a light wine and tomato sauce, lemon chicken over spaghettini, corned beef with barley and vegetables and last night we went a little heavier with stuffed peppers. Now, right off the bat I get negative comments from the hubby - "I never really cared for stuffed peppers". Well, that's because you have never had MINE! Shut up and eat it or die! (I didn't really say the eat it or die part but I thought it really loudly, LOL). Now it's no secret that I love, love, love Mexican food so I decided to make these stuffed peppers with a south of the border twist. Needless to say hubby has joined the dark side and now likes stuffed peppers, at least this version, anyway. As with all my recipes, everything is approximate. I am too lazy to measure, LOL!

South of the Border Stuffed Peppers

3 Red Bell Peppers
1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 C uncooked white rice
1 can rotel tomatoes (UNDRAINED)
2Tbs tomato sauce
1 carton chicken broth
1 package Goya Sazon Cilantro-Achiote Seasoning
salt to taste

1lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1Tbs garlic powder
1 Can kuners Southwest Black Beans with Cumin and Chili spiced (UNDRAINED)
1C shredded cheddar cheese
salt to taste

1 can enchilada sauce or salsa verde

Pre heat over to 400F

Cut the tops off of the red peppers and clean out insides, set aside reserving tops

In a medium sauce pan bring about 1 cup of chicken stock to a boil. When boiling add rice, rotel, tomato sauce and goya packet. reduce heat to a simmer and cook until rice is tender. add additional stock if needed. salt to taste

While rice is cooking brown ground beef with chopped onion, drain off fat. Turn off heat and add garlic, salt and beans. Stir to combine. Add shredded cheese and stir to combine

Add rice to meat mixture and stir to combine

Stuff rice/beef mixture into peppers and stand upright is a baking dish. Top with additional cheese and pepper tops. Pour enchilada sauce or salsa verde over peppers. Cover with foil and bake at 400F for approximately 30 min or until peppers are soft. Serve with sour cream and avocado slices. Enjoy!

You will most likely have more filling for these peppers than you will need (a LOT more) so use it inside a burrito or quesadilla or just eat it by itself! The filling would also taste good with shredded chicken instead of beef or even as a vegetarian option.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Meatloaf v3 (Off-the-Hook!)

I am firmly starting to believe that the secret to kick-ass meatloaf is.....Stove Top Stuffing! I shit you not! This is the second time I have used it in meatloaf and, just like last time, the meatloaf cam out off-the-hook good!

Off the Hook Meatloaf

1.5 Lbs ground beef
1 box Savory Herb Stove Top Stuffing Mix
1/2 sweet onion, chopped fine
2 large cloves garlic, chopped fine
3 eggs
3/4 C milk
2-3 Tbs yellow mustard
1/4 C ketchup
generous pinch kosher salt
2 slices deli Swiss cheese torn to pieces
4 slices deli American cheese, torn to pieces

Ketchup for glaze

Mix everything together in a large bowl until combined. Shape int a log on a foil lined baking dish. spread a thin layer of ketchup all over the surface. Bake at 375 for about an hour. Let sit for a few before serving. Chow Down!