Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Semester is Almost OVER!!

As you can all see, the last time I posted was September 1st, just 1 week into the fall semester. I'm sure most of you had no idea I was finishing up my Master's this fall. However, this semester has been abducted by none other than a thesis project. Due date is December 18, and then I have oral exams in the first week or two of January. After all this has passed, I shall return. I shall return with some new features and ideas that I've thought up since September but have had no time to implement. Just wait. You'll like it. I think.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lemon Basil Porkchops with Parmesan Zucchini Chips

The end of summer is sad in some ways. It's obviously the end of warm nights and burning hot days; it's the end of lazy afternoons by a pool; and it's the end of grilling out for dinner! September and fall brings benefits of it's own-- fresh picked apples, warm comfort foods, and football, to name just a few. But before the cool days get here, I wanted to make some summery tasting foods. This is when I came up with lemon basil pork chops. The tart lemon mixes so wonderfully with fresh basil to give the other white meat a crisp and light taste. I paired it with baked parmesan zucchini chips for some crunch, but you could easily serve a fresh salad with a balsamic vinaigrette if you don't want to turn on the oven. The recipe is simple, and quick to make... perfect for summer evenings when you'd rather sit outside on the patio with a glass of wine than slave in a kitchen!

Lemon Basil Porkchops
  • 2 boneless, butterflied, lean pork chops
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • a handfull of fresh basil leaves julienned
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • cooking spray
1. In a medium sized bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil and basil. whisk until juice and oil are well blended.
2. Sprinkle pork chops with a little salt and pepper. Place pork chops into lemon & oil mixture. Turn to coat.
3. Allow to marinate about 15 minutes. (good time to work on the parmesan zucchini chips!)
4. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium high heat (about a 6 out of 10). Spray with cooking spray.
5. Grill chops until done, about 5-6 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.

Parmesan Zucchini chips
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced into thin 'chips' horizontally. I used my vegetable peeler to get them really thin
  • about 2 Tbsp olive oil in a shallow dish
  • about 1/2 cup of very finely grated Parmesan cheese in a shallow dish
  • pepper (do not use extra salt! The Parmesan is salty enough!)
1. preheat oven to 475°. Spray a light layer of cooking spray on a baking sheet.
2. Create an assembly line of zucchini, then olive oil, and finally the Parmesan with some pepper sprinkled in.
3. Lightly coat each zucchini chip with olive oil and then Parmesan. You don't need a thick coating, just a light dusting.
4. Place onto the sprayed cooking sheet.
5. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and flip chips if they look as though they're getting too brown. This might not be necessary, use your judgment so they don't burn!
6. Bake another 5 minutes, until chips are golden brown.

Carb options
This would be delicious with some sort of grilled/warmed pita bread! Also, you could add some panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) to the Parmesan and pepper mixture on the zucchini chips.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mesquite Shrimp Salad

I have been blessed for almost the entire month of August to have Scott come home every day for lunch. It's been so great to have an extra 45 minutes every day just to hang out with him. But it also means I need to figure out an additional meal every day! This is a salad that would be wonderful for lunch (though, we did actually have it for dinner last week).

The inspiration for this salad is a salad that my best friend, Megan, used to eat every time we went to Logan's Roadhouse in Huntsville. It is no longer on the menu there, so I really just thought about what a Texas rancher would eat on his shrimp salad if he ever were to eat a salad. Therefore, this may be the most manly salad ever. Scott agrees. But, it's healthy, too! :) Enjoy!

Mesquite Shrimp Salad
makes 2 salads
  • 1/2 lbs shrimp (deheaded, deveined, deshelled, de-everythinged)
  • 2 tsp McCormick's mesquite seasoning (you could probably find an off brand, but this is the best grocery store brand of mesquite! )
  • 2 bowls full of Lettuce chopped, probably about 2-3 cups (I used a combination of Boston, red leaf, and something really curly I got at the Farmer's Market)
  • 10 grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • two large pinches of julienned carrots
  • 4 Tbsps shredded colby jack cheese
  • 4 slices bacon (turkey, if you want to REALLY sneak it past your cowboy!) crispy and chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 2-3 bread & butter pickles (if you're not on the diet! they're too sugary otherwise)
  • 2 Tbsp chipotle ranch dressing (recipe follows)
1. Pre-heat a medium sized skillet to medium high heat (6/10) with a good spritz of cooking spray.
2. Add shrimp to pan, and immediately add mesquite seasoning. Go ahead and add more than the recipe says if the shrimp don't look covered enough. You want them well seasoned.
3. Cook shrimp 3-5 minutes, until shrimp are curled and pink and completely opaque.

1. Layer half of lettuce, onions, carrots, cheese, tomatoes, bacon, avocado and pickles in a bowl. Do the same with the other bowl.
2. drizzle with chipotle ranch (or any other dressing of your choice) dressing.
3. Top each bowl with half of sauteed shrimp.

** You could also skewer and grill the shrimp, which is most likely the way Logan's Roadhouse cooked their shrimp. However, sauteeing in my bacon grease was much more appealing to me... plus, I don't have an outdoor grill.

Chipotle Ranch Dressing-- home-mixed... not home made
  • 4 Tbsp ranch dressing, depending on how much dressing you want on each salad (my favorite is the Bolthouse yogurt ranch... amazing ranch taste, lower in calories, fat and sugar... for the times you just need something creamy!)
  • about 1/4 of a tsp of the adobe sauce that comes in the can with chipotle peppers.
1. Mix the two ingredients in a separate bowl.


Carb options
I served this with some toaster cakes (the flat corn cakes that Thomas, the english muffin company, makes) for Scott. It would be wonderful with corn muffins, regular corn bread, or johnny cake.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Naked" Calzone, AKA the sausage, pepper, spinach & tomato skillet

My husband loves pizza. Even before the diet, I could really do without it, but now that I can't have it I occasionally crave it. Does you ever have that problem? A food you don't really care for, but once you can't have it, you NEED it?

Last week I really wanted to impress Scott. I don't know why really. Maybe it's because I was gone for 2 months and didn't cook a thing or maybe it's just because I love him and I want him to think I'm cool. So in addition to the southwestern eggrolls in the previous post, I decided to make a calzone for him. Since I can't eat the dough part, I decided to cheat and purchase the pizza dough. Luckily, Price Chopper (my closest grocery store) has handmade dough available in their bakery section! It's right next to the filled cannolis, so watch out! But they even have a whole wheat option. Therefore, I just bought a ball of whole wheat pizza dough there. You are welcome to make your own from scratch if you feel like it. I've done it before, and it's not difficult, just a little more time consuming for a weeknight dinner that I wanted it to be.

After throwing Scott's full calzone into the oven, I simply made myself a delicious salad and plated up some of the filling for myself and topped it with a sprinkle of part skim mozzarella and parmesan. It really knocked out my pizza craving because the spicy, tomatoey, gooeyness was there without the carby crust.

The great thing about this recipe is you don't need to follow it!! Because of mine and Scott's affinity for sausage, that's what I used for a stuffing. And onions with red and yellow bell peppers just go well with that in my mind. However, you could use hamburger, pepperoni, grilled chicken, mushrooms, black olives, and on and on! The principle is the same. Follow the step by step in the recipe for any ingredient you choose to include!

Calzone (Naked and Fully Clothed varieties)
  • premade, "raw" pizza dough (meaning, not already rolled out and baked into a crust); optional
  • low fat Italian sausage (or any other meat you want. Or not)
  • red & yellow bell peppers, diced (or any other veggie. Think sauteed mushrooms, sliced black olives, green peppers-- anything you'd want on a regular pizza)
  • onion, diced
  • fresh spinach (because you need to sneak in some greens... I promise you don't taste it)
  • about 1 cup pizza sauce (I use Ragu from jar. you can use more or less sauce depending on how you like it)
  • cooking spray
** Preheat oven (and pizza stone if you have it, or cookie sheet) to 500°
1. Brown sausage in a very small amount of cooking spray over medium-high heat until fully cooked. You will need to cook any meat that you put into the calzone before mixing it with other things. Remove meat from skillet after done and set aside.
2. Add another spritz of cooking spray to your pan. Add in any veggies you want, still over medium high heat. Note that onions and bell peppers will need more time to cook than mushrooms. So add the more hardy veggies first, and then after a few minutes, add in the softer ones.
3. Add sausage back to skillet. Spoon pizza sauce over meat and vegetables. Reduce heat to medium low. Allow all ingredients to heat up.
4. Meanwhile, divide dough (each ball of dough will make at least 2 very large calzones, 4 medium ones).
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to around a 1/8 inch thick, 12 inch in diameter circle.
6. Once filling is well heated, add a good handful of fresh spinach leaves. Stir until wilted and incorporated.
7. Evenly divide filling from skillet onto half of dough. Be sure to set aside filling for yourself if you're not wrapping it!!
8. Sprinkle filling with mozzarella or parmesan or both.
9. Fold empty side of dough over and crimp along the edges to seal as best as possible.
10. Using a large floured spatula, transfer calzones to pizza stone (or preheated cookie sheet).
11. Bake until dough is puffed and golden, 10-15 minutes.

Carb options
calzone dough.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Southwestern "eggrolls"

I'm sure everyone encounters the same issue I do once a week-- What in the world am I going to make for dinner every night? Most of the time, I can look through my Cooking Light, Health, or Martha Stewart and figure out something for at least 5 days of a week. But there are times when I am absolutely stumped. What do I do when I completely lack inspiration? I ask my husband.

So this week, I had no idea what to make again. Typically, when I ask for Scott's input, I get something, well, normal, like hamburgers. This time in particular, though, I get "Chili's Southwestern eggrolls."

Excuse me??

So I searched the internet (how in the world did anyone ever cook anything without the internet?) to find a reasonable recipe. I found one recipe that contained about 40 (not exaggerating) ingredients, and I just couldn't go there. I ended up combining several recipes I found to make something simple and tasty with the southwestern flair.

Obviously, deep fried eggrolls are not on my diet. So, I made Scott 5 rolls, and then used the rest of the filling as a topping for some grilled chicken. I served it with sour cream, but next time, I will make an avocado ranch dip (because it just feels right. And no, I don't have a recipe... I'll make one up later). A salad would be an amazing accompaniment.

The amounts of ingredients are a ballpark figure. If you really like corn, but don't so much like red bell pepper, put more corn. If you don't want the filling quite as spicy, cut down on the jalapeno. It's all flexible.

Southwestern Chicken Topping
This recipe makes 6 small eggrolls and leaves enough filling to cover one large chicken breast.
  • 2 chicken breasts (one will go into the filling/topping, the other will be topped)
  • 1 Tbsp oil, or a long press on the cooking spray nozzle
  • 4 Tbsp minced red bell pepper
  • 4 Tbsp minced green onion
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernals
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 4 Tbsp frozen spinach, thawed & drained
  • 2 Tbsp diced canned (pickled) jalapenos
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • large pinch of salt
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4-1 cup Monterey Jack/Pepper Jack cheese
  • (optional) eggroll wrappers
1. Salt & pepper chicken breasts. grill until done, 4-6 minutes per side. Set aside. When cool enough to handle, dice one breast. You can go ahead and plate the other.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil (or long spritz of cooking spray) in a medium skillet over medium heat.
3. Saute bell pepper and green onions until tender, about 4 minutes.
4. Add cooked, diced chicken back to skillet. Add corn, beans, spinach, jalapenos, cumin, chili powder, salt & cayenne to skillet. Cook about 4 minutes, until all elements are hot. Stir well to ensure all elements are evently distributed (watch carefully the spinach... it tends to clump)
5. Remove skillet from heat and add cheese. Stir well until melted.

**at this point, you can use completely as a topping on the chicken breast. For eggrolls, continue.

6. Heat 1-2 inches of oil in a sauce pan, or use a deep fryer if you have one. I don't. Oil should be about 350°, or crackling when you flick water from your fingers into the oil.
7. While oil is heating, wrap filling into eggroll wrappers. I use the "envelope" method... meaning this: A. lay eggroll wrapper in a diamond shape in front of you. Add a nice log of filling in the very middle (4-5 Tbsp of filling). Fold bottom point up over filling. Fold in both sides over folded bottom point, sealing both sides with a little water on the edges. Fold top point down over roll, again sealing with a little water.
8. Drop eggrolls, in batches if necessary, into oil and fry each side for 2-3 minutes, until well browned. Be sure to flip them over or the bottom side will burn.

Alternative to deep frying: You could easily pan fry these in less oil. Also, I know of many people who bake rolls. Preheat the oven to 350°, spray both sides of the rolls with cooking spray. Cook until top is browned, then flip over to brown the other side. I will be honest and say I have no idea how long this should take.

Serve with sour cream, or avocado ranch dip (if you get a recipe for this before I make one sometime in the future, please share!).

Carb options
First and foremost, by choosing to make fried eggrolls, you'll have a carb for your meal. Secondly, some sort of Spanish or Mexican rice could be good with this, but I don't think it would be necessary. My husband is a carb-o-holic and he didn't seem to want anything besides the rolls.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hello again! It's time for shrimp vindaloo!

wow, it's been a long time! Thanks for hanging in there with me this summer. I had an amazing time living in New York City for June and July and I finally feel like I'm settled back in at home, and I've started cooking again! Tonight I'm actually roasting a chicken (my easy go to dinner when I'm lost) but today I'm going to share with you my husband's favorite thing I make. In fact, the first time I ever cooked for him, this was the dinner we had!

It's a delicious Indian dish that does not use curry. So if you want to try some more ethnic flavors, but don't particularly like curries, here's your ticket! I devoured mine on a bed of fresh spinach and I do not regret losing the rice! For those who don't cook seafood often, remember that shrimp will cook completely in only about 3-4 minutes! As soon as they are curled up and pink, they're done. It's really easy to leave them for just 30 seconds more and they end up being chewy and tough.

Welcome back, and enjoy!

Shrimp vindaloo
  • 2 tsp minced ginger (use this amount in step 1)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne) depending on the heat level you want
  • 1/5 tsp cinnamon (trust me!)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves (again, trust me!)
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger (yes, ginger is in the list twice. This instance is for step 2)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp golden raisins
  • 1 pound shrimp, deveined, and without shells (you can leave the tail cause it looks cute)
1. Combine first 9 ingredients (ginger through cloves) in a small bowl. Add vinegar to form paste.
2. heat oil in large skillet at medium high heat (about a 6 on a scale of 1-10). Stir in 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger and all garlic for 20 seconds.
3. Add spice paste to skillet, stir constantly for 30 seconds.
4. stir in brother and raisins.
5. simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
6 Add shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes, just until shrimp is curled and looks pink.

Carb options
As with any good Indian food, jasmine/basmati rice and naan are delicious for soaking up sauces. A crisp, sweet white wine like a riesling or Gew├╝rztraminer pairs perfectly with the Indian spiciness.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

General Update on Me and why I'm not posting so much

So, in the cooking realm, I'm in a bit of a rut. I've been reusing many of my recipes lately, and not cooking as much for many different reasons. Scott and I have been extra busy lately; we've both traveled a lot since mid-April and I'm gearing up for a big trip (more on that in a few paragraphs). I have tried a few new recipes, but to be honest, I didn't really like most of them enough to endorse them on the site. I do have a few recipes in the wings that were good enough to share, but the time to post has been fleeting. However, the main reason for the rut, though, is that I'm a big bogged down in the whole diet thing. Since Christmas I've had many many issues staying on Dr. Malone's diet, even though I'm on State 3. My sugar cravings have been ridiculous and I haven't quite had the willpower to say no a lot of the time. I haven't posted some of the recipes I've used in the past month because a lot of them have been more on the cheating side than I'm willing to share. So I'm working hard at getting myself back on track so I can have more great food to introduce to you all. I'm 30 pounds down since October (55 overall) and I still have another 30 to go. Usually summer is an easier time to eat fresh produce and be active (especially after experiencing my first NY winter!!), so I'm hoping to get a good jump start as the months go on.

To speak about coming months, my summer is going to be a bit different. I am actually "moving" to New York City for 2 months for work. My husband will be staying here in Saratoga, while I'm in the City nannying. My clients are producing a film that is being shot just north of the City in June and July (and maybe some of August) and I am going with them to keep their son. While there, I seriously doubt I'll be doing a lot of interesting cooking. However, I'm hoping that will give me some time to catch up with some recipes I just haven't gotten around to posting yet. But be prepared for an official hiatus (as opposed to my disappearence for the month of May so far. sorry).

And finally, another call for recipe suggestions. It's getting harder and harder to find interesting meal ideas that don't take 4 hours of prep time and taste good that are adaptable to the diet. So any ideas anyone has is hugely welcome.

Thanks, and have a great week!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Maximizing money spent on organic foods

When I was a junior at Berry College, I had a friend tell me she was switching to "all organic" foods. If I'm honest with myself, I definitely scoffed and thought "how pretentious!" (Sorry if you read this ME!). But over the past few years, as I've learned about the U.S. agricultural system and generally how food is produced and shipped globally, I've become more and more interested in not only eating organically grown produce and organically raised animal products, but I'm also beginning to commit to eating locally produced items as well. I must admit that this is slightly easier to do in Upstate New York where we are surrounded with wonderful farms, and in addition to having a twice weekly Farmer's Market available year-round, we also have two grocery stores which have a wide selection of organic and locally produce products. A commitment to this type of eating is not as easy in other places of the country-- like Alabama and Georgia (sorry to the people I know there!).

So why is this so important? Recently, many food scientists have come out saying that even small doses of pesticides and chemicals used on mass market farms can/could cause lasting damage to human health, particularly during fetal development and early childhood. As Scott and I begin thinking and planning about a pregnancy in the not-so-distant future, I've started thinking even more about what type of foods I'm putting into my body. Washing and peeling vegetables and fruits will, of course, help cut down on the pesticides, but there are still penetrating pesticides AND most of the nutrients in many fruits and vegetables are found in the skin.

But it's SO EXPENSIVE!! This is SO true. While some prices are coming down, and aren't too much expensive (just 50 cents more for 2 lbs of organic carrots compared to the un-organic carrots), when you combine all the produce a couple or family consumes on a balanced diet, it will really add up. And this isn't even including the prices of organic meat. We haven't quite gotten to the point where we can afford organic meat and eggs, but we're working on it. The Environmental Working Group (found at www.foodnews.org) has put together a "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides." This ranks the "dirty dozen" or the top 12 fruits and vegetables to always buy organic, and then the "Clean 15," which are 15 fruits and vegetables that are lowest in pesticides. Now, as you plan your meals and snacks for the week, you can know where you money is best spent on organic produce.

The Dirty Dozen (buy these organic) in order of highest concentrations on pesticides:
1. peach
2. apple
3. bell pepper
4. celery
5. nectarine
6. strawberries
7. cherries
8. kale
9. lettuce
10. grapes (imported)
11. carrot
12. pear

the Clean 15 (lowest in pesticides):
1. onion
2. avocado
3. sweet corn
4. pineapple
5. mango
6. asparagus
7. sweet peas
8. kiwi
9. cabbage
10. eggplant
11. papaya
12. watermelon
13. broccoli
14. tomato
15. sweet potato

Notice that the dirty dozen items all have thin skins and traditionally are known to have bug and worm problems! Majority of the Clean 15 are much heartier plants.

Of course, we could all avoid this debate and cost if we just grew our own food in our backyard. As soon as I get a backyard... I'm already planning my garden!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Organic Carrot Soup

** just so you know, I apparently typed this all up on April 15 and then somehow didn't hit the "publish" button. My bad, yo. Enjoy!!**

As a few of you know, Scott and I hosted our first holiday dinner last weekend! We travel so much over Christmas and Thanksgiving, that we've decided to make Easter Dinner at our house an annual event. Last Sunday was the first ever! Our menu was: glazed ham, scalloped potatoes, minted peas, corn muffins, and this delicious carrot soup. The original recipe from Martha Stewart included garlic and parsnips, but I left those out because I wanted to really taste carrot! And I forgot parsnips at the store. They weren't very important, anyway. The parsnips were just chopped, sauteed and placed in the bottom of the bowl. I didn't have time to plate up everyone, so we had a buffet style, and this soup worked just great without parsnips and carrots in the bottom of the bowl!

This soup is delicious at room temperature for a refreshing spring vegetable. I suggest anyone make it with a lean ham or turkey. Just pick your favorite green vegetable and you're ready to go!

A side note about organic cooking. I've been doing a lot of reading about how to maximize money spent on organic foods, and which foods are worth spending money on organic versions because of the amount of pesticides and other contaminants used in mass production. Carrots were on the top 10 list of produce to always buy organically. I will post the entire list with more information later. I just wanted to inform people why I used organic soup. If eating organically is not something you are interested in, regular carrots will do fine.

Organic Carrot Soup
  • 3 Tbsp butter or butter substitute (olive oil, butter spread, etc)
  • 2 lbs organic carrots, cut in 1/2 inch thick slices on the diagonal
  • 1/4 c. diced onion
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, or 1/4 tsp dry ground ginger
  • pinch of sugar/Splenda
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth (can use vegetable broth if you want to go vegetarian)
  • 3/4 cups milk
1. melt butter (or substitute) in a medium saucepan. Add carrots, onion, ginger, sugar, 2 tsp salt and pepper. Stir. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until carrots are tender, 10-15 minutes. If you forget about them and, say, start wandering around your apartment picking up things before people come over for Easter dinner, and they cook for about 20 minutes, it's ok.
2. Add broth and milk. season with salt and pepper.
3. Blend until most of the carrots are smooth. Leave some chunks for texture. I used an immersion blender, and it was awesome. But if you don't have one, CAREFULLY pour soup in batches into a food processor or blender.

Carb Options
This soup would be delicious with some corn muffins on the side. Jiffy corn mix is completely delicious, and there is no reason to spent all the time and money making them from scratch!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chicken Tikka Masala

I've just returned from a 5 day trip to New York City! What a place to be. There's an unmatchable energy there, and you can't help but lose a few pounds walking around just taking in the sights, sounds and people who are there.

One of the greatest things, in my opinion, about the City is the food! Any thing at all you can imagine can be delivered right to your door almost any hour of the day. There's delivery sushi, ice cream, bar-b-que, and the topic of the night-- Indian food. As most of you have (hopefully) learned while being on a diet, cutting out carbs and fat does NOT mean cutting out flavor! Some of the greatest spices in the world have no calories at all, but create such a flavor in food, I can't imagine not using them. Tikka Masala is one of my most favorite Indian dishes. In restaurants, it will be made with heavy cream and lots of butter; however, here is a lightened version for anyone who wants to close their eyes and imagine being in New York City or Mumbai.

Of course, most people would eat this on top of rice and with a thick peice of white flour naan bread. I actually REALLY enjoy my tikka on a bed of fresh baby spinach! It gives a crisp texture to your bite that rice can't fulfill. Unfortunately, we're all out of luck for the naan right now! There's just nothing that can replace it!

Chicken Tikka Masala
  • 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cayenne (or less, according to taste)
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp minced (or grated) fresh ginger
  • few pinches of salt, to taste
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • salt, to taste (about 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup lite cream or 1% or 2% milk (I don't recommend skim because it would take a long time to thicken up)
1. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and few pinches of salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but can do overnight or while at work.

2. Cook chicken until done. This can be done on a grill after skewering meat on a bamboo skewer OR by sauteing in a large skillet. I usually saute after draining most of the marinade off the chicken bits. No need to rinse chicken before cooking

3. Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and 3 teaspoons salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream or milk. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes (more if using milk), stirring occassionally and making sure to scrape the bottom of the skillet. Add cooked chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired.

Carb options

As mentioned before, most Indian food is served with rice and naan. Plus, if you can find real Indian chutney, and can handle the high sugar content, it is a delicious appetizer with naan or papadam.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole is a staple in Southern cooking. Not only is it creamy and delicious, but it just makes you dream of a time when life was much simpler and easy. The traditional version of this casserole is VERY un-good for you. With full fat mayo, creamy mushroom soup, loads of cheese and breadcrumbs and butter on top you can feel the hips getting larger with every bite (not that it doesn't feel worth it sometimes!) I have developed this version recently by blending together elements from many different recipes, including the one my mom has always used to make her Chicken Divine. I use the 98% fat free version of the cream of mushroom soup, because it is easier. However, because of this, I must include a disclaimer that this dish isn't PERFECTLY on Dr. Malone's diet. The soup has 10 grams of carbs, which comes from flour used as a thickening agent in the soup. There IS an alternative to using the soup. Instead of the soup, use a can of evaporated milk and a thickening agent of your choice (there are a variety of non-wheat flours available to those on Stage 3 of the diet, plus anything you have found that works for you. If you have a good non-flour, non-starch thickening agent, PLEASE SHARE!). You will need to thicken this up in a saucepan before adding it to the rest of the sauce ingredients.

This recipe also makes a big change in the cheese typically used in the chicken and broccoli casserole. Usually, there is full fat cheddar all through and on top of the casserole. I have replaced the cheddar within the white sauce with low-fat Parmesan cheese, and have retained a little orangey cheddar for the top to make it still seem like home.

As far as what to serve with this delicious casserole, a good green salad full of spinach and dark greens is perfect!

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 12oz package of broccoli florets (you can buy the cheaper broccoli crowns and chop yourself)
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup fat free mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1 10.75oz can of 98% fat free, low sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp curry powder (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup low fat cheddar cheese, grated
1. Preheat oven to 400°
2. Bring water to boil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium high heat. Add broccoli. Cook 5 minutes, or until crisp tender. Transfer broccoli to colander with a slotted spoon. Leave water in the pot. Return water to a boil. Add bite sized chicken pieces to water. Cook until done, about 6 minutes. Remove chicken into same colander with broccoli with slotted spoon.
3. In another bowl, mix mayo, sour cream, mushroom soup,1/2 cup of Parmesan, salt, pepper and curry (if using) and lemon juice (if using).
4. Add broccoli and chicken to the mayo mixture, stirring until well coated.
5. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of cheddar.
6. Bake at 400° degrees until casserole bubbles around the edges and cheese begins to brown, about 45 minutes.

Carb options
Many people like to serve this over rice, or if you're in the Gilliland family, over a baked potato. Delicious.

Scotty and I are headed to Manhattan to celebrate his birthday and do a few other things. I won't be back until Tuesday. Enjoy your weekend, and hopefully I'll come back with some delicious new recipe ideas!!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Easy Grilled chicken with Spinach Salad

Well, the month of March definitely got by me. I apologize for the lack of posting. I am definitely recommitting. No excuses!

I haven't been posting much, because I keep forgetting to take pictures of the food we make! I felt a little guilty for not posting photos, but, I'd rather go ahead and post the meals and I can add photos later.

Last night, I desperately needed something quick for dinner. See, I had planned to make this delicious pork tenderloin with some cherry goodness on top. At the grocery on Monday, I bought all the ingredients, except a pork tenderloin, thinking I had one frozen from a purchase a few weeks ago. Friday morning when I looked into the freezer for that wonderful pork tenderloin, I realized that I, in fact, had a turkey tenderloin. While I'm sure it would have worked just as nicely, I wasn't thrilled to use the delicious cherry goodness for turkey, so I moved on. Quick plan for the night? Grilled chicken, marinated in some lite Italian dressing.

Now, I thought that this is something that people had done for years. My dad used to marinate his chicken in Italian dressing ALL THE TIME. However, Scott had never heard of it. It's super easy. To keep it meshing with the diet, just make sure you select a sugar-free/low carb Italian dressing (Newman's Own makes a great option. I think Kraft has a newly formulated Lite Italian that is sugar free, too. But don't quote me on that).

The spinach salad: handful of baby spinach, sprinkle of low-fat Feta, some yummy tomatoes (We used Cherubs from Nature Sweet--sooo good), a couple of black or rasp-berries if you're in the mood to be crazy. This, without dressing, is good for me. However, if you were careful with your dressing selection, you could probably have a teaspoon of dressing drizzled over your salad, too!

Easy Grilled Chicken
  • bottled Lite Italian dressing (like Newman's Own or maybe Kraft)
  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into portions. Tip: You only want your chicken to be about 1 inch thick, so I had to cut some of the massive breasts from the grocery in half, and then butterfly it a little to make it thinner. You could also pound it with a mallet or rolling pin if you need some stress relief.
1. Place prepared chicken breasts in a bowl. Pour Lite Italian dressing over chicken. Stir, and ensure that each piece is well covered. Let marinate at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat grill (I use an indoor grill pan... but you could easily do this outdoors in nice weather!). Spritz with a little cooking spray to prevent sticking.
3. Grill chicken until done, about 4 minutes on each side. W

Carb options
Who needs carbs with this meal? If you have a serious carbo-holic in your family, you could serve thsi with rolls or make it into a sandwich with a hoagie. And there are always croutons for the salad.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sugar Free Yogurt Reviews

So, I obviously haven't gotten myself together to actually post a new recipe. But I wanted to write a post like this for a long while.

Yogurt is one of the best snacks you can eat while on a diet. It's high in protein, and low in carbs when it's sugar free. It will help fill up your tummy, and also supply you with some probiotics to help things continue to run smoothly. In spite of all this, I was very resistant to yogurt for a long time. I never really liked the taste and texture of low-fat or non-fat yogurt. However, since beginning this diet, I've tried a lot of different kinds, and I am going to list the winners of the taste tests here and explain why they're better than all the rest for their category. Debate is welcome.

Plain, low fat yogurt: Hands down, Stonybrook organic yogurts. Before the diet, I enjoyed the Stonybrook organic yogurt for their delicious taste and commitment to organic living. Their yogurt has always had a wonderful texture, and Stonybrook is the ONLY variety of regular yogurt I've tried where creaminess isn't substantially lost by switching to the non-fat variety. The one huge drawback to Stonybrook? All of their flavors contain sugar, and they have no sugar free options other than plain yogurt. I have found this to be the best brand to put in my protein shakes. Plus, on stage 2 of Dr. Malone's diet, I added frozen blueberries to the bottom of my container (I buy the large tubs of yogurt, not the individual packs). By the time I'm ready to have my snack, the blueberries have thawed and their delicious and sweet juice will flavor the yogurt with just a little stir. Definitely a recommendation!

Flavored, sugar-free yogurts: I've got to be honest, I haven't found one I'm really excited about yet. I've been eating a bit of the store brand Fit 'n Lite. However, it contains aspertame, and I can really taste that. Yoplait Lite using sweetners other than sugar, but sometimes it tastes a little funny to me. Just that sickly sweet taste. I know others who love it, but I just can't get into it.

Best overall: Chobani nonfat greek yogurt.
Have you ever had greek yogurt? If not, stop reading, gather your keys (and a coat if you live in New York) and get to your local grocery. Even when nonfat and plain, greek yogurt is so thick and creamy, I feel guilty whenever I eat it. It is definitely what yogurt is MEANT to be. The plain flavor is tart and fantastic. Those who can have it, try the honey version. There's no sugar, but a bit of honey for a taste of sweetness (or add your own local honey-- local honey is good for allergies!). I must admit, even though I'm not technically supposed to have honey, if I've had a bad day, and just desperately need sweetness, I add a teaspoon of honey to my yogurt, and it's SO worth it. The fruit flavors from Chobani all have sugar in them, but fruit is simply unnecessary with this delicious yogurt. If your grocery doesn't carry the Chobani brand, Fage (pronounced Fa-yeh) is a well known, and equally delicious brand.

Now, for Greek yogurt, you will pay about 50 cents to a dollar more, and there are about 20 more calories in each serving. But it's worth it, to me, to not feel deprived and saddened over an afternoon snack!

Enough of my opinion...what is your favorite yogurt?

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Hi, y'all! I just wanted to post and apologize to you all for not keeping this up as much as I intend to. The past few weeks have been very stressful, hectic and just generally crazy. There were moments when I didn't know which state I would be living in by the end of March! But things have all settled down and been figured out. We're remaining in Saratoga Springs, at least for awhile, and I am so very happy about that!

Now that life is a little more settled, I will be posting more. Again, I'm sorry that this blog is one of the things that got overlooked when the craziness began!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Best Meatloaf EVER

I think I've mentioned here before that I love sausage. I mean, seriously. Any kind of sausage you throw at me, I'm going to devour. Unfortunately, a lot of said sausage is high in fat. In flies turkey sausage. Welcome to my Diet Heaven. Turkey sausage was a breakfast MUST when I was completely carb free. Now I can have oatmeal, and when I can, I have an amazing Irishy breakfast by adding some sausages. Sausage makes everything better.

This recipe originally came out of the Bride & Groom: First and Forever Cookbook. Usually, meatloaf is held together with some breadcrumbs. Obviously, that isn't an option here. The taste doesn't suffer at all to leave the crumbs out entirely. However, the loaf doesn't hold together and come out in pretty slices. That is something I'm willing to sacrifice when I'm just cooking for Scott and myself. I will be experimenting in the near future with alternatives to breadcrumbs in holding it all together. Until then, the depth of flavor in this loaf is worth the not-quite-held-togetherness.

In the Gilliland house, meatloaf is traditionally served with green beans and Kraft mac and cheese. I've heard in other families, mashed potatoes and some other green thing is an accompaniment. Since neither of these options are available, you can see in the picture I served with mashed sweet potatoes. Delicious, but not even close to mac and cheese. *sigh* Someday, I will have mac and cheese as my splurge of the week and man will it be good. Anyway, if you can't have sweet potatoes, just some sauteed green beans would be delicious!!

My Best Meatloaf Ever
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c milk (omit if not using breadcrumbs)
  • 1 c. breadcrumbs (omit if going low-carb)
  • 4 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 c. canned tomato sauce (ketchup if you aren't watching sugars)
  • 1 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 8 oz ground turkey breakfast sausage
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Montreal steak seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Saute onions until tender. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Combine milk & breadcrumbs (if using) in small bowl. Set aside.
4. Combine 1/4 c. tomato sauce (or ketchup) and 2 tsp worcestchershire sauce in another small bowl. Set aside.
5. Add ground beef, sausage, remaining tomato sauce/ketchup, and worcestchershire sauce, egg, seasoning, garlic powder and bread crumbs (if using) into bowl with onions. Mix until just incorporated. (Be sure to evenly mix the sausage and ground beef. Sometimes it is easier to do this before adding the other items).
6. Mound mixture in a 9x5x3 loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and pour off some of the fat.
8. Spread tomato mixture from step 4 on top.
9. Bake until internal temperature is 160° (about 30 more minutes)
10. let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Carb options
Pretty obvious here--use breadcrumbs! Also, accompany with your favorite tradition, whether it's mac and cheese (definitely my recommendation!) or mashed potatoes (with cream and chives!), or sweet potatoes! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Spiced Chicken and Barley

Happy Wednesday, folks! I just got in from my bellydancing class. It is a super work out! I feel sore in muscles I didn't know I had! I'm sorry for not posting the exercise-at-home information as I mentioned last week. This week has been pretty busy, but I finally got a break today! It was really nice to have the morning to work on my thesis and clean the house a little. And since that's caught up, I can spend some time this evening posting a delicious recipe!

This recipe was given to me by my best friend Megan a few years ago. I've loved it ever since. The spices used give the dish a slight ethnic feel, but not so overwhelming that your kids or parents won't eat it! It takes a little time on the stove, but most if it is unattended. So if you come home from work and still have a few things to do around the house before sitting down to dinner, this is perfect. I usually serve with some steamed broccoli or a salad.

Those not on Stage 3 of the Dr. Malone diet yet, may want to hold off on this recipe until then. The chicken and barley cook together and it would be difficult (not to mention horribly tempting) to separate the two for eating.

Spiced Chicken & Barley
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. dried mint flakes
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 6 (4-oz) boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I use breasts, just be sure to cut them in half for portion size)
  • 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 c. chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 (14.25-oz) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 c. uncooked pearl barley
  • 1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 6 Tbsp. chopped green onions
1. Combine first 7 ingredients; rub chicken with half of spice mixture.
2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken
and remove from pan.
3. Add onion and pepper, cook until lightly browned. Stir in soy
sauce, broth, barley, tomatoes, and remaining spice mixture.
4. Add chicken, nestling into veg mixture. Bring to a boil; cover,
reduce heat, simmer 45 minutes. Uncover; simmer 10 minutes or until
liquid almost evaporates. Let stand 15 minutes. Sprinkle with green

Friday, January 30, 2009

Spicy Flank Steak with Guacamole Salad

This recipe I created myself, though it is an dish that has been made with many variations. Flank steak or London broil is a relatively inexpensive and lean piece of beef. I created my own rub using spices that have a Latin history and then grilled it. In the picture, you will see that Scott and I like our meat pretty rare. Feel free to cook your meat longer! Using a lower temperature on the grill pan will help it to cook longer and not char or burn on the outside.

The guacamole salad is basically a chunky guacamole. Since I cannot have the tortilla chips, it was really frustrating to try to eat the creamy guacamole with a fork. Not to mention that the texture wasn't great without the crisp of a chip. So I just don't mash the avocado and stir everything carefully so it doesn't get too squishy. Scott can still eat it with tortilla chips, and I can eat it with some lettuce and a fork. Works for everyone!

For those of you coming from Dr. Malone's referral, first of all, thank you so much for checking out this blog. I hope you are able to find some recipes and support here that you enjoy and find helpful! Just to let you know, I am on Stage 3 of the diet, so I have added in barley, bulgur, starchy vegetables, and various other things. I am going to do my best to continue posting recipes from my early diet stages to continue supporting you. However, most of the time, you can still make the entree recipe and just substitute a different side. If you have any questions, please let me know! I'd be glad to help you out.

Spicy Flank Steak
  • 1 flank steak, or London broil, about 1 lb.
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt!)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • dash of cayenne pepper (to taste-- depends on how hot you want it!)
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp of olive oil (depends on surface area of steak)
  • juice from 1/2 a lime
  • cooking spray
1. Combine cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. Drizzle steak with olive oil. use hands to cover entire steak evenly with oil. Rub spice mixture onto oil. Do your best to cover steak evenly. Set on plate or dish and pour juice on top of steak. Let marinate for about 15 minutes.
3. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray.
4. Grill on medium high heat until desired doneness. (5-6 minutes on each side for medium rare; 6-7 minutes each side for medium, etc).
5. let steak rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice on the diagonal and serve.

Guacamole Salad
  • 2 medium sized avocados, cubed
  • 1 plum tomato, diced and deseeded
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • kosher salt, black and cayenne pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients into a bowl. Mix softly until just incorporated. Leave the pit of one avocado in the bowl to prevent browning during storage. Refrigerate until serving.
Carb Options
The steak is delicious wrapped in whole wheat tortillas and served with fajita toppings (sour cream, diced tomatoes, lettuce, grilled onions & peppers).

We had this with chipotle black beans (great fiber and protein source for those Stage 3 or beyond!)
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped (derib and deseed before)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 can (15 oz) low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 c water
  • 2 Tbsp mild picante sauce
  • 1/4 tsp minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, plus more as needed for spiciness.
Heat oil in a medium heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, garlic, 1/4 tsp kosher salt, cumin and cinnamon. Cook, stirring occassionally, until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add beans, water, picante sauce and chipotle chiles. Cook until warmed through about 10 minutes. Add salt and more chiles as necessary.

These beans make great leftover lettuce wraps! Warm and then serve in lettuce leaves with a smear of nonfat sour cream. Delicious and light lunch!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pork Chops Oreganata and bulgur wheat salad

Wow, so it's been awhile. I sincerely apologize for the lack of posts the past two weeks. I have found in my life that January is much more busy than the Thanksgiving through New Year's time. Plus, the snow is really coming down up here, so it takes longer to get everywhere and do everything. I cannot wait until spring comes!!

This week, I am going to try to post one more recipe (after this one) and then do a little blogging about exercises. Before all the snow, I was able to go for hour long walks pushing strollers and that really helped me unload the pounds. However, with winter here, not only do I crave warm, creamy and hearty things that are bad for me, I can't walk as much. I've started doing a few exercises in my living room that I'd like to share.

Anyway, this Pork Chops Oreganata recipe is from Cooking Light. It only takes about 40 minutes, and is SO well worth it. Scott was very apprehensive about this (especially the bulgur wheat salad) and he raved. He has requested this recipe again! Though, I think I will like it much more in the spring and summer. The pork takes on a wonderful lemony oregano taste that would be perfect when there's less chill in the air. Plus, the bulgur wheat salad is pretty light, and my body really just wants warmer and heavier foods in January! Nevertheless, this is a delicious recipe that is easy to make. So turn up your heat for an hour and imagine it's spring already!

Pork Chops Oreganata
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp grated lemon rind (zest)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 (4 ounce) boneless pork chops
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • cooking spray
1. Combine first 5 ingredients in an 11 x 7 baking dish (could also use a bowl. Dish does not go into broiler). Add pork, turning to coat. Let stand 30 minutes, turning pork occassionally.
2. Preheat broiler. (use time that pork is marinating to get the bulgur wheat salad together)
3. Remove pork from baking dish; discard marinate. Sprinkle pork evenly with salt and pepper. Place pork on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 4 minutes on each size or until done.

Bulgur Wheat salad
  • 3 cups hot cooked bulgur (according to package directions)
  • 5 oz baby spinach
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/5 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. combine the cooked bulgur with the baby spinach; cover and let stand until spinach wilts (actual recipe says 15 minutes, but it never takes that long for my spinach to wilt).
2. Stir in cherry tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with feta.

This salad is best warm. For left overs, put in microwave to warm.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Roast Chicken and Roasted Winter Vegetables

This is a classic, cozy, comfort food for me. Not that I have any old memories of my mom roasting a chicken and smelling the herbs and citrus wafting from the oven before we all sat down to dinner; but, now, it makes my tummy warm and has some deliciously juicy and lovely flavors that just allude to home.

This recipe is from the Bride & Groom: First and Forever cookbook. You will be seeing a lot of recipes from this book in the months to come. EVERYTHING, from meatloaf to carrot cake, I have made out of this book has turned out perfectly delicious. I added a few different vegetables to the mix along with a few other herbs to be stuffed into the chicken. At home, I serve with the veggies, but I also saute some green beans or make a spinach salad (with bacon and a warm viniagrette) as accompaniment.

Roast Chicken and Vegetables
  • 3 carrots (or more) cut into thirds
  • 6 small red new potatoes, quartered if large (optional)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 parsnip, cut into thirds
  • 1 turnip, cubed
  • any other winter root veggie you are in the mood for (butternut squash, rutabaga, or sweet potatoes would work well, too)
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted OR 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chicken (3-4 pounds)
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3-4 springs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh dill
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1. Preheat oven to 425°
2. Place the carrots, potatoes, onions, parsnip, turnip and any other root vegetable in a roasting pan (can also use a 9 X 13 glass baking dish). Toss the vegetables with 1 Tbsp of butter or oil. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Cover the bottom of the pan evenly.
3. Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity of the chicken and discard. Rinse the bird under cold running water and pat dry. Put the chicken, breast side up, in the center of the baking dish, on top of the vegetables. Brush the chicken with the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter/oil. Season the cavity and skin generously with kosher salt and pepper to taste.
4. Put the lemon quarters, herbs and garlic cloves into the chicken cavity.
5. Roast for 45 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven. Using tongs, tilt the chicken, pouring the juices from the cavity onto the vegetables, and shake to coat. Baste the chicken with the pan juices.
* If the bird is browning too quickly (meaning, it looks golden and delicious at this point), cover with aluminum foil.
6. Continue roasting until the chicken is a deep golden brown and the juices run clear when the tip of a knife is inserted into the thigh joint, or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh (away from the bone), registers 170°-175°, about 25-30 minutes more.
7. Transfer the chicken to a platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let stand for 10-15 minutes before carving.
8. Using back of spoon, smash garlic and squeeze some lemon juice into the pan juices with veggies. Toss. Drizzle any other juices over carved bird.

Carb options
Obviously adding potatoes or sweet potatoes to the veggie mix on bottom would provide a carb serving for those dining with you. Additionally this comfort food would go well with biscuits or traditional dinner rolls.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sausage & Fontina Stuffed Chicken with Tomato sauce and Spaghetti Squash

What a holiday season we had! We were able to see both sides of my family in Alabama, spend two days (including New Year's Eve!) in Atlanta, and be present for the birth of my best friend's first child. We had a great time with everyone, but we are definitely glad to be back home.

The recipe for the day is something I made up off the top of my head. So bear with me if the measurements aren't exact! We had some left over low-fat sausage in the freezer one day before we left, and I decided to use it up somehow! Plus, some friends of our had given us a large block of fontina cheese, so I threw that in there, too. In this recipe, I am going to give a measurement for more cheese than we used this time around. You couldn't taste the cheesy flavor as much as I wanted to. If you don't like the strong flavor of the fontina, you could use mozzarella, parmesan, or just leave the cheese out all together.

The tomato sauce is not one I would normally use for spaghetti. This is how Scott used to make his own sauce before we were married. I find it too thin to hold on to spaghetti, but it was a nice tomato item to go with the chicken, without being too heavy.

As far as the spaghetti squash, I pretty much just followed the directions on the side of the squash when I bought it. I know, that isn't exciting at all, but it was very tasty, and we will definitely be having it again! Hope you enjoy!

Sausage and Fontina Stuffed Chicken Breasts
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • about 1/2 lbs. of low-fat sausage (I chose a hot italian version)
  • about 4 oz. fontina cheese, grated or sliced thinly
  • salt & pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Pound chicken between plastic wrap with mallet, large wooden spoon or rolling pin (my favorite method!) to about 3/4 inch thickness.
3. Place 1/2 of grated cheese in the center of each breast.
4. Roll sausage into 2 balls and place one on each chicken breast on top of the fontina. Fold chicken around the ball, keeping in place with a toothpick if necessary.
5. Place chicken toothpick side down in a baking dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can also put more cheese on top, if desired. Bake until done, 35-40 minutes.

Tomato Sauce
  • 1 or 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • about 4 oz mushrooms
  • dry basil, oregano and parsley to taste (probably about 1/2 tsp each)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flake
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. In a sauce pan/pot, heat oil to medium heat. Saute onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms until soft, 3-5 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes and seasonings. Simmer on low until heated through and all other dishes are ready to eat.

Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 spaghetti squash
There are several ways to cook a spaghetti squash. First, decide if you want to cut the squash before cooking or after. It is much harder to cut through when it is uncooked, however, you don't have the burning-your-fingers factor if you chop it before cooking. Also, the squash can be prepared by baking, boiling, microwaving, or simmering in a crockpot. I chose to bake mine in the oven. Pierce the outside of the squash with a fork several times before putting on a baking sheet. It should cook about 1 hour at 350°.

Carb options
There are many things that would be delicious with this meal. Of course, garlic bread is always winner. But polenta could be a nice accompaniment to the thin tomato sauce as well. There are so many options, get creative!