Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Announcement!


If you read my other blog, Ash is Fit, you know that things are busy there! I have created a 20 lbs. in 20 weeks weight loss challenge, and there are 167 participants! As excited as I am about it, having two blogs that I'm so passionate about makes life hectic. So I decided to do a little joint effort for the month of April where I can piggyback posts off eachother.

Enter Superfoods.

As I read more and more about health and food, I become more and more passionate about the quality of the foods I eat. If you browse back though this blog, you'll find an abundance of superfoods in my everyday meals. This month, I've decided to choose one superfood or superfood 'sidekick' to blog about each day. I'll either find or create an interesting and new approach to cooking with the day's superfood. Some recipes will contain a few superfoods and sidekicks, but the more the better! I will then create a post on my Fit Blog about the benefits and nutritional information about the superfood or sidekick.

Throughout the month I will also be throwing out some general information about superfoods and antioxidants!

If you'd like, you can add the button (on the left in the layout) to your blog and link back to here or my fit blog to let your readers know about superfoods month.

Thank you so much to Emily for creating the banner and button for me :) She's amazing!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jerk Chicken Burgers with Mango Habenero Sauce


For dinner tonight, I wanted to make something hot and spicy. I loved the Penzey's Jerk seasoning I used a few weeks ago, so I decided to make burgers with it. I found this recipe for Mango Habenero sauce from Bobby Flay, and thought it would be great with the burgers. I also grilled up some pineapple for the burgers and veggie skewers on the side, with extra sauce for dipping. These burgers were very juicy and flavorful, and the sauce was sweet and spicy!


Jerk Chicken Burgers with Mango Habenero Sauce
Makes 4 burgers

1 lb. organic ground chicken breast
1/2 tsp. lime zest
1/4 red onion, grated
1 tbsp. Penzey's Jerk seasoning, or Bobby Flay's
1 tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp. EVOO
4 Light wheat burger buns
4 slices of pineapple

Prepare Mango Habenero Sauce, refrigerate.
Add turkey, zest, onion, jerk seasoning, worchestershire, salt and pepper to a large bowl.
Mix well, but don't overwork the meat.
Divide into 4 patties.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add EVOO.
Place burgers in the skillet, cover, cook for 5 minutes.
Flip and cook for another 5 minutes, or until cooked through.
Place on toasted buns, top with pineapple and sauce.


Minestrone Stew



Today when I was driving home from the library, it was snowing. Seriously?! Snow?! This cold weather needs to go away, but until it does, I'll keep making soups and stews rather than turn the heat on in our house! I love minestrone, but I wanted something more substantial and hearty, so I turned it into a stew. This is a photo of the leftovers reheated, so it was a bit more thick here than originally, but I just added a bit more stock later on to make it a little more like soup. This made a HUGE batch, it completely filled my dutch oven.

Minestrone Stew

3 garlic cloves, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
1/4 lb. haricot verts, cut in 1" pieces
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 yellow summer squash, quartered and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
Salt and Pepper
1/2 c. red wine
1 5 oz. can organic tomato paste
1 28 oz. can organic crushed tomatoes with basil
6 c. vegetable stock
1 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning blend (or chopped fresh)
1/4 lb. ditalini
1 15 oz. can organic kidney beans, drained
1 15 oz. can organic cannelini beans, drained

Parmesan, for garnish
Crushed red pepper flakes, for garnish

Heat a dutch oven over medium, add 1 tbsp EVOO. Saute' onions, garlic, beans, zucchini, squash and carrots for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn to medium high, add tomato paste, stir to combine. Add wine and herbs, cook to reduce until veggies and tomato paste are thick. Add crushed tomatoes, stock, beans and pasta. Bring to a simmer, stir, cover and turn to low.
Cook for 30 minutes. Taste, adjust seasonings. Make sure pasta is cooked and veggies are tender.
Serve with parmesan, crushed red pepper and crusty bread.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Goat Cheese and Tomato Bread Pudding



I think I've found a new favorite cookbook! The American Heart Association's Low-Calorie cookbook is wonderful. It has so many recipes that are really simple, really healthy and fresh, and they even have calorie counts!
For tonight's dinner, I found a goat cheese and tomato bread pudding recipe. I don't make bread pudding often because I don't eat anything besides oatmeal for breakfast, and I don't ever think to make it for dessert. However, I decided this would be a great side dish, a new way to incorporate bread into dinner besides a sandwich or for dipping into soup.
The original recipe had you making your goat cheese from scratch, as well as using a few different ingredients, so I used their idea, but changed it quite a bit. I rarely follow recipes, I usually see a recipe's name, then just steal that and make my own dish to fit in the name's parameters!
I served this with some balsamic onion green beens and TJ's pesto chicken sausage. The sausage was ok, just really salty in my opinion. It's definitely my least favorite TJ's sausage.


Goat Cheese and Tomato Bread Pudding

6 slices whole grain bread, cubed (about 2 c.)
1 /2 pint cherry tomatoes
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
10 basil leaves, minced
2 oz. crumbled organic goat cheese
1/2 c. skim milk
2 eggs
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
Cracked black pepper

Toss bread cubes, tomatoes, onion, basil and goat cheese in a greased casserole dish.
In a small bowl, whisk milk, eggs and whites, oregano, salt and pepper.
Pour over the bread mixture.
Place saran wrap over the top, and place something on top to weight it down and make sure all bread is saturated.
Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or more.
Preheat oven to 425, uncover, bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and set.




A Year Ago: Samoa in the Country Challenge! I absolutely loved Samoa.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Barley and Edamame with Grapefruit


For dinner tonight, I found a recipe in the American Heart Association's Low-Calorie Cookbook that sounded delicious. I didn't think my husband would like it much, so I made it since he wasn't home for dinner! The original recipe is made with oranges rather than grapefruit. It also calls for using quick cooking barley, but I used regular barley, cooked it, and added it at the end. The barley is meant to be served warm, but I ate this chilled, like a salad.
It was delicious, full of great healthy flavor! I don't eat many vegan dishes because I never feel full, but this hit the spot!

Barley and Edamame with Grapefruit
Adapted from Low-Calorie Cookbook
Serves 1

1 small onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2/3 c. frozen edamame
1/2 c. prepared barley
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 carrot, shredded
Salt and pepper
1 grapefruit, peeled and sliced, plus 2 tbsp. juice

In a small pan over medium-low heat, saute onions, garlic and red pepper for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add grated ginger. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine edamame, barley, carrots, soy sauce, grapefruit juice and onion mixture. Toss.
Plate, serve with grapefruit wedges.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Zucchini Kuku


For dinner tonight, I chose to make an Iranian Kuku - a baked egg dish. It's similar to a frittata, or a crustless quiche. I chose this one among many others - Pistachio, Pea, Green Bean, Yogurt, Meat, and Cauliflower, for example. It's a very basic dish, and very simple for an easy weeknight meal. They are usually served with yogurt, bread and an herb salad. I chose to serve mine with spiced lentils with yogurt.
My only complaint about this dish was it lacked a bit of flavor. I think I should have combined this one with the fresh herb kuku which had scallions, cilantro, dill and parsley.


Zucchini Kuku
Najmieh Batmanglij

1 lb. Zucchini, sliced (4 medium)
3 onions, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 c. EVOO (I used 1 tbsp.)
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. flour (I used whole wheat)
1 tsp. baking powder

1. In a skillet, brown onions, zucchini and garlic in EVOO. Lightly mash, set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Break eggs into a bowl, whisk in salt, pepper, flour and baking powder.
4. Add zucchini mixture to eggs. Mix.
5. Pour into a greased baking dish. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
6. Remove from oven, cool for a few minutes. Invert on a plate or spoon out of the dish.



Saturday, March 21, 2009

Butternut Squash and Purne Khoresh with Lentils

As I browsed through New Food of Life, I found that it's broken down into categories of cooking methods and not really chicken, beef, vegetables, pasta, etc., like most other cookbooks. I decided to try to make a dish from each category in the cookbook.
First up is a Khoresh. There are about 15 varities in the book, and I settled on the Butternut and Prune because I love butternut squash. The recipe calls for lamb, but I decided to sub in lentils because I don't eat lamb, and I wanted a combo protein/starch.
So what is a Khoresh? Here's the definition from New Food of Life: "Khoresh is a delicate and refined stew. It is a combination of either meats (lamb, beef, or veal), poultry, or fish with vegetables; fresh or dried fruits; and beans, grains, and sometimes nuts. It is seasoned subtly with fresh herbs and spices, then simmered for a long time over low heat. To achieve the slow fusing of flavors that characterizes khoresh, it is best to cook it in a heavy pot, cast iron if possible. I recommend a classic Dutch oven, but any heavy stew pot will do."
This dish was delicious! It's very hearty and warm. The author says to serve this with saffron rice.

Butternut Squash and Prune Khoresh
Najmieh Batmanglij

2 onions, peeled and sliced
1 lb. lamb stew meat (I used 1 c. dry lentils soaked in water for 4 hours)
1/3 c. oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 lbs. fresh butternut squash
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 c. lime juice
1/4 tsp. saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp. hot water
2 c. pitted prunes

1. In a dutch oven, brown onions and meat in 3 tbsp. EVOO. Add salt, pepper and cinnamon. Pout in 2 c. water, cover and simmer for an hour.
2. Peel squash, cut into cubes. Brown squash in a skillet with remaining oil, 15 minutes or so.
3.When meat is tender, add sugar, lime juice, saffron water, prunes and butternut squash. Cover and simmer for an hour over low.
4. Check seasonings and adjust.

Note: I omitted step 1, cooked squash and onions in the dutch oven, then added the lentils with other ingredients and cooked for an hour)

This was the ONLY organic butternut squash they had at Kroger! It was giant and long - I only used the neck. I'm going to hollow out the end, then bake it for an hour with a little cinnamon and brown sugar in the 'bowl' (my mom's way) and eat it for lunch today!
There's also a photo of the saffron, it's from Trader joes. You get 1g for about $6. I need lots of saffron this week, so I bought a new bottle last time I was there.

Country Challenge: Iran


You might have noticed there haven't been many Country Challenge posts lately. I've been pretty uninspired lately by the cookbooks I've found in the library, until this weekend. I found a new book called "New Food of Life, Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies" by Najmieh Batmanglij. This book is absolutely beautiful! It is packed with so many traditional recipes, and variations of traditional preparation of dishes. The photographs are great, something I especially look for in a cookbook!

What I especially love about the Iranian food is the amazing flavors and abundant ingredients. Some of the most common ingredients are prunes, apricots, raisins, pomegranates, rice, lamb, chicken, nuts, herbs, saffron, limes, cinnamon, spinach and squash.
As the week goes on, I'll be discussing the variations and traditions of the dishes I prepare.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Summer Rolls

I saw a photo of summer rolls on the cover of a cookbook last week when I was at the library, and I instantly put them on the menu. They are so easy to make, so fresh tasting, and very healthy. I made mine with tofu and vegetables, but you can use crab, shrimp, fish, or any other protein. I also made a big bowl of steamed veggies tossed in TJ's Island Soyaki, which I love. It has big chunks of fresh ginger, sesame seeds, pineapple juice, and is very fresh tasting. It is a bit sweet for me, so I don't use too much.
After I made my rolls, I did have issues with them sticking together, anyone have advice on how to keep the rice paper from sticking?


Summer Rolls
Makes 8

8 rice paper wrappers
1 oz. rice noodles, cooked
1 block of thai marinated tofu, sliced
1 yellow pepper, julienned
1 english cucumber, julienned
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 avocado, julienned

Dipping Sauce:
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 tsp. Chinese Mustard
1 tsp. Thai Chile Paste

Prepare all vegetables, set on a cutting board.
Dip wrappers one by one in a bowl of warm water.
Place on parchment paper, add noodles, tofu, carrots, cucumber, peppers, and avocado.
Roll up like a burrito. Repeat.
Refrigerate until ready to eat.
Mix all dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Light Fettuccini Alfredo


I can't remember the last time I had fettuccini alfredo because I know it's not exactly healthy... so when my sister asked if I could come up with a light fettuccini alfredo recipe, I had to really think about it. I didn't wan't to use nonfat half and half... because I don't know half the stuff that's in it. I didn't want to just thicken milk with a roux or cornstarch, so I did a little research. I found that in my Moosewood Lowfat Cookbook, they use pureed cottage cheese as a thickener in sauces, so there was my answer! This was very creamy, very rich, and something that I'd eat a side of, but maybe not a giant bowl of again.
I love adding big flavors from herbs and spices to compensate where fat and calories are cut, so I add 3 cloves of roasted garlic, but that's optional as it is a bit of work to prepare. However, it's easy to pop it in the oven and let it roast while you make the pasta.
I made the pasta by hand, it was simple and delicious.
Now the results - A dinner portion of Olive Garden's Fettuccini Alfredo is 800 calories and 48 g. fat, my version is 382 calories and 5.5 g. of fat!


Light Fettuccini Alfredo

Pasta:
1/2 c. AP flour
1/2 c. Whole Wheat Flour
2 egg whites
1 tbsp. EVOO
Warm water
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. dried Basil (optional)

Sauce:
1 c. Light Cottage Cheese
1/2 c. 2% milk
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
Ground nutmeg, optional
Roasted Garlic cloves, optional

In a standing mixer, add flours, spices and salt. Make a well in the center, add egg whites and EVOO. Mix for 2-3 minutes, or until dough comes together (if it's in little pebbles, add warm water until it comes together). Knead for 2-3 minutes. Place in the refrigerator and rest for 10 minutes. Roll with a pasta roller, then cut. Rest another 10 minutes.
Drop in heavily salted boiling water, cook 4-5 minutes.
Drain.
In a blender or food processor, blend/puree milk and cottage cheese until smooth.
Heat a skillet over medium-low. Add milk and cottage cheese. When it just comes to a bubble, add in cheese, pepper, and roasted garlic, if using. Whisk until cheese is no longer lumpy. Taste for seasoning, add salt if necessary.
Add drained pasta to the skillet, toss pasta around, plate and top with extra cheese.




Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Vegetarian Reuben

So my attempt at cooking something for St. Patrick's Day began great. I made Irish Brown Soda Bread, and decided to make a Reuben. But then I didn't really want corned beef... I wanted to eat vegetarian. So I decided to sub in the new tofu I found at Trader Joe's, it's savory flavored, something I haven't tried before. I made the rest of the sandwich like a normal reuben (just lighter), but for my side... I went German... oops! I love red cabbage, I can't help it! It's cabbage though, right? Oh well, last year I did a whole week of real Irish food, so this year, I did one sad attempt, and it turned out to be...not so Irish, and sort of German. Oh well, Happy St. Patrick's Day :)


Vegetarian Reubens

1 loaf of Irish Brown Soda Bread, sliced thin (you need 4)
1 package of Savory Tofu
1 15 oz. can sauerkraut
2 tbsp. Light 1000 Island Dressing
1/4 c. Light Swiss Cheese
2 tbsp. Spicy Brown Mustard


Drain Sauerkraut.
Slice tofu and cheese.
Smear 2 pieces of bread with 1 tbsp. dressing and the other 2 pieces with 1 tbsp. mustard.
Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Spray with nonstick spray.
Place 2 slices in skillet, dressing side up.
Top with tofu, sauerkraut, cheese, then top with other piece of bread, dressing/mustard side in.
Cover pan.
Cook for 5 minutes, flip, and cook the other side for 5 minutes.
Slice and serve.

A Year Ago: Real Irish Food!
Beef in Ale with Cheese Cobbler and Brown Bread Apple Cobbler

Monday, March 16, 2009

Southwestern Hominy Stew


Looking back at last year's recipe, I saw that I made hominy, and hadn't made it since. I really liked it, but didn't know what else to do with it as there aren't many recipes to be found. It's just corn, so it can be used in place of corn in soups and stews. I found a recipe for a hominy stew in the Moosewood cookbook, and thought it would be delicious. I adapted it a bit from the original, and loved it!


Southwest Hominy Stew
adapted from Moosewood Restauran Low-Fat Favorites

1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
2 chipotles in adobo, minced
1 15 oz. can organic kidney beans
1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes, drained
1 15 oz. can white hominy, drained
2 c. organic veggie or chicken stock
salt and pepper
Parsley or cilantro, for garnish
Parmesan or cheddar cheese, for garnish

Heat a soup pot over medium-low. Add onions, peppers, carrots and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, saute for 10 minutes, or until softened.
Add cumin, chili powder, chipotles, beans, tomatoes, hominy, and stock.
Turn to high, bring to a simmer, turn to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and serve with cheese and cilantro.

Serves 4 - Calories per serving 280 (doesn't count cheese garnish)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gratin de Christophene

Like I said, when I found a Chayote (or Christophene or Chokos) squash, I was eager to find a recipe that would showcase the squash. I'd never had or prepared one before, and this recipe was simple and straightforward. I absolutely loved it! I love Gruyere, so when I read 1 c. of cheese, I went with it. The author doesn't specify, but the photo in the book shows a white cheese. I was a little nervous when it said to remove the core, but the small white pit just popped right out, so I'm going to assume that was the core! I definitely would love to prepare Chayote squash again, anyone have any recipes?


Gratin de Christophene
by Paula Lalbachan

4 Chayote squash
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. oil
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 green onions
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tbsp. flour
1/4 c. milk
1 c. Gruyere
1/2 c. breadcrumbs
Black peppers

Halve each squash. Remove the core. Place in a saucepan, add enough water to cover and 1 tsp. salt. Boil until tender, about 30 minutes.
Scoop out the flesh, place in a bowl and mash. Set shells in a baking dish.
Heat oil over medium heat, add onions and garlic. Saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Add flour, stir to cook, add milk, stir for 1 minute.
Add the cheese and squash.
Stir well, spoon into squash cavities.
Top with breadcrumbs and pepper.
Place in a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

This recipe is from The Complete Caribbean Cookbook by Pamela Lalbachan.




A Year Ago: Irish week!
Brown Soda Bread (which I'm making again tomorrow!)
Murphy's Onion Soup
Bailey’s Shamrock Spritz Cookies
Chicken Cashel Blue and Boxty

Jicama and Green Apple Slaw Salad


For this slaw, I used some of my favorite basics, as well as two new ingredients for slaw - Jicama and Apple. Jicama has a very interesting flavor... it's like a water chestnut, but a little sweet. I cut it into little sticks rather than shred so it, but i don't know that it really made any difference. This slaw was delicious!


Jicama and Green Apple Slaw

1 Jicama, peeled and julienned
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 head of red cabbage, shredded
1 granny smith apple, julienned
1/4 red onion, shredded
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp. orange muscat champagne vinegar
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. EVOO
salt and pepper
cayenne pepper, to taste

Toss all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

A Year Ago:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Eggplant Strata


For dinner tonight, I went back to my Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites cookbook. I always have trouble creating and finding new recipes for eggplant, so when I saw this one, I was super excited! It's very healthy and can be made ahead of time and consumed at a later time. The recipe says to eat it cold, but I heated mine up. I also used dried cannelini beans, which held their shape a bit more and didn't mash so much, but either way is fine. I did have a bit of a brain cramp, I accidently wrote down and bought cottage cheese instead of ricotta, but it tasted great with the cottage cheese!


Eggplant Strata
from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

1 eggplant
1 tbsp. EVOO
Salt
1 1/2 - 2 c. cannelini beans, or 1 15 oz. can, drained
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 c. nonfat ricotta
2 tbsp. feta, crumbled
2 tbsp. chopped dill
1 c. parsley (I used spinach)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
2/3 c. roasted red peppers (I used 2 fresh and roasted them myself)

Turn broiler on high.
Cut eggplant into disks.
Cover with EVOO, salt and pepper.
Broil for 3-4 minutes per side.
Set aside.
Roast red peppers for 6-8 minutes, peel, slice and set aside.
Pour beans into a dish, mash with lemon juice and cumin.
In a blender, combine garlic, tomatoes and parsley. Pulse and set aside.
Line a loaf pan with parchment or plastic wrap.
Arrange 1/3 of the eggplant on the bottom.
Top with bean mixture.
Top with red pepper strips.
Top with another third of the eggplant.
Top with cheese mixture.
Top with tomato mixture.
Finally, top with remaining eggplant.
Cover with plastic, top with cans to weigh down and press.
Refrigerate for 2 hours or more.
I topped mine with sliced almonds and dill, this was delicious!

Restaurant Review: Uptown Cafe


The Uptown Cafe
102 E Kirkwood Ave
Bloomington, IN
(812) 339-0900


Location: Downtown on E. Kirkwood near Walnut
Cuisine: American with Creole Influence
Price: Breakfast Entrees $8-10, Dinner Entrees $10-15

JJ and I went to Uptown one night recently because so many people recommend it, especially for breakfast.
The restaurant is somewhat fancier than most in Bloomington, but other patrons were still dressed very casually. Our server was very nice, attentive, and willing to answer my questions with no problems.
We started out with the Artichoke-Kalamata Olive Dip, which was wonderful, and not overly pricey at $5.95. This was a decent amount of food for two to start out the meal.
I have heard, and our server told us, that Phil's Famous Garlic Bread is what many people start out with. I don't like when restaurants charge for bread, so I'd rather order something a bit more if I'm going to have to pay anyway.

I had looked over their menu ahead of time, and wasn't very impressed with any of their vegetarian selections. They have 2 or 3 vegetarian dishes, but then many other dishes have the option to not have meat for a cheaper price.

What they did have though was a specials board with about 6 entrees. I've always read it's best to try the specials because they're generally fresh and seasonal. I saw something called Pasta Bella, so I asked what it was. Pasta Bella is a fresh linguine tossed in a saffron broth with crumbled feta, which melts a bit to make the sauce creamy. Artichokes, tomatoes, peppers, olives and more feta are added to the dish and tossed in with the pasta. It was probably one of the best pasta dishes I've had. The saffron added enourmous flavor, it was creamy but still light, and the fresh pasta was wonderful. I wish there was a bit more sauce and vegetables, but it was great. The Pasta Bella was $13.95, with the option to add lamb chops for a few dollars more. I was a bit dissapointed it didn't come with a salad, they are $3.95 extra to add on.

JJ ordered the Louisiana Hot Pepper Chicken, which was crispy chicken strips over rice with a spicy pepper cheese sauce. His was $13.95 as well. JJ thought the chicken was really tender and crispy, the rice was well seasoned, and the sauce had a good balance of heat and flavor. He said he wished there were more peppers in the sauce because he didn't get many vegetables.

We passed on dessert, though the key lime pie was hard to pass up. Overall, I'd say we had a nice dinner at Uptown, but I don't think it was very high up on my personal Best of Bloomington list. I had no issues with the quality of my dinner, the flavor was good, but it wasn't a very memorable dinner, and a little more expensive than similar dinners I've had elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lowfat Banana Nut Oat Muffins


I had some bananas that were pretty brown and soft when I got home from Cincinnati, so I decided to make some muffins. I wanted them to be low cal/fat and healthy, so I made up a recipe that was easy and used things I had on hand. These came out great!

Lowfat Banana Nut Oat Muffins
Makes 12

1/2 c. AP flour
1/2 c. Whole Wheat flour
1/2 c. light brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. nuts (pecan, walnuts, almonds)
3/4 c. oats
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. plain yogurt
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 c. (about 2) very ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients, stir.
In a kitchen aid mixer, combine vanilla, egg, milk, yogurt, oil and bananas. Mix well.
Slowly beat in the dry ingredients, do not overmix!
Spoon into greased muffin tins with or without wrappers.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
Nutritional Info:
Calories 175
Fat 7g
Carbs 23g
Fiber 2g
Protein 5g
*Calculated using sparkpeople.com
A Year Ago: 2 of my favorites!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Vegetarian Chili Burgers


Tonight's dinner comes from the Moosewood Lowfat Favorites Cookbook. I had a can of kidney beans in the pantry that I wanted to use, so I looked through the book for recipes that called for a can of them. I found this recipe for a chili burger. The name makes it sound like a beef burger smothered in chili, but it's really a chili spiced bean burger.
I love kidney beans, especially the dark ones, because they top the USDA's list of anti-oxidant rich foods. One-half of a cup containts 6 g. of fiber and 6 g. of protein while they're virtually fat free and very high in vitamin C.
These burgers were excellent, they tasted a lot like Morningstar Farms Black Bean Patties. I served them with sweet potato fries and a large garden salad.


Chili Burgers
slightly adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Lowfat Favorites
Makes 3-4 patties

1/2 yellow onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, shredded
1 tsp. dark mexican chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 15 oz. can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 tbsp. dark brown mustard
2 tbsp. worchestershire sauce
2 tbsp. ketchup
1/2 c. quick cooking oats

Hamburger buns (light whole wheat)
Ketchup
Mustard
Pickles
Sprinkle of monterey jack cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium low. Spray with nonstick spray, saute onion, garlic and carrots for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
While veggies cook, drain beans, and add to a bowl. Mash with a potato masher.
Add mustard, worchestershire, ketchup, chili powder, cumin and oats.
Scrape veggies out of pan, add to bean mixture.
Mix burgers thoroughly, form into 3-4 patties.
Heat same skillet over medium-high. Spray with nonstick spray.
Drop patties into skillet, cook for 5-6 minutes per side.
After flipping, add cheese, cover to melt.
Serve on a bun with condiments.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Black Beans and Rice Stuffed Poblanos & Creamy Corn and Avocado Salad


I haven't made any tex-mex food lately, and I had a craving. I saw some gorgeous poblanos at Kroger, so I decided to make stuffed poblanos. Again, keeping it vegetarian, I stuffed them with a black beans and rice mixture. Since the poblanos and rice had a kick, I served a cool corn and avocado salad on the side. This dinner is very healthy and flavorful!


Black Beans and Rice Stuffed Poblanos
and
Creamy Corn and Avocado Salad

Poblanos:
4 poblanos, 3 sliced lengthwise and gutted, 1 diced
3/4 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 12 oz. can diced tomatoes (mine were chipotle lime flavored)
1 c. chicken stock
1 c. quick cooking rice
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
Dash of hot sauce
Salt and pepper
1 can black beans, drained
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Corn Salad:
1 c. frozen corn kernels, defrosted but cold
1 avocado, diced
1/4 red onion, minced
1 tbsp. minced cilantro
1/4 jalapeno, minced
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400.
Place 3 of the peppers in a baking dish, put in the oven while you prepare rice.
In a pot over medium heat, add 1 tbsp. EVOO, red onion, garlic, 1 diced poblano, salt and pepper. Saute vegetables for a few minutes, until slightly softened.
Add tomatoes, stock, spices, and bring to a boil.
Add rice, stir, bring back to a boil, cover, turn to low and simmer 15 minutes, or until rice is cooked.
Stir in black beans.
Take poblanos out of the oven, spoon beans and rice mixture into pepper cups, top with cheddar cheese, place back in the oven and cook for another 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and peppers are soft.

To make corn salad: Add corn, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, salt and pepper to a bowl. Mix well.
Add avocado, gently fold in avocado, do not break it up too much.
Keep chilled until serving.



A Year Ago:
This Argentinean dish is one of my favories of 2008 - Polenta Rellena con Jamon y Queso (Polenta with Ham and Cheese Filling)
And TWD Snickery Squares - these were also delicious!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Balsamic Blue Burgers on Kaiser Rolls

For dinner tonight, my husband was FINALLY joining me! I decided to make something he'd really enjoy. I saw these Kaiser Rolls in Annie's blog a few weeks ago, and knew they would be delicious! She warned that you had to plan ahead for this one because the rolls take 2 days to make. They have to rise and be punched down, and rise and shape, and rise and flip, and rise, and rise and rise! Mine didn't come out exactly as I hoped because I used whole wheat flour and bread flour, and the whole wheat just doesn't leave the same texture. Next time I make these, I'll be using all bread or AP like the recipe states.
For the burgers, I wanted to make something filling and flavorful, so I made a balsamic and blue cheese burger. They were delicious! I served the burgers with asparagus and a salad.


Balsamic Blue Burgers on Kaiser Rolls

1 lb. 96% lean ground beef
1/2 yellow onion, grated
1 tbsp. worchestershire sauce
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, separated
Garlic Salt
Pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
8 button mushrooms, sliced
2 oz. crumbled blue cheese

Preheat a nonstick skillet to medium heat.
Add onions and mushrooms, sautee for 10 minutes, or until softened.
Add 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Turn heat off.
Preheat grill pan to medium-high.
Gently toss ground beef, onion, worchestershire, 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, salt, and peppers in a bowl.
Form into 4 patties.
Grill for 4 minutes on the first side.
Top each burger with 1/4 of the mushroom/onion mix and 1/4 of the blue cheese crumbles.
Grill on the second side for 5 more minutes.
Plate on the roll and serve.



A Year Ago: Oddly enough, burgers on homemade wheat rolls for the NASCAR Vegas Race! Chipotle Cheddar Sliders on Whole Wheat Yeast Rolls

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Roasted Tomato Winter Pasta Salad


I absolutly love pasta salad. I make meals out of it during the summer. I especially love making it with my mom. She always uses tortellini, and I think I eat half the tortellini out of the salad. She always cooks the pasta, then douses it with Italian dressing while it's warm so it really soaks it up, then refrigerates it. Winter has been dragging on... and on.... and on.... so I decided to make myself some pasta salad for dinner, but I made it warm with some wintry elements.

I didn't use tortellini because it is pretty high in calories, and I'd eat the whole package, so I went with Barilla plus rotini, and I roasted some cherry tomatoes with garlic. I added some peas because they're my favorite, feta for something different, and chick peas for protein. This meal was pretty light, really healthy, and very easy!

Roasted Tomato Winter Pasta Salad

1/2 box Barilla Plus Rotini
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tbsp. EVOO
salt and pepper
1/2 c. peas
2/3 c. chick peas
1/4 c. fat free feta
2 tbsp. Light Italian Dressing

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place tomatoes on a foil lined baking sheet.
Toss in garlic, EVOO, salt and pepper.
Roast for 15 minutes, or until tomatoes burst.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt heavily.
Drop in pasta, cook 10 minutes.
Add peas to the last minute of cooking pasta.
Drain, put back in the pot, toss with dressing.