Monday, September 20, 2010

Chili to fight the chilly

It's fall here. What does that mean?

Beautiful trees, vibrant colors, crisp mornings, and clean, clear air.

It also means cold days, cloudy afternoons, and frost on my car in the am.

I decided to fight the cold with a heaping bowl of chili today. This recipe is one of Jon's favorites because it's very mild spice wise. I like it because it's fresh and doesn't have that heavy feeling of traditional chili.

We typically serve our chili with tortilla chips, pepper jack cheese, and a little dollop of sour cream. Jon usually asks for this on "Man Day" aka Sundays during Vikings season.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend.Cheers!

White Bean Chili
Serves 4-6
253 calories for 4 servings
202 calories for 5 servings
170 calories for 6 servings

1 can navy or pinto beans drained and rinsed
16 oz ground turkey, browned
1-2tsp minced garlic
1 small onion, chopped
1 med. tomato, chopped
2 oz canned green chilies
2 tsp cumin
3-4 tsp chili powder
½ tsp Italian seasoning
2 cups chicken stock
Franks hot sauce to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium size pot. Simmer on medium-low for 45 minutes.

Crock Pot: Put all ingredients into a crock pot. Simmer on high 4 hours.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

It's a two-fer

Yep, it's a two-fer day. As in two recipes for one blog entry, yay!

Today was super dry out. It was the perfect day to make chocolate meringue cookies! These little cookies are light, airy, and super chocolaty. They definitely satisfy my chocolate cravings.

I also made pan fried pork chops:

I made dinner. Plated everything up. And then, I waited for Jon to give his opinion.

He stopped eating.

I asked if they were bad.

He just looked at me.

What?! Talk about keeping me in suspense.

He said to me, completely stone faced, "Can we have these again, tomorrow and for the rest of the week?"

Well my answer was no, it was clear that these were winners.

So here they are for your enjoyment as well.

Onto the next challenge of the day: convincing a 24 pound cat (we are fairly certain he is just a furry miniature walrus) that kennel time is fun for extended periods of time in the car. Also, convincing Jon that Charlie will NOT comply with wearing a harness and leash... This could be a comical few weeks.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Chocolate Meringue Cookies*
Makes approximately 30 cookies
18 calories per

6 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1 /2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened chocolate cocoa
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or use the Silicone Baking Mats to prevent the cookies from sticking.

In a small bowl, combine the cocoa and sugar together; set aside.

In a large glass bowl using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until foamy/frothy. While beating to the frothy stage, add salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla extract. After reaching the frothy stage, add the cocoa/sugar mixture 1 tablespoons at a time while continuing beating until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.

Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake 90 minutes; turn off the oven, open the door slightly and allow cookies to cool in the oven. Remove from oven and store in a tightly covered (airtight) container.

* Do not try to make these on a humid day. They won't set right. They will get sticky and soft. And that isn't what you want in a meringue cookie.

Panko Breaded Pork Chops
Serves 4
265 calories per

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
16 oz pork tenderloin
2 tsp prepared yellow mustard
1 TBS unsalted butter
2 tsp olive oil

Cut tenderloin into 4 even pieces. Butterfly each piece so it is thin and flat. Brush both sides of the tenderloin pieces with mustard.

Mix bread crumbs, cheese, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

Dredge pork in crumb mixture.

Melt butter and olive oil together. Pan fry pork until done, about 7 minutes per side depending on the thickness of your tenderloin.

Serve immediately.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pizza Time

I love mushroom pizza. The problem is when you order it from a restaurant it's usually greasy, loaded down with cheese, and there are only about 5 mushroom slices for the entire pie.

I want my slice to be super loaded with mushrooms and flavor. The only solution? Make my own.

I went with a white sauce instead of traditional red pizza sauce. It was a perfect match for the mushrooms, sauteed onions, and bacon.

A helpful hint my husband gave me years ago- when your pizza is done baking, let it sit on a counter top or cooling rack and rest for about 8-10 minutes before cutting. This allows everything to set up and not just slide all over the place when you slice through the gooey goodness. It makes all the difference between a messy pizza and a pretty pizza. Plus, you are far less likely to burn your mouth on super hot pizza!

This pizza is fantastic right out of the oven(cooled slightly of course), but it's even better the next day cold.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Mushroom Pizza
Serves 6
238 calories per slice

1 Marketside thin crust pizza
3 1/2 cups thickly sliced mixed fresh mushrooms (portabellas, button, shitaki),
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic
4 slices center cut bacon, cooked partially

1 tsp flour
2 tsp I can't believe its not butter light
7 TBS skim milk
fresh cracked pepper
2 TBS shredded Parmesan
2 laughing cow light, original flavor
1/2 TBS fresh parsley

3 oz part skim mozzarella (about 3/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 450.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, and bacon. Saute until tender. Remove from pan.

Add flour, butter, milk, and pepper to the skillet. Stir constantly. Once thickened slightly, add cheeses. Remove from heat and stir until cheese is melted. Stir in the fresh parsley.

Spread sauce over crust. Top with mushroom mixture. Finish with cheese.

Bake directly on the middle rack for 7-9 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Cool for several minutes before cutting into 6 pieces.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Panini Party

I was looking for a quick and easy meal a few days ago and remembered a panini recipe I wanted to try.

This is great with a cup of clear soup, such as tortellini in broth, for a nice light, but filling meal.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Prosciutto, Mozzarella, Spinach Panini
Serves 4
318 calories per

4 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
fresh cracked black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 loaf ciabatta, cut in half lengthwise (approximately 7-8oz loaf)
4 oz prosciutto
4 (3/4 oz) slices part skim mozzarella cheese
2 medium tomatoes, sliced thick
2 cups fresh spinach
cooking spray

Combine vinegar, olive oil, pepper, and garlic. Brush onto the cut sides of the bread.

On the bottom half of the bread, layer prosciutto, cheese, tomato, and spinach. Replace the top of the bread. Cut into 4 equal portions.

Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Cooking option 1:
Preheat a counter top grill that has double sided cooking such as a George Foreman. Place panini on the griddle surface. Close the lid. Weigh the top down with a heavy skillet. Cook 6-7 minutes until cheese is melted and bread is toasty.

Cooking option 2:
Preheat a large grill pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add panini to the pan. Place a heavy skillet on top of the sandwiches to weigh them down. Cook 3 minutes. Flip, replace lid and cook an additional 3-4 minutes until cheese is melted and the bread is toasty.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Skinny Carbonara

Traditional carbonara sauce is laden with heavy cream, butter, eggs, cheese, and crispy bacon. And to make matters worse (or better depending on how you look at it...) it's served over empty calories known as "enriched pasta". These things just don't fit into this girl's daily diet.

As a pasta lover and a cheese lover I had to find a better way to indulge in this decadent dish.

I finally accomplished my goal a few days ago.

I came up with a skinny version of carbonara pasta filled with mushrooms, turkey bacon, cheese, and smarter pasta (a yummy option that is full of fiber that's not whole wheat!).

Ronzoni smart pastas look and taste like typical enriched pasta, but they have a secret! They have a whopping 6 grams of fiber per 2 oz serving and only 180 calories. Regular pasta has no fiber and is 200 calories per 2oz. I'm just sayin....

But, the best part? Jon couldn't tell the difference when we had it the other day in chicken noodle soup. That is a winner in my book. :)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Smart Spaghetti Carbonara
Serves 1
275 calories

1 1/2 oz Ronzoni smart spaghetti or linguine
2 slices pan fried turkey bacon, chopped
1/2 cup chopped, fresh mushrooms
1/2 tsp flour
1 tsp I can't believe it's not butter light
3 TBS skim milk
1 1/2 TBS shredded Parmesan cheese
Garlic salt and pepper

Simmer pasta in lightly salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain pasta and keep warm.

Spray a non stick skillet with butter spray. Saute mushrooms until tender. Remove from pan, keep warm .

To the skillet add the butter and flour. Stir together until smooth.

Add milk. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add Parmesan cheese.

Toss in pasta, mushrooms, bacon, salt and pepper.

Serve immediately.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I like Pie

I love lemon meringue pie. The way the sweet, airy meringue meets the creamy, tart lemon is perfect pie harmony. It's a lot more work than I like to do, but I certainly enjoy it when Jon's grandma makes it for me!

I found a recipe for a mini lemon cream pie that I just adore. Topped off with fresh raspberries or strawberries, it's a perfect summer time dessert. It's quick and easy. The best part is it gives me the lemon zip I love without all the work.

The lemon cream makes a wonderful dip for fresh fruit. If you eat the cream this way it is about 50 calories(give or take) per heaping TBS.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies
Serves 6
218 calories per pie

1 cup light cool whip
6 oz sweetened condensed milk, fat free
1 fresh lemon, washed
lemon juice from concentrate if needed
1 cup fresh raspberries or sliced fresh strawberries
6 Keebler Mini Graham Cracker Crusts

In a small bowl, combine cool whip and milk.

Zest the lemon (grate the rind off, just the yellow, not the white pith). Juice lemon, add additional lemon juice to equal 1/4 cup of juice. Add the zest and juice to the cool whip. Stir to combine.

Chill for 10 minutes.

Divide the lemon cream between the mini crusts. Top evenly with berries.

Chill and serve.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

That's a Wrap

It was cold and rainy today.

I was in the mood to make chicken broth for soup, we are after all quickly approaching fall.

As I've said before, I don't usually follow a specific recipe for these types of things. I just see what meat and veggies I have in the fridge and throw them in the pot. I typically use whole chickens for chicken stock, but I didn't have any on hand today.

Instead I used three boneless, skinless, chicken thighs. I tossed them into a pot filled with about 5 cups of water and 1 1/2 TBS chicken base. For veggies-4 whole small carrots, 1/2 a red onion, 3 portabella mushrooms, 2 cloves garlic, and 1 scallion. Spices were last to arrive at the broth party- peppercorns, salt, celery seed, and a small bay leaf. I simmer everything together for about 1 1/2 hours.

I removed the solids and was left with a flavorful, clear broth. I pulled the chicken pieces out and shredded them with a fork. They were juicy and tender. I needed to eat the meat. It wasn't optional...

We decided to make chicken BLT wraps for supper. They were "super yummy!" - Jon's description. :)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Chicken BLT Wraps
Serves 3
259 calories per*

5 oz shredded chicken meat
3 Large flour tortillas
6 slices turkey bacon, pan fried
1 large tomato, sliced
2 TBS light miracle whip
3 iceberg lettuce leaves

Spread each tortilla with 1/3 of the miracle whip.

Divide the chicken evenly among the tortillas.

Add two slices of bacon to each.

Top with tomatoes and lettuce. Wrap tortilla around filling and eat immediately.

* If you divide 1 oz of shredded cheddar cheese among the three wraps the calorie content becomes 308 per wrap.