Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Rolls

Happy Belated Easter!

I hope your day was filled with joy and love as we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

My parents came over for the day of fun and food.

I made cake balls. They were my first ever attempt. I have some new ideas/notes for the next time. And yes, there will definitely be a next time. Aren't they cute:

Strawberry cake, chocolate icing, dipped in colored white chocolate. So tasty.

Then we dyed Easter eggs. I love Jon's egg in the middle, it was just so perfect:

We did dye a dozen eggs, but we got hungry before the photos were taken ;) The eggs we ate were pink and purple. Sorry they missed the picture party...

Funny little tidbit for you- My dad used to dye eggs as a kid with his family. There were 5 boys in his family. So my mom asked him if he drew bombs and grenades on the eggs. He said "No, we weren't allowed to." And then, the light bulb turned on his head. He immediately created a grenade egg- drawing on the details then dyeing the egg a sort of olive color. It was all very comical.

In reality, most of our egg designs involve the cross, sayings like "He is risen", and pictures of the stone being rolled away from the empty tomb. But, there are always the fun designs such as egg grenades and metallic foiled eggs. :)

After much laughter and entertainment, we were hungry! So it was dinner time. We had ham, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry relish, hard boiled eggs, and flaky dinner rolls. It was delicious!

The rolls reminded me of some bread my Grandma S. used to make. They were soft on the inside, but crusty on the outside. They had a hint of sweetness. It tasted a lot like her bread when it was toasted. Loved them.

I finished off the day by staying up WAY too late and watching The Passion of the Christ. I couldn't think of a more appropriate way to celebrate Easter. A vivid reminder of the pure love and compassion poured out from the Father for us, his children. It was a fabulous day.

I hope your Easter was fantastic.

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

Flaky Dinner Rolls
160 calories per
Makes 1 dozen rolls

3 TBS sugar
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm fat-free milk (100° to 110°)
3 cups all-purpose flour (about 13 1/2 ounces), divided
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
Cooking spray

Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm milk in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 3/4 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture; stir until a dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth (about 5 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky). Cover dough with plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll dough into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured baking sheet. Gently spread butter over dough. Working with a long side, fold up bottom third of dough. Fold top third of dough over the first fold to form a 12 x 3-inch rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap; place in freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove dough from freezer; remove plastic wrap. Roll dough, still on baking sheet (sprinkle on a little more flour, if needed), into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Working with a long side, fold up bottom third of dough. Fold top third of dough over the first fold to form a 12 x 3-inch rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap; place in freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove dough from freezer; remove plastic wrap. Roll dough, still on baking sheet, into a 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Beginning with a long side, roll up dough jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Cut roll into 12 equal slices. Place slices, cut sides up, in muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat tops of dough slices with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Bake dough at 375° for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan, and cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Serve rolls warm.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grilled Black Bean Quesadillas

I don't know if you've caught on to my dirty little secret- I have been slowly incorporating more and more meatless supper nights into my menu.

I say it's a secret because my sweet husband only recently caught on.

It started out as a break from meat (I lack the ability to properly break down/digest animal protein) once in a while. Then I realized it was helping my budget out too. So, a few months ago it turned into a once a week deal. And now, it's my favorite night of the week!

Tonight we had grilled black bean quesadillas. So good.

I made these two ways- first, I made the taco seasoned black beans. Then, I divided the beans up into two batches. To the second batch I added some leftover cooked, diced chicken.

We crisped up the tortillas on the grill for a hint of smokey flavor. Layered on the seasoned beans, a little cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a drizzle of thinned sour cream. Top it all off with a second crispy tortilla. And just like that supper was served.

A definite keeper for this house.

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

Grilled Black Bean Quesadillas
Makes 4
Approx 340 calories per

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well
1-2 TBS taco seasoning
8 taco sized flour tortillas
2 oz reduced fat finely shredded cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce
1 medium, seeded and diced tomato
2-3 TBS reduced fat sour cream

Combine beans, taco seasoning, and 1/2 cup water in a skillet. Simmer, uncovered 8-10 minutes until thickened.* Remove from heat. Slightly mash if desired.

On a preheated grill, toast both sides of each tortilla.

To assemble: Place one tortilla on a plate. Spoon over 1/4 of the seasoned beans. Top with 1/2 oz cheese, lettuce, and tomato.

Thin the sour cream out slightly by stirring in a little water or milk until the cream drizzles easily.

Drizzle the sour cream over the fillings. Top with a second tortilla. Cut into 6 wedges. Serve.

* You can add 1/2 cup of precooked, diced chicken at this point if you'd like.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quick & Easy Shrimp Stew

1. I wanted a quick and easy meal.
2. I cook from scratch.

Numbers one and two don't always go together.

Sure, there are those meals I plan ahead and do the prep work for two meals, but that really doesn't happen as often as it should.

But, lucky for us tonight's meal was fast, made from scratch, and delicious. Jon even requested some of the leftovers be sent with him for his lunch tomorrow. That's always a huge compliment :)

Six ingredients, about 20 minutes, and nearly no prep work involved- this is one of those super simple recipes anyone can do.

My favorite part? I got to use fresh basil from my little spice planter on my back patio. YAY!

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

Shrimp Stew
Serves 5
282 calories per

2 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
4 cups frozen broccoli florets
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes with garlic, onion, basil UNDRAINED
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
14 oz medium shrimp, raw- peeled and deveined
2 TBS fresh basil, cut into thin strips
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, bring chicken stock to a rolling boil. Add broccoli, tomatoes, and orzo.

Simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes- until pasta is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Remove from heat.

Stir in shrimp. IMMEDIATELY cover. Let sit for 1-2 minutes. Shrimp should be opaque(no longer see through) .

Stir in basil. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with crusty bread.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Meatless Lasagna Rolls

These were, stellar.

Honestly, I ate these for 3 days. They just got better each day.

They have all the things I adore about lasagna-only made lighter and quicker.

I served homemade basil bread sticks as a side for this dish. They are a new creation of mine. This was a huge deal for me. I only recently have learned how to deal with yeast breads. I am starting to get more comfortable with them so I decided it was time to experiment.

My favorite part of making the dough is watching the yeast bloom. It's like a little science experiment every time! And the smell, it sends me over the moon every single time. Love it.

I took my basic pizza dough recipe (yeast, water, honey, salt, and flour) and doctored it up with a heaping tablespoon of very finely chopped basil.

Look how pretty the dough is with flecks of basil. It was so aromatic. Definitely a happy smell :)

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

Meatless Lasagna Rolls
Serves 6
245 calories per

6 lasagna noodles*
1/4 cup egg beaters OR 1 egg beaten
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
5 oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
a tiny pinch of ground nutmeg
14 oz meatless spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 375.

Cook lasagna noodles until done- about 10 minutes. Drain and lay flat on a baking dish to cool.

Combine egg, cheeses, spinach, salt, pepper, and nutmeg together in a small bowl. Score into 6 even sections.

Spray a 9x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread about 1/3 of the sauce into the bottom of the dish. Set aside.

Working with one noodle at a time- scoop out one section of the scored cheese mixture and spread over 2/3 of the pasta, leaving empty space at one end of the noodle.

Starting at the filled end- roll up. Some of the filling will push down the length of the pasta as you roll, this is why you left a space at the end. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles and filling.

Cover with remaining sauce.

Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes.Remove from oven. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

* I used oven ready noodles because they have ridges in them. Just boil up as you normally would in salted water.

Basil Bread Sticks
96 calories per
Makes 12

2 tsp honey
1 package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
3/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 ounces), divided
1/2 tsp salt
1 heaping TBS of very finely chopped fresh basil
Cooking spray

Dissolve the honey and yeast in 3/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Add basil.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture; stir until dough just starts to come together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 6-8 minutes); add enough of the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If the indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

Punch dough down and divide into 12 balls (about 1 1/2 oz per). Roll into bread stick shapes. Lay onto a baking prepared baking sheet. Lightly spray surface of dough with cooking spray, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Cover with a tea towel. Let rise 20 minutes.

In an oven preheated 375, bake for 8-10 minutes until golden. Brush with melted butter if desired.

Grillin' Chicken Yakatori

Another home run.

Chicken Yakatori. A friend from work told me she would have reservations about eating something called "YAK-atori." That was until I explained what it is- marinated chicken chunks, threaded onto a skewer and grilled to perfection. Really who could ask for any thing more? Well, perhaps some of my favorite homemade mac n cheese?At least that's what we had with our chicken. Add a tossed tomato, cuc, and basil salad and we were set.

The recipe makes four servings, but if you look, you'll see we have five. I made an extra serving so we could use the leftovers in another meal later this week. :) Cook once, eat twice.

As I was grilling up this fantastic, simple supper I took a stroll around my yard. I have a lovely plant in the front yard that sends out blossoms every few days. They bloom for one day, then wither and die. It's very peculiar and interesting all at the same time. If you know what this plant is, please feel free to comment and enlighten me on it's name!

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

Chicken Yakatori
Serves 4
172 calories per

1/4 cup sake (rice wine)*
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 TBS sugar
2 TBS grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 24 bite-sized pieces
1 tsp sesame oil

Combine first 6 ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 2 1/2 minutes). Remove from heat; cool.

Combine soy sauce mixture and the chicken. Add sesame oil. Toss to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour.

Heat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat.

Thread 6 chicken cubes onto each of 4 (10-inch) skewers. Brush kebabs with the soy mixture.

Grill 4 minutes on each side or until the chicken is done.

* You can use 1/8 cup rice wine vinegar and 1/8 cup white wine in place of the sake. It's not quite the same, but it will do in a pinch.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Shrimp in herb sauce

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Yes, it's cliché. But the only words I could come up with were, "Oh my goodness, this is wonderful, oh my goodness." So, two pictures should help more than my (basically)wordless description.

The first is just the shrimp in all its glory.

The second show cases where all the flavor is for this simple dish- the vibrant green herb sauce.

I served this over a little bed of spaghetti squash and used the bread to sop up the delicious herb sauce.

So, go, cook. Enjoy the freshest flavors of the season.

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

Shrimp with Herbed Green Sauce
Serves 6
352 calories per serving

3 1/2 TBS extravirgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup coarsely chopped green onions
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 1/4 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup dry white wine
6 ounces crusty sourdough or French bread, torn into 6 (1-ounce) pieces

Preheat oven to 500°.

Place olive oil and garlic in a food processor; process until garlic is finely chopped, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add green onions and parsley in food processor; pulse until minced. Spoon garlic mixture into a large bowl. Add wine. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper, red pepper.*

Toss the shrimp and sauce together. Spoon the shrimp mixture into a shallow roasting pan. Bake at 500° for 5-6 minutes or until the shrimp is slightly underdone, stirring once. Remove from oven. Let sit in hot sauce for an additional minute or so to let the shrimp finish cooking.

Ladle about 5 oz of the shrimp/sauce mixture into a bowl. Serve immediately with bread.

* The raw sauce can be frozen and will still maintain it's vibrant color when thawed and cooked.

Because I was planing to pour this over squash, I removed my shrimp from the sauce after cooking. Then I added 1/4 cup chicken stock and a splash of lemon juice to the herb sauce. Then I returned the shrimp to the party.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Griddle Pizza

Jon and I enjoy pizza on occasion.

We very rarely eat fast food pizza.

When we eat pizza it's generally "good for you" pizza. Lots of veggies, sometimes fruit, light on the sauce, and homemade pizza dough.

I've made pizza on a pizza stone,on a sheet pan, on a perforated pizza pan, on a grill, and over a campfire. Tonight we tried a new technique- pizza on a counter top griddle.

Super easy. It doesn't heat up the house. And it makes a really crispy, sturdy crust. We really enjoyed it.

We've had this particular recipe before, but I've always made some adaptations. This is first time we've followed it step by step, ingredient for ingredient. The revisit was well worth the time and effort.

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

Griddle Pizza
Serves 4
357 calories per pizza

1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
2/3 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
3 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
Cooking spray
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped trimmed arugula (about 4 ounces)
1 1/2 cups chopped seeded tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons oil. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, salt, oregano, and thyme. Add to yeast mixture; stir well. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into the dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide in quarters. Roll each portion into a medium sized circle on a floured surface.

Heat a griddle coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Place one dough portion on pan; cook 5-10 minutes until golden brown. Turn dough over; sprinkle with 1/8 cup mozzarella and 1 tablespoons Parmesan. Cook 5-10 minutes; remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining dough and cheeses. (My griddle is large enough to make 2 pizzas at once.)

Combine 2 teaspoons oil, arugula, and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Spoon 2cups salad onto each pizza crust using a slotted spoon. Cut each pizza into 4 wedges. Serve immediately.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Classic Meatloaf, Sort of....


Any time I say meatloaf, Jon automatically quotes the line from the movie A Christmas Story where Randy is poking at the meatloaf on his plate and playing with his mashed potatoes:

"Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beetloaf, I hate meatloaf."

Ye---a, ri---ght.

Most of the time when he says he doesn't like a particular food he ends up eating a second helping. Seriously. Here's a prime example: whenever I mention cabbage, which he claims to hate, he always eats more than I do(and I love me some good cabbage!).

I think he's just a kid at heart and no kid will admit to liking certain foods. There's a cool factor involved "I gotta protect my rep babe" Ya, ok hon....

We had individual meatloaves, homemade (baked) french fries (Yumtastic as usual) and steamed green beans. Deliciousness. A bit of comfort food, lightened. A great way to end a long day after work. :)

And here's why I loved the meatloaf, aside from the great flavor- they are mini loaves. You get to eat the whole thing! Fantastic. Dishes like this are always a big hit at my house.

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

Mini Meatloaves
Serves 4
255 calories per

1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 TBS Dijon mustard
1 lb ground sirloin
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten*
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine ketchup and mustard. Reserve 2 1/2 TBS ketchup mixture.

Combine remaining ketchup mixture, beef, and next 6 ingredients (beef through egg) in a large bowl, stirring to combine.

Divide beef mixture into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a 4 x 2 1/2-inch loaf; place loaves on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Spread about 2 teaspoons reserved ketchup mixture evenly over each loaf.

Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until done

* You may swap out for 1/4 cup egg substitute for 1 egg here

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mini Apple Turnovers

Ok! Who remembers Baked Apples?

I loved them.I still love them. I thought they were the greatest thing ever.

Well, guess what. They just got better!

I was eating my baked apples ala mode one night and came up with this fantastic idea to use it as filling for mini apple turnovers!

So, I bought some phyllo dough sheets and set to work. They were so good!

Jon gobbled them up. He doesn't need to know they aren't terribly bad for him ;)

They turned out so light and flaky. Just the right amount of sweetness. I think I will have to try this process with peaches. Or pears. Or raspberry pear. Hmmm...

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

Mini Apple Turnovers
About 75 calories per turnover

Sheets of phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions*
Prepared baked apples
Butter flavored cooking spray
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2-1 tsp skim milk

Take one sheet of phyllo dough out of the package, cover the remaining dough with a damp kitchen towel.

Spray the sheet lightly with cooking spray. Fold in half lengthwise. Repeat. Spoon about 1 TBS of the baked apples about 1 inch from the end of each strip. Fold the end over the filling at a 45 degree angle. Continue folding to form a triangle that encloses the filling, using the entire strip. (You are essentially folding this like you'd fold a flag.)Spray tops with nonstick cooking spray.

Repeat the process with the remaining phyllo and filling as desired. Place on a prepared baking sheet.

Bake at 400 until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on these little guys! Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Mix the sugar and milk together until slightly runny. Drizzle over all the turnovers.


* If you haven't ever used phyllo dough, it's very thin. Use a delicate touch.
**Don't know where to find it? It's in the freezer section of your supermarket. Usually with the pie shells ;)