Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oooey Goooey Cheesey Manicotti

"Oh Sweet Jesus in Heaven..." 

This is what I said when I tasted this.

And I'm Buddhist so I have no idea where this came from.

But I kept talking...

"It's like Heaven has come down and kissed my tastebuds and then winked seductively!"

I don't know where that came from either.

Sorry. I ramble on a lot, but this Oooey Gooey Cheesey Manicotti was so creamy and delicious I had to shout something out.
I'll give you the basics so at least you know where I'm coming from. Here's the ingredients invovled:

Roasted garlic,

Philadelphia Cooking Creme Italian Blend,

Sausage,

Chicken,

Ricotta Cheese, and

Wine

Need I say more?
Okay, I will then.


You wrap it in pasta and then top it with delicious fresh tomato sauce and bake it until it's bubbly.

I don't know about you, but I had myself at "Roasted Garlic". The smell of this in the oven alone was enough to make me swoon.

But I swoon easily.


Speaking of, please roast your garlic first, you'll be mad if you get to that part and your garlic is unroasted staring at you from across the counter.


I'm just sayin'.


Done and Delicious. If that isn't a Double D I don't know what is.


Let's get on with it, shall we?


Oooey Goooey Cheesey Manicotti 

1. tsp. Olive Oil 
1 Pound Turkey Italian Sausage
1 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast; diced
1/4 cup White Onion; minced   
1/2 cup Dry White Wine
8 Ounces Low Fat Ricotta Cheese
10 Ounces Italian Blend Philadelphia Cooking Creme
1 Roasted Garlic Bulb (Recipe Below**)
1 tbsp. Dried Parsley
1 tbsp. Dried Basil
1 Package Wonton Wrappers
1 Jar (26 ounces) of your favorite Tomato Sauce (I made my own and the recipe will follow)

1. Heat a large skillet with the olive oil. Remove the sausage from it's casing and add to the skillet. Saute while breaking up the sausage with your spoon until the sausage is cooked through.  Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess fat.
2. Now place your chicken breast and white onion in the skillet and saute until the chicken is almost cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Then add the white wine to the pan and cook until all of the liquid reduces.
3. Transfer the cooked chicken and the sausage to a large bowl. Add the ricotta cheese, the Cooking Creme, and stir to combine. 
4. Add the roasted garlic. It should just squeeze out of the top of the bulb. Then add the parsley and the basil and continue to stir to combine. It will be gooey and cheesey at this point.
5. Now, I had leftover noodle dough, so I rolled it out and cut it into squares. However, you don't have to do this. Just go to the refrigerator section of the grocery store and buy those big wonton wrappers... much easier than this. But I had the dough and I'm a waste not want not kind of girl. Feel free to skip this part and go straight to the stuffing business...
6. The stuffing business.. Take your wonton wrapper and place a hearty glob of gooey chicken-sausage deliciousness in the middle of the wrapper. Roll it up, fold it up, however you can close the sides. (Mine look really messy because I didn't have the beautiful wonton wrappers.)
7. Place a generous portion of tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish and lay each manicotti in the sauce. Repeat until all your yummy gooey filling is used up. Then cover them with more of the tomato sauce. 


8. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes. You want the sauce to be bubbling on the corners and your house will smell like the angels from heaven have come to visit.

Dish up an Oooey Gooey Cheesey Manicotti and enjoy!


Servings: 10 ( approx. one Manicotti)


Nutritional Skinny:


340 calories / 11.7 g fat / 34 g carbohydrates / 3 g fiber / 22.4 g protein

Roasted Garlic**

1 Bulb of Garlic
1. tsp. Olive Oil


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Take your clove of garlic and cut the top of the bulb off just enough so you can see the little cloves of garlic in there.

3. Place it on a small sheet of foil and pour the olive oil over the top of the bulb. Wrap tightly in the foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. 

4. When the bulb is soft and squeezable that's when you know it is fully roasted!


Mental Health Benefit: This meal isn't just Oooey and Gooey delicious it's also packed with a ton of lean protein, over 22 grams to be exact! It is also swimming in a delicious tomato sauce and with the lycopene in tomatoes that protect our eyes, skin, heart, hair, and bones it makes this meal not only super yummy, but also nutrient dense. Plus there are tons of antioxidants in the tomato sauce that helps us eliminate free radicals in our blood that can cause cell damage. 


So get your fork out and dig in!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

N is for Nicoise Salad


I have the most amazingly fond memories involving the Nicoise Salad. It's just a salad, right?

Not so for me.

I have a vivid memory of sitting at a rugged round wooden table nestled in basement of a small Tuscan Winery in Orvieto, Italy. 

The server, who felt a lot like my long lost Tuscan Grandmother, placed this salad in front of me nestled in a beautiful wooden bowl. 

It was filled with fresh red lettuce from her garden outside and loaded with juicy tuna, kalamata olives, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, and cucumbers. 

Then she took this beautiful carafe of luscious olive oil and generously poured this sweet and peppery liquid all over the top of my salad asking, "Bueno?"


I nodded dumb struck by beauty, then she had seductively caressed a large shapely pepper mill over the savory vegetables once again asking, "Bueno?" 

To which I finally found my tongue and responded, "Molto Bueno, Mademoiselles!"
Before she left the table she refilled each of our wine glasses with a pitcher of Orvieto Pinot Grigio. Which is just simply put one of the most delicate and delicious white wines we found in all of Italy.


This recipe is my attempt to bring each of you this magical moment that is branded into my memory forever. 
 
You weren't with me that afternoon in the hills of Tuscany.

Sorry about that.


You should have been.


You would have really enjoyed yourself.

But hopefully this will be a close second? 

Oh, and just for health purposes please sip your favorite white wine and relax! 

Alright, on with the recipe for this simple and easy salad.


Nicoise Salad
4 cups Green Leaf Lettuce (like Butter Lettuce)
2 cups Fresh Spinach
1/2 cup Sliced Cucumber
1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes
1/4 cup Fat Free Feta Cheese
1/4 cup Bacon Bits
1/4 cup Kalamata Olives
1 (6 ounce) can Water Packed Tuna; drained 

Dress with: 

Paul Newman's Light Balsamic Dressing!

1. Find the most beautiful lettuce you can find in the grocery store and tenderly slice it into thin ribbons. Combine with the fresh spinach in a beautiful bowl.
2. Peel your cucumber and thinly slice and lay on top of the lettuce.
3. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half or leave whole if desired and place on top of the salad. Then sprinkle your fat free feta cheese on top.
4. Then sprinkle your bacon bits and kalamata olives on top. Drain your tuna and crumble over the top of the salad. 


5. Serve with my favorite salad dressing Paul Newman's Light Balsamic! Just delicious!


Servings: 4


Nutritional Skinny:


190 calories / 6.3 g fat / 14 g carbohydrates / 1.75 g fiber / 26.4 g protein


Mental Health Tip: Memories around food are priceless.. They bring smiles to our faces, joy to our hearts, and food to our mouths. The great thing about this recipe is that it's really simple and packed with protein and loaded with vegetables to keep us going all day. It's the perfect lunch for a long day or the perfect dinner for worn out families! This recipe is special to me, but we all have different memories...


What is your favorite food memory?







Sunday, March 27, 2011

Steak and Eggs.. The Perfect Sunday Brunch!

Ah... Steak... Did anyone else sleep late today and wake up dreaming about steak.. or is that just me?

I dream about steak.. I know, it's weird. But steak is yummy. I used to not eat steak... be more like a vegetarian. But those were the 'dark days' of my childhood and we don't have time to go into all of that...

Back to how delicious it looks!
How can we possibly let it go to waste? The answer is.. we're not going to let it go to waste. We're girl scouts and boy scouts after all. We must be prepared at all times to make something delicious from leftovers!

Do you have any steak leftover from last night? Probably not, but have you ever had steak left over and you had no idea what to do with it? 

The question then becomes: How does one re-heat perfectly cooked steak?

That is the question of the day... ponder that for a moment shall we?

 My answer is to throw it in a pan with some spinach, mushrooms, and eggs and make a delicious Sunday breakfast loaded with stamina enhancing protein! 

Because your steak is already cooked you don't even have to be in the kitchen longer than 15 minutes to make this fabulous breakfast! Yes, I just said you will spend less than 15 minutes in the kitchen. 

Uh huh. And then you get to eat steak and eggs! I'm not crazy, I actually did this yesterday and it was so good it kept me going all morning and afternoon!

Let's get on with it, shall we?

Steak and Eggs
1 tsp. Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic; minced
1/2 cup Button Mushrooms; diced
6-8 ounces Ribeye Steak (approx. 3 ounces per person)
2 cups Fresh Spinach
4 Eggs
1/3 cup Fat Free Feta Cheese
1. Heat a large skillet with a splash of olive oil. Then mince the garlic and throw in the hot skillet.
2. Slice the mushrooms and add those to the skillet and saute for 2-3 minutes. 
3. Add the spinach to the pan and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the spinach wilts.
4. Then take your leftover steak and slice it into bite sized pieces and throw the steak into the skillet. Cook just until the steak is heated; approximately 2-3 minutes.
5. Add the eggs and sprinkle the feta cheese on top. Cook for another 2 minutes until the eggs are firm. 
6. Serve alongside some fresh fruit and whole wheat toast with a little fresh basil. Is there anything better than fresh basil? I didn't think so.


Now chow down!

Servings: 3


Nutritional Skinny:

262 calories / 11 g fat / 2 g carbohydrates / 1.2 g fiber / 37 g protein


Mental Health Benefit: Eating steak in the morning will get our brains fired up and our metabolism raring! Most diets around say to eat a nice big breakfast to break your overnight fast. They also say to stick with lean proteins and vegetables. Well, this recipe accomplishes both within 15 minutes. I think that is a successful morning. You can check 'eat healthy' off your To Do list first thing in the morning. You are already a success, now who knows what the rest of the day will bring with your engine crankin'!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Best Steak EVER!

Are you paying attention? Does this look like the best steak you have ever had?
Just look at it? Isn't it beautiful? Not only is it Organic Montana Grass Feed Beef, but it's got the best Steak Rub in the History of the Universe on it! I kid you not! And the rub is only 4 ingredients! And you won't beleive what the star ingredient is....

Coffee Grounds! I know.... It's amazingly delicious! Just try it you won't be disappointed!
Just look how juicy and tender it is! All that yummy red meat! It really doesn't get any better or easier than this. And it's the perfect thing to relax on a Saturday night with a nice glass of Cabernet right!
I had to stab it just to keep anyone else from taking my bite! My family is swarming around me like vultures!
And I served it up with some delicious grilled veggies that I marinated in a Ginger Soy dressing. Oh, just read the recipe below. You'll get the idea and get your grill going I bet you anything! The vegetables were the perfect combination and loaded with anti-oxidants, vitamins, and fiber! 

Plus, be my guest and use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge, I only made suggestions, just use the marinade and follow the cooking instructions and you are golden!

Now, let's get on with the recipe shall we? It is so easy you will just want to scream! (Okay, maybe that's just me, but we've already covered that I have a lot of issues.. so let's move on, okay?)

And if by chance you have any leftovers.. I'll show you what to do with them soon! I can't wait to show you my delicious recipe!



Grilled Asian Steak Salad with Soy Ginger Dressing

2 (12 ounce) Ribeye Steaks (or your favorite steak)

For Steak Rub:
4 tbsp. Fresh Coffee Grounds
1 tbsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Black Pepper

Preparation for the Steak:
1. Take some delicious coffee beans and grind them.
2. Then rub both sides of the steak with the coffee grounds. Go ahead and get your hands dirty!
3. Sprinkle each side evenly with the salt and pepper and the garlic powder. Oonce both sides are thoroughly 'rubbed down' let the steaks sit for about 30 minutes.
4. When you are ready, get your grill nice and hot and place the steaks on the grill and cook until desired done-ness. Our steaks were pretty thick so we cooked them for 6 minutes on each side over medium high heat, closing the grill after each flip and they turned out medium. Perfect for us!


Servings: 4 ounces of steak per person


Nutritional Skinny:


210 calories / 7 g fat / 0 g carbohydrates / 0 g fiber / 34.4 g protein

Grilled Soy Ginger Vegetables 


1 Small Zucchini
1 Bell Pepper
1 Medium White Onion
2 cups White Mushrooms
1 Large Head of Romaine Lettuce

For Vegetable Marinade:

1 1/2 cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
4 tbsp. Garlic; minced
2 tbsp. Sesame Oil
2 tsp. Ginger; minced or powder
Juice of one Lemon

Garnish:

Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese
 
1. Slice the zucchini, bell pepper, white onion, and mushrooms into 1/2 inch rounds. Place in a shallow baking pan.

2. Combine the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and lemon juice in a separate bowl whisking together until incorporated. Then pour half of the marinade over the vegetables and marinade for 30 minutes. Reserve half of the marinade for the salad dressing.

3. Separate the romaine leaves into 4 bundles tied with wet twine.

4. When ready, heat the grill to 450 degrees. Add the veggies to the grill cooking them for one minute on each side with the grill open. Then place them in foil creating a foil packet on the grill. Continue to cook them in the foil packet on the side of the grill for another 10-15 minutes.

6. Add the heads of romaine to the grill and quickly grill on each side for one minute.

To plate: Add the romaine lettuce to each plate and add a generous helping of grilled vegetables. Thinly slice the steaks and add to the top. Serve with Gorgonzola cheese sprinkled on top and the drizzle the reserved marinade over the top.

Servings: 6


Nutritional Skinny:


98.5 calories / 4.7 g fat / 10.3 g carbohydrates / 1.8 g fiber / 3.4 g protein

Mental Health Benefit: With the warm weather slowly creeping into our minds and our realities I am itching to get outside and start grilling again. This is a great first grilling recipe. It gets our minds into the grilling spirit and loads our bodies and souls with tons of lean protein and fresh vegetables and fiber. Plus it is really low in carbohydrates so we won't have that slump at the end of the meal. We will have enough energy to laugh with friends, take a walk, or play a quick game of chase after your neighborhood pets!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Balti Chicken... Sounds Fancy Doesn't It?

This Balti Chicken recipe is so easy. It sounds all fancy-pantsy, but nope. Not at all. 

It's just a really fun trick. Make something that's really easy for your family and guests that sounds really exotic and let your family believe that you are a creative genius.. Because you know you really are any who! Everyone else may as well be clued in!
There's a lot of spices involved, but don't get scared. It's worth it. The smells that came from the blend of Indian spices nearly had me diving head first into the crock pot before the chicken was done cooking!

But don't worry, I was supervised. I always need supervision. Always in all ways. 
And I made this Balti Chicken in the crock pot for another easy approach. I love to just set it and forget it and a few hours later, Poof! Dinner is ready! It's the perfect answer to a busy weeknight meal for your family. Or a lazy Saturday Dinner!

The crock pot really is like this magic assistant in the kitchen helping make our lives easier isn't it?
Plus this is loaded with healthy ingredients including Cinnamon, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and all those spices help keep all of our organs running! I'm telling you this meal will keep everyone guessing.
Ever played the "Guess what spice your tasting?" game? With this recipe it will make the dinner table a sure fire fun place to be. No one will guess Garam Masala will they? If so, they deserve a super duper prize (like no doing dishes for the week perhaps?)


Have fun with the great, rich flavors and check out how healthy you will feel below in the "Mental Health Benefit". This recipe isn't just delicious! As always it packs powerful health enhancing spices and herbs! 

Serve with roasted broccoli on the side for some added iron and something else to dip up this yummy sauce with!


Cheers!

Balti Chicken

4 pounds Chicken Breasts 
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Medium Onions; minced
8 Cloves Garlic; minced
1 Cinnamon Stick
2 tsp. All Spice
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Ginger
1 tsp. Garam Masala
1 tsp. Chili Powder
2 (28 ounce) Cans Diced Tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) Can Tomato Paste
Juice of 1 Lemon
1/4 cup Plain Fat Free Yogurt
1. You know what we do first if your me right? That's right I use the bone-in chicken breasts. So the first step is taking off the fat and cutting the chicken into 4 ounce pieces. If you are using boneless skinless bless your heart and just skip forward.
2. Mince the onions and garlic. Heat a large skillet with the olive oil, or if you're like me your crock pot has a saute feature and a slow cook feature. (I know I rub it in every single time don't I? Sorry 'bout that.) Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until they are translucent.
3. Transfer the onions and garlic to your crock pot set to low and add the cinnamon stick, all spice, cumin, ginger, garam masala, and chili powder. Yummy! Stir it all together and just let your nose get happy!
4. Now in a separate bowl combine the diced canned tomatoes and the tomato paste and stir until smooth. Then add the tomatoes to the crock pot spice mixture.
5. Now add your chicken breasts and the non-fat plain yogurt.
6. Then cut your lemon in half and using a reamer get all the lemon juice into your yummy chicken. 

7. Continue to stir to combine and then put the lid on your crock pot and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4-5. 


Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve! Delicious! Your family and friends will be so impressed!


Servings: 14


Nutritional Skinny:

154 calories / 3.4 g fat / 7.4 g carbohydrates / 1.3 g fiber / 22.5 g protein


Mental Health Benefit: I want to talk a little about Garam Masala. This isn't your everyday spice, but it's not just one spice it's a blend that includes cumin, coriander, cardamom, black pepper and cinnamon, but may also included nutmeg or bay leaves. Some of the health benefits of this combination of spices include anti-inflammatory components brought by the cinnamon which also helps boost brain function and control blood sugar levels for those with diabetes. Cumin is also an excellent source of iron and aids in digestion and also has cancer fighting properties. Coriander also helps diabetics control blood sugar levels and has anti-inflammatory properties that help lower cholesterol. All in all this spice is definitely worth investing in and sprinkling on roasted vegetables, baked fishes, and grilled meats!

Enjoy these new flavors! Cheers!