Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Herrreee Porky Porky!!

On my way home from work tonight, I sat and thought about what I haven't eaten in a long time and the first thing that came to mind was PORK!!! I've made two different pork roasts, but haven't taken a stab at pork chops, so I figured "Why not?"

Growing up, my mom always made boneless, breaded chops so I wanted to try something a little different. I stopped by my local butcher and picked up 3 one inch, bone-in chops. I found a very easy recipe on cooks.com and was ready to cook!

4 (6 to 8 oz) pork chops
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp paprika
pinch of cumin
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 to 3 tbsp olive oil

1) In a large bowl or Zip Lock bag, add the chops and top with red wine, paprika, cumin and garlic. Place into refrigerator for about 1 hour.
2) Remove the chops form the marinade, shake, then discard remaining marinade. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Once heated, add pork chops and sear o both sides until golden brown and cooked through.

I served my chops with a baked potato and apple sauce. It was delicious! The chops had a a great zip of tang in them from the wine, it was a great twist on this comfort dish.(And let me tell you...the chops were beyond tender!)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mushroom Mac & Cheese

Cheese is one of my FAVORITE foods. When I came across a three page mac and cheese spread in my Food Network magazine, I just had to try one. Since I've already tried a bacon version, I figured I'd check out their rendition of mac and 'shrooms.

It was nothing that I expected. I am use to ooey and gooey texture in my mac. This mac was much like an alfredo sauce, with a twist. But I have to admit, I was very excited to try brie and romano together...and it was great. One warning: serve this as a side dish!! Having this as a main meal left me miserably full! Once you start eating it, you can't stop. But when you're finished, the full robust creaminess of the dish leaves you a bit bloated. haha.

Definitely check this out if you're interested in new flavor combos.

1 lb rigatoni or shells
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb wild mushrooms (such as oyster or shiitake,) stemmed and sliced
4 oz cremini mushrooms, quartered
8 oz taleggio or brie cheese, rind removed, cubed (about 1 1/2 cups)
5 oz pecorino romano cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1) Cook pasta as directed on box. Drain and set aside - reserving about 1/4 cup cooking water.
2) Meanwhile, melt 4 tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Cook, stirring, until the paste puffs slightly, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the milk until smooth (I struggled with this part!) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking. Reduce the head and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is creaming, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
3) Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsps butter and the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. (Yes - this recipe says "meanwhile" twice. That's a lot to do at once!! You don't want to even see what I looked like trying to do this.) Add half of the mushrooms and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Season with salt. Push to the side of the pan and repeat with the remaining mushrooms.
4) Reduce the head under the sauce to low and whisk in both cheeses until smooth. Stir in the mushrooms and pasta and toss, adding the reserved cooking water as needed.
5) Melt the remaining 2 tbsps of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and toast until golden; stir in the parsley. Divide the pasta among 8 small bowls. Garnish with the breadcrumb mixture and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Three Cheese Vegetable Quesadillas

I try to make meals that don't force me to buy a ton of ingredients that I don't already have. I love trying new things, but it's never fun when you spend money on special ingredients that you are only going to use on one dish, leaving the rest of to rot.

To make things easy on myself, I found a recipe in my SHAPE lowfat and easy cook book for a three cheese vegetable quesadillas. I was interested to say the least. This quesadilla called for a combination of mozzarella, feta and blue cheese. I LOVE all three of these cheese, but wasn't sure how they'd taste combined.

When this dish was complete, I wasn't particularly keen on the combination, but loved the veggies. I think this would have been much better with just mozz. You may disagree, so see for yourself!


1/2 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tsp of blue cheese
1 tsp olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, diced
6 scallions, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
8 8-inch tortillas

1) Combine cheeses in a bowl; set aside.
2) Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add tomatoes, scallions, jalapeno, garlic and oregano and cook 2 minutes, until fragrant, stirring frequently. Stir in cilantro. Remove vegetables from pan; set aside.
3) Return skillet to heat and add 1 tortilla. Top 1/2 of tortilla with 2 tbsps each of cheese mixture and and vegetable mixture. Fold over untopped side and cook 1 minute per side, until cheese melts. Remove from pan and cover with foil to keep warm. Cut each quesadilla into 3 wedges and serve warm.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tortellini with Peas and Pancetta

I received a subscription to Food Network Magazine for my birthday and was so excited to get my first copy last week. After flipping through endless pages of great ideas and recipes, I came across an amazing recipe for meat filled tortellini with peas and pancetta. I had to try it right away.

I've never cooked with pancetta before, but have had it in many dishes so I was very excited to try this out. The pancetta added a great deal of salt to the dish, but it was mellowed by the tortellini and peas.
If you're looking for a new way to bring pasta to your dinner table, you have GOT to try this out.

1 lb meat-filled tortellini
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 oz pancetta (or prosciutto), finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1) Cook tortellini as directed on the label.
2) Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and pancetta and cook until crips, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Ladle in about 1 cup of pasta cooking water and simmer until reduced by about half, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes..
3) About 2 minutes before tortellini are done, add the peas to the boiling water and cook until just tender. Drain the tortellini and peas and add to the skillet, tossing to coat with the sauce. Stir in the parsley. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pine Nut Crusted Chicken with Pasta

I've been so creative with my recipe selection lately that I decided it was time to get back to the basics. What did I always post about in the beginning? Chicken dishes!!! Of course my fave recipe book by SHAPE had an amazing recipe. Pine Nut Crusted Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta.

I grew up eating baked breaded chicken, so I had to give this fried version a shot. Aside from being super easy to cook, the crispy texture mixed with the subtle pine nut flavor made for an amazing dish.


6 tbsp season dry bread crumbs
2 tbsp finely chopped pine nuts
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, flattened between 2 pieces of plastic wrap until 1/2 inch thick
2 tsp olive oil
8 oz uncooked angel-hair pasta
1 14oz can diced tomatoes seasoned with basil, garlic and oregano

1) In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs and pine nuts. Add chicken and turn to coat both sides. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook 1-2 more minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
2) Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed on box. Drain and toss with diced tomatoes. Serve with chicken and pasta.

Sounds extremely, right? It took me about 20 minutes to make this. It doesn't get better than that!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Short and Sweet!

For Christmas, my friend from work gave me a peel-off calendar with a new recipe every day. Every day that passes I sort these recipes into two piles. Pile 1: The recipes that sound interesting and pile 2: the recipes that I would never bother cooking. Here we are in March, and I have yet to make one dish from pile 1, until today. Today's recipe was lemon shortbread. I've never made my own dough before and had all the ingredients so I figured "Why not!?"

Making this shortbread was very quick, but because it was my first time working with dough, I struggled a bit when combining the butter so my end result was more of a cookie. But it was still delicious!

I couldn't get over how great the lemon smelled as I was zesting and once added to the dough, the flavor was perfect! It was not over powering, but you could definitely taste it in every bite. The recipe mentioned that you could substitute lime or orange instead. I can't imagine how great an orange shortbread cookie would taste. YUM!

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes.

1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Blend first 5 ingredients in processor. Add butter, cut in using on/off turns until moist clumps form.
2) Gather dough into ball; divide in half. Press 1 dough half onto bottom of each of two 8-inch diameter cake pans. Pierce dough all over with fork.
3) Bake until cooked through and pale golden, about 40 minutes. Cool shortbread in pans on racks for 5 minutes. Cute shortbread into 12 wedges. Cool completely. Using spatula, carefully transfer to platter.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fastest Homemade Dinner Ever!

I was recently promoted and with any promotion comes a great deal of responsibility and longer hours. The first few weeks have been an adjustment, which is why you've seen a decrease in blog entries. But I'm determined to continue cooking no matter what the obstacles. Today, I worked 11 hours, but a girl can't go to bed hungry so I whipped up a family favorite: Tuna Noodle.

I don't know when or why my mother started making this, but I have loved it since I was a kid. It's easy to make and a quick way to get protein and pasta together. From time to time, my mother would add peas to the dish, but tonight I added sauteed red onion.

8 oz elbow noodles (egg noodles or small shells work well too)
2 cans of tuna
1/2 small red onion, diced
3 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

1) Cook noodles as directed on package.
2) Meanwhile, melt 1 tbsp of butter in a small skillet and saute onion until tender. Set aside.
3) Drain noodles and place back in sauce pan. Add 2 tbsp of butter, tuna, onion and combine. Stir until butter is melted. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pretty easy, right? I walked in the door at 5 minutes to 8 and was sitting on my couch eating by 8:15! How amazing is that?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chicken with Peanuts and Green Beans

I couldn't wait to try this dish. Yet another winner from my SHAPE Lowfat and Easy cookbook! (Which by the way is my new favorite cook book.) Chicken with Peanuts and Green Beans is another great meal to toss together when you're in a time crunch, and is packed full of protein.

I loved the peanut-ty taste but was happy to see that the recipe didn't call for too many peanuts or any peanut butter for that matter. The flavor was very robust, but not overpowering at all. If you love starch with your meals, you could even kick this meal up a notch and serve it with rice.

There are not enough words to describe how much I loved this meal. Cooking was quick and easy and it tasted so delicious! The recipe speaks for itself. You've got to try this one. Check out how amazing this close-up looks!

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken or turkey breast cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup fresh green beans (substitute frozen, if desired; no thawing necessary)
3 tbsp water
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup nonfat chicken broth
1 tbsp soy sauce

1) In a small bowl, mix together chicken, sesame oil, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Coat well and set aside.
2) Place fresh green beans and water in a microwave safe dish. Cook on high for 30 seconds. Remove and drain water. (Skip this step if using frozen green beans.)
3) Heat a large nonstick frying pan (or wok) over medium heat and add olive oil. Add chicken mixture and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes. Add peanuts and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Next, add the green beans and stir-fry for 1 more minute. Pour in chicken broth and soy sauce and cook until liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Veggie Fettuccine Alfredo

I couldn't go a full week without whipping up a pasta dish so I searched through the SHAPE Lowfat and Easy cookbook for something new to try. SHAPE had a great recipe for Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo with broccoli and chicken.

I typically buy white or whole wheat noodles so I was very interested in tasting spinach. Unfortunately, my grocery store didn't have any, but I found a great substitute. Ronzoni now carries a selection of garden vegetable noodles, so I picked up a box of carrot, tomato and spinach fettuccine. These noodles added a subtle but very nice flavor to the dish.

If you're looking for a quick, well rounded meal, you have to give this a try. I know that homemade sauces tend to scare people off, but I promise, this is one of the easiest to make.

12 oz spinach or vegetable fettuccine (I used Ronzoni Veggie Fettuccine)
2 cups broccoli florets
2 tsp olive oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1) Cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccoli for the last 30 seconds. Drain and return pasta and broccoli to pot.
2) Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skilled over medium-high heat. Add chicken and garlic, and cook 3-5 minutes, until chicken is golden brown on all sides. Add flour, salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Add nonfat milk and 2 tablespoons cheese, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Simmer 1-2 minutes, until sauce thickens.
3) Pour sauce over fettuccine and broccoli and toss to combine. Transfer mixture to individual plates and top with remaining cheese.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Full Package

Night 5 of my week long cooking adventure brought me on a trip under the sea. SHAPE's cook book had an interesting sounding recipe for Double Mustard Maple Salmon. I've really only prepared salmon one way so I knew I definitely had to try this one. To go with, I tried another SHAPE recipe for a creamy mushroom side dish and even whipped up some couscous. Very little words are needed for this meal. The mustard seeds mixed with the maple was great atop the salmon. I'd give it an A+!

Double Mustard Maple Salmon Recipe:

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds (I bought a small container, so I used a little less than 1/2 cup)
3 tbsp Dijon mustard (I substituted spicy brown mustard in)
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 6 oz salmon fillets

1) Heat oil in a small nonstick skillet over low heat. Add mustard seeds; stir to coat with oil. Cover and cook until seeds begin to pop. Turn off heat but keep skillet covered until popping stops, about 1 minute. Transfer mustard seeds to a shallow dish and blend together with mustard, maple syrup, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add salmon fillets and turn to coat with mustard mixture. Marinate in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
2) Prepare broiler. Remove salmon from marinate; reserve marinade. Place salmon on a foil-lined baking pan and carefully spoon mustard seeds from marinate over each salmon fillet. Broil 5 minutes; cover fist lightly with a pieces of aluminum foil (to prevents seeds from scorching.) Cook 5 minutes more, or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Creamy Mushroom with Sage Recipe:
1 pound sliced mushrooms
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Trim mushrooms if necessary. Place oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onion, sage and mushrooms; saute for about 13 minutes. Stir in sour cream and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Double Trouble

I've made it my goal to cook every night this week. That's right, every single night! I know that I've said it before, but this time I mean it! It's already Wednesday and I cooked Saturday, Sunday, Monday AND Tuesday! I think that's a pretty good streak already. Aside from the fun of doing this, making a plan to cook every night really helps my budget. I took some time Sunday to look through my SHAPE Low Fat & Easy Recipe Book. I found so many recipes that looked amazing so I had to go back through the book and re-tab recipes to make this week.

$100 dollars and 8 meals later, I was back home from the grocery store, ready to cook! I stared with Sunday's asparagus soup and continued tonight with a double menu. I'm a huge fan of pizza and could eat it all the time, but my boyfriend is not. But he LOVES broccoli raab, and I can't stand it. So to make dinner for the both of us, I did twice the work. Turkey, sausage and onion pizza for me and chicken, broccoli raab and roasted tomato pasta for him. I have to admit, cooking two different meals was a bit challenging but as soon as I put together the pizza and set it aside, I could focus on the pasta dish until it was time to bake the pie.

Both recipes turned out great! The pizza was extremely savory and from what I heard, the broccoli raab pasta had the perfect punch of subtle bitter flavors.

Turkey, Sausage and Onion Pizza

2 links of 85% fat free Italian turkey sausage
1 10 oz Boboli Thin Pizza Crust
1 cup garlic and herb pasta sauce
1/2 tomato, sliced in to thin rounds
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp oregano
ground black pepper to taste

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place sausage links in a shallow bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. (This will precook links and render some additional fat.)
2) Place Boboli crust on a pizza pan or baking sheet and spread sauce evenly over crust. Arrange tomato rounds and onion slices on top of sauce. Remove sausages from microwave and lice into 1/4 inch thick rounds, then place over tomatoes and onions. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella, garlic powder, oregano then black pepper.
3) Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Chicken, Broccoli Raab and Roasted Romato Pasta

1 28oz can whole plum tomatoes, drained
10 oz pasta (preferably small noodles)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with flat side of knife
1 pound broccoli raab, washed well, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1) To roast tomatoes, preheat over to 350 degrees. Place tomatoes on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast 90 minutes, turning after 45 minutes, until very soft and slightly blackened. Once cooled, chop and set aside. (I thought this was absolutely crazy. Who has 90 minutes on a week night to roast tomatoes. I took a short cut and put them in the broiler until a few of them started to blacken, about 15 minutes.)
2) Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of liquid.
3) Cut chicken into small pieces and grill until thoroughly cooked.
4) In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add crushed garlic and cook until slightly golden, 1-2 minutes. Add broccoli raab to skilled; raise heat to high. Cook, tossing constantly, until greens are just wilted, 4-5 minutes. Add tomatoes, chicken, cooked pasta, reserved cooking liquid, red wine vinegar and pepper. Toss well.

Things got a little crazy while trying to chop, measure, mix, boil and bake two full meals, but it was a lot of fun. I don't know what it is, but I get a thrill out of multi-tasking in the kitchen and LOVE tasting the final result at the end of it all. ;)

Monday, March 1, 2010


If you keep up with my blog, you'll remember me telling you a few weeks ago that steaks were on sale at my local grocery store, so I stocked up. Since I typically make some sort of marinade when I cook steak, I decided to change it up a bit and make FAJITAS!!!!

I could have easily just used the packet of seasoning from my store-bought fajita kit, but I figured that wouldn't make for a very good post. I searched through some recipes from my friends at Foot Network and found this tasty little mix.

1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
3 tbsps lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds steak

1) In a heavy duty resealable plastic bag, combine 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, hot sauce, salt, pepper and your choice of meat. Seal and toss the bag around to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour (or in my case, 20 minutes - since I was in a rush! haha!)

2) Cook steak for about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare then slice steak into strips.

While the meat was cooking, I whipped up a small batch of guac by mashing one avocado, mincing one slice of red onion, dicing one half of a tomato, a splash of lime juice, and salt to taste. It was a great topping for the fajita.
Again, I have to apologize for poor picture quality, but check out my fajita monstrosity. It was sooooooo good!