Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chicken and Prosciutto...how can you go wrong?

You can't, not with this recipe!

I have had a hankering for food loaded with calories and fat these days. I searched through my recipes and found one that sounded fairly simple and yet satisfying, and oh was it ever. I had made it once a long time ago, much to the delight of Matt and his friend that was over for dinner that evening. It's got great flavor and as the chicken roasts in the oven, the apartment has a wonderful smell, and we can't wait to eat dinner!

CKS note: I couldn't find zuchinni at Trader Joe's, so I used winter squash instead and it tasted equally as good as the zuchinni.

Chicken with Prosciutto and Zuchinni


4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or 2 large ones cut in half)
1/4 teaspoon each, salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
8 slices prosciutto
lemon juice
2-3 small zuchinnis, sliced into half moons

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle one side with salt and pepper. Heat up oven-safe skillet on medium-high and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When ready, add the chicken season side down season the side facing up with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side. ONce both sides are cooked, bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through.

Meanwhile, in another skillet, add rest of olive oil, and when ready, add proscuitto and cook for 1-2 minutes per side or until crisp. Transfer to plate. Add zuchinni and garlic, and cook until vegetables are very tender. Once you remove the chicken from the oven, transfer zuchinni, garlic, and prosciutto to skillet with the chicken. Sprinkle lemon juice on top, and then divide among plates.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gourmet Done Family Style

Unique. Delicious. Comforting.

What a fun twist on your ordinary meatloaf. I have to say, what first attracted me to this recipe was not the meatloaf itself, but the red wine currant sauce drizzle over the top of it. If that doesn't scream fancy restaurant I don't know what does. But if sweet dark glazes are not to your liking, this turkey meatloaf stands well on it's own. There wasn't a person at gaming group last night who didn't express overwhelming satisfaction with the meal.

This recipe is super simple to assemble and makes ample proportions. The recipe even includes instructions for freezing half and baking again at a later date if 10 servings is too much all at once. I used a good quality free range ground turkey for the meat. If you cannot find sun-dried tomato sprinkles, just dice up some sun-dried tomato halves found in the dried fruit section of your grocery store. Do not use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil or it will make your meatloaf too greasy. Also, be sure to use a meat thermometer to make sure that the ground turkey gets cooked all the way through. We enjoyed this with a nice green salad on the side and french baguette slices dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Sun-Dried Tomato Meat Loaf with Red Currant-Wine Sauce

Red currant jelly and wine make a quick, rich sauce that is a nice change from the typical ketchup topping. Serve with mashed potatoes. If you decide to freeze one of the meat loaves for later, make half the amount of red currant-wine sauce now and half when you bake the frozen meat loaf.

Meat loaf:
Cooking spray
3 (1-ounce) slices white bread
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1/3 cup sun-dried tomato sprinkles
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 pounds ground turkey breast
2 large eggs

1/2 cup red currant jelly
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400°.

Coat 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans with cooking spray; set aside.

To prepare meat loaves, place bread in food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form. Combine breadcrumbs, onion, and next 7 ingredients (onion through eggs). Divide meat mixture in half. Press each portion into prepared pans.

Bake at 400° for 55 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 180°.

To prepare sauce, combine jelly, wine, and flour in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 5 minutes or until jelly melts.

To freeze unbaked meat loaf: Prepare through Step 3. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.

To prepare frozen unbaked meat loaf: Thaw completely in refrigerator (about 24 hours). Preheat oven to 400º. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover meat loaf with reserved foil; bake at 400º for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 180º. Prepare half of red currant-wine sauce; serve over meat loaf.

Yield: 10 servings, 5 per pan (serving size: 5 ounces meat loaf and about 1 tablespoon sauce)

CALORIES 271 (19% from fat); FAT 5.6g (sat 2.8g,mono 1.6g,poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 35.2g; CHOLESTEROL 122mg; CALCIUM 193mg; SODIUM 435mg; FIBER 0.8g; IRON 2.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 18.4g

Cooking Light, MARCH 2003

Slow-cooked goodness

When living in Los Angeles, there's not many opportunities to use your slow-cooker as it just heats up your home further. When we lived in Seattle, I used at least once a week. Not only did it help warm up the kitchen but it made our home smell so good.

This week it's been very cold (for us Angelinos) and so when meal planning this week I threw in a slow-cooker recipe. It was a bit of a challenge as my slow-cooker cookbook is filled with high calorie and high fat recipes, based mainly of creamed soups and/or milk. I did find one, however, that intrigued me, and there was no cream or tomatoes! Bonus! Extra bonus was it only took 2 hours to cook so I could make it after I got home from work. It was very filling and only 192 calories per serving, I felt really good about my healthy and tasty recipe choice. This one is definitely going in the "make again" pile.

Sausage and Wild Rice Casserole


1 package long grain and wild rice mix with seasoning packet
3 sausage links (I used pre-cooked ones from Trader Joe's), cut up
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
2-2 1/2 cups water

Brown sausage, onions, and celery, and put into slow cooker. Add rice and seasoning packet, then pour in water. Cook on LOW for 2-3 hours, or until water is gone and rice is tender. Serves 3-4.

Iron Chef Extension

Congratulations to everyone who submitted a recipe for the first Iron Chef Challenge. Iron Chef Camille, Iron Chef Lena, and Iron Chef Kevin all deserve a round of applause for their fantastic cuisine creations.

Today was the last day to get in your recipes for Battle Potato. However, I am going to be the first to break my own rule and turn my recipe in late. Haha. It's good to be a moderator! Granted, I've already started my recipe but it's a 24 hour project and won't be completed until tomorrow. So, for those Iron Chefs who still want to submit for Battle Potato, you can have until the end of the weekend to submit your recipe and I'm going to shift the timing for future challenges so that they can end on a weekend instead of weeknight for those chef's whose weekday schedules are a little tight. (Not that I have any excuse right now!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Gnocchi with Venetian Sauce


Potatoes were an interesting choice. I had fun trying to figure out what I could do that was simple, but all from scratch. In general I try to cook with the freshet ingredients as possible. I think it makes the dishes that much better.

When I first started to make gnocchi I thought it was going to be difficult. It is really very simple. As a side note, the dough doesn't keep very well after you make it. I tried. Oops.

As far a sauce goes, I don't use store bought any more. It is too easy to make your own, and more fun. This sauce is best served the day you make it, but my other red sauces you can freeze. Well, enough talk here it is.

Gnocchi with Venetian Sauce

2 Medium Sized Russet Potatoes

¼ cup flour

Pinch Nutmeg

Bring pot of water to a boil. Scrub potatoes and boil until fork tender, around 30-45 min. Drain, peel and put the potatoes into a large bowl, careful their hot. Make sure you get all the skin and discolored pieces out otherwise your gnocchi will look odd. Stir in the flour and the nutmeg. You are going for an easy to handle dough. However, too much flour will render the potatoes tasteless. Kneed the dough on a lightly floured surface for a couple of minutes. Break off a small piece and roll into a cylinder. Cut it into 1 inch pieces. If you want you can roll the pieces on the back of a fork to get the lines, but it will not effect the flavor. Place the pieces on wax paper until ready to cook.

In the meantime bring another pot of water to boil. There should be enough water for the gnocchi to swim and not touch the others. When boiling, drop a few bits of gnocchi into the water. They will cook faster than you think. Leave them in the water for about a minute after they have risen to the surface. Scoop out with a slotted spoon onto plates.


Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tbls butter

4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

1 large shallot, finely chopped

Crushed Red Pepper to taste

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup veggie stock

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen)

Handful fresh basil, rolled and sliced

Heat a sauté pan with 2-3 tbls olive oil and the butter over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add red pepper flakes and shallots. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add wine and reduce by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and tomatoes. Saute until sauce is as thick as you desire, 3-5 minutes or so.

Spoon sauce over gnocchi and top with basil, fresh ground black pepper, kosher salt, and fresh Parmesan cheese.



Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hearty and Heart Healthy

Yesterday was a dismal dreary day with lots of rain and a freezing cold house with a heater on the fritz. It made for perfect timing to try out this new soup recipe I've been meaning to get to for a couple of weeks now. I got everything started around 4:30 so by the time Don walked in the house around 5:00 he got hit with all of the awesome aromas of the smoky bacon, caramelized onions, roasted chicken, and reduced port broth. Served along side some garlicky lemon steamed broccoli spears and the fresh banana bread I baked that day, this meal really hit the spot. Healthy though it is, do not be fooled. The wild rice in this recipe makes it more filling than you can possibly imagine. And it was a very nice and subtle change to have a chicken soup recipe with a red wine base for once. This is definitely going in the folder of make again recipes. I can't wait to have the leftovers for lunch today. Additionally, I have enough leftover meat from the roast chicken I bought for this that I can use it to make my barbecue chicken pizza recipe again tonight. Hooray for double duty meals!

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

6 cups water
2 cups uncooked wild rice
3 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped (about 3 ounces)
5 cups thinly sliced red onion (about 1 large)
1/4 cup port or other sweet red wine
6 cups Brown Chicken Stock
3 cups shredded roasted chicken breast (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan, and stir in wild rice. Reduce heat; simmer, partially covered, 35 minutes or until rice is tender. Drain and set aside.

Place bacon in an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat. Cook 10 minutes or until bacon begins to crisp, stirring frequently. Add onion; increase heat to medium-high. Cook 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Add port, and simmer 8 minutes or until port evaporates. Add stock; simmer 5 minutes. Stir in rice, chicken, and remaining ingredients, and simmer 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)

CALORIES 345 (24% from fat); FAT 9.3g (sat 3.1g,mono 3.8g,poly 1.6g); PROTEIN 27.5g; CHOLESTEROL 63mg; CALCIUM 36mg; SODIUM 283mg; FIBER 3.9g; IRON 1.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 37g

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2003

Brown and Mushy

Question: What's brown and mushy and has spots all over?
Answer: An overripe banana.

One of the many things I admire about my friend Katy is her economical and spontaneous creativity in the kitchen for creating pantry recipes (a.k.a. using up items she already has on hand.) While I am great at hunting for recipes and good at following a plan, I am terrible at letting leftover items go to waste that do not have a pre-designated purpose. So I am very proud of myself this week for taking three rotten bananas and turning them into the ultimate treat -- Banana Bread -- instead of throwing them in the trash like I normally would.

Below is the quick and simple recipe I followed courtesy of Simply Recipes. The banana bread made a delicious accompaniment to the soup I served for dinner last night and a nice breakfast treat this morning served with hot coffee. Next time I think I will add some chopped walnuts for a little extra crunch.

Banana Bread

  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour

No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Simply Recipes http://www.simplyrecipes.com

Friday, January 18, 2008

Potatoe & onion soup

As soon as Cindy mentioned her Iron Chef challenge, I had two thoughts - she has waaaay too much free time ;) and secondly, the much happier one - I can do that and I know exactly what I'm cooking!

Since I'm lucky enough to go through the Swedish school system when home-economics actually included the textbook including lots of quick and easy recipes for two, this recipe is from my home-economics book. About 30 minutes from beginning to end.

Potatoe & Onion Soup

1/2 leek or 1 yellow onion

1/2 tbs margarine or butter
3 medium size potatoes
2 cups of water
1 bullion cube (I use Knorr's vegetarian bullion cube).
salt (optional)
pepper (optional)
2 tbs cut parsley or leek for decoration (optional)

  • Peel and rinse the potatoes; clean and rinse the leek. Cut into thin slices.
  • Melt the margarine in a pot (about 3 quarts size).
  • Fry the onion in the melted margarine (just for a little bit so that the onion is soft).
  • Add potatoes, water, bullion cube, stir and bring to a boil.
  • Turn down the heat and allow the soup to simmer for about 15 minutes under lid.
  • When the soup is done, add salt and pepper to taste, whisk the soup to break up the potatoes.
  • Decorate with either parsley or leek (optional).

This has been a staple recipe for me ever since I moved out of the college dorms, so by now I just eyeball this ... if I have too much potatoes, I just add more water. I always use yellow onion, I'd like it better that way.

Tonight I just used half a yellow onion and four potatoes and it turned out great. I always skip the salt, but always add a little pepper to spice it up. I'm pretty sure it would be OK to substitute the water and the bullion cube with two cups of chicken broth, but I have never tried that. Added bonus, leftovers taste great for lunch the next day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Easy Chicken Dinner

Tonight I meet your challenge, Cindy! I have used to potatoes in tonight's dinner. I'll admit, it's not a new recipe but it's one of my favorites. The bonus is it's easy, super healthy, and makes the house smell oh so good.

I volunteered for a KCTS fund drive a few years ago with my Mom and Dad, and they had a huge pile of cookbooks on clearance sale! I picked up a few, including "Healthy Cooking For Two" and there are some amazing recipes in there, enough for just 2 people should you have limited food or are single and don't want leftovers for 4 nights. The following is probably one of my top 3 picks from the entire book simply because it's so easy and tastes so good. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Chicken Dinner in a Pocket


aluminum foil
2 boneless chicken breasts halves, skinned
1 medium potato, sliced (approx. 6oz)
4 slices onion (which I left out)
2 small carrots, sliced
1/8 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/8 teaspoon salt
dash black pepper
dash Louisiana Hot Sauce (which I leave out)

Using 2 layers, make 2 stacks of aluminum foil large enough to wrap ingredients and fold over. Place 1 breast on each stack of foil; divide potato, onion, carrots, dill, salt, pepper, and hot sauce evenly between the 2 stacks (I eyeball the seasonings). Bring sides of 1 sheet of foil up around the chicken and vegetables folding over to seal. Then bring sheet of foil up in opposite direction, folding over to seal. Repeat for second dinner. When ready to cook, preheat grill*. Reduce flame to medium-high; place on hot grill about 6 inches from coals, grill for about 25 minutes, turn and continue to cook about 20 minutes or until chicken and vegetables are tender.

*Can be baked in a 400-degree oven for 45-50 minutes.

Yield: 2 servings

1 serving contains:

Cal: 238kc Prot: 29g Fat: 3g Carb: 22g Fiber: 4g Chol: 73mg Sodium: 239mg

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

No citrus for this cook!

Since this is a cooking and thus food based blog, I shall spare the details. But be warned that my future recipes, at least for the next month, will be citrus free. This includes no tomatoes, limes, lemons, onions (I can only have them if they are well cooked), and I'm also supposed to avoid chocolate and caffeine...hah! One list at at time folks.

I must say I didn't realize that tomatoes are in practically every pre-cooked fast-food at the grocery store so this will be a challenge. This leaves out most foods where I get my natural vitamin C plus most Mexican and Italian dishes - my favorite kinds! Alas, I will be challenged in my tiny-kitchen to come up with non-tummy-abrasive dishes that are still tasty.

Stay tuned!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cooking Light, Italian Style!

Spinach Fettuccini

This recipe also turned out pretty well overall. Even Kirstie liked it, which really passes the taste test! The preparation was a little cumbersome, as I discovered it would have been much easier having a pair of extra hands in the kitchen. There are times when one person could be doing the "stirring with a whisk" role while the other person is getting the next ingredients ready. If I use this recipe again I will be sure to plan it for a time when I can use the teamwork method.

I used spinach fettuccini noodles, so it made for an extra spinachy dish. It could have used a little more garlic than called for. I ended up adding some garlic salt to the leftovers to help bring out the flavor a little more. I also used fat free half and half and added another splash when reheating the leftovers. I loved the fresh crumbled bacon as this really added to the "homemade" taste. Since I rarely cook bacon at home, this was a real treat. Omit the bacon for a vegetarian-friendly meal. For the cheese I used a preshredded combination of parmesan/romano/asiago. I did not add the parsley.

1 pound uncooked fettuccine
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
10 center-cut bacon slices, cooked and crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)
Parsley sprigs (optional)

Cook pasta according to package instructions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add reserved pasta water and cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

Combine broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture to pan, stirring with a whisk to combine; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add pecorino Romano, stirring until smooth. Add half-and-half, salt, and pepper. Stir in spinach. Combine cheese mixture and pasta in a large bowl, tossing to coat.

Place about 1 cup pasta mixture in each of 8 bowls; top each serving with 2 1/2 tablespoons bacon. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Yield: 8 servings

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 365(30% from fat); FAT 12.2g (sat 6.3g,mono 3.3g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 15.9g; CHOLESTEROL 34mg; CALCIUM 188mg; SODIUM 681mg; FIBER 2.3g; IRON 1.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 46.6g

Kathy Gordon, Mission Viejo, California; Cooking Light, August 2006

Kama Sutra Iron Chefs

The Cooking Kama Sutras are taking it up a notch. To spice up our website a bit and bring a little more excitement and inspiration into our kitchens, I've decided to start a little Iron Chef Challenge. Once a week -- or when we have time or when we feel like it -- we will post a new secret ingredient. The challenge will be, much like the Iron Chef show to try to come up with the best recipe you can which really features the best qualities of that ingredient. It can be something that you invent from scratch, something you have made a hundred times before but just want to share it with other people, or a new recipe from your cookbook collection or internet database. It can be an appetizer, main dish, side dish, or dessert. The possibilities are only as limited as your imagination. The only rules are that after the secret ingredient is listed, you will have a certain period of time in which to select your recipe, prepare it, taste test it, and then post it and review it before we pick the next secret ingredient. Even if the recipe turns out to be a total flop, go ahead and post it anyway and give your honest critique. You still get credit for participating.

I would love for as many people to participate as possible. If you want to join in the fun but aren't already on the list of contributing chefs just let me know and I will add you. Unlike the real Iron Chef show (Japanese or American depending on your tastes) among the Kama Sutra Iron Chefs there are no winners and losers. This is just a fun opportunity to share our excitement over cooking and help us to gain more experience in the kitchen as we try new things.

And with that, the first ever Kama Sutra Iron Chef secret ingredient is going to be ...


...of any kind. I thought I would start us off with something easy so that everyone would be comfortable taking a shot at it. Still with such a simple household staple product as potatoes, I will be interested to see the incredible variety of dishes that people come up with. Everyone has until January 24th to submit their recipe before we pick a new secret ingredient. Ready...Set...Cook!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Simple Reminder

Tonight we had Jeremy and Katy over for dinner and games and I decided to serve this simple yet savory stir-fry. Yes, I have made it before. But this time, as we all sat down together, the steam still rising from the fresh cooked meal on our plates and started to dig in, all I could think about was how much better this was than any ready made convenience meal we could have picked up tonight. Everyone has those times when we get too busy, too lazy, too impatient, or just too impulsive to bother with cooking. It can be so much easier to give into the temptation of fast food or a ready made meal from the supermarket deli. But it's recipes like these -- listening to the fresh locally grown vegetables sizzle in the pan; the aromas of garlic, ginger, and toasted sesame wafting through your house; perfect meat marinade carefully adjusted to your own personal preferences -- which make me remember why I love cooking even if it seems like a lot of work sometimes. Despite the extra time in planning and preparation that cooking requires, there still is nothing that tastes better than a meal that you put together and brought to life yourself. And of course that feeling is always magnified when you can share it with friends whether it be an actual dish in person or over the internet in a blog like this.

This meal is not difficult to prepare at all but the cooking times are very fast so make sure you have everything prepped, peeled and chopped, before you start any of the cooking process. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and a nice tall glass of cold milk.

Sesame Beef and Asian Vegetable Stir-Fry


1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1/4 cup Chinese black (Chinkiang) vinegar or rice vinegar, divided
4 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
3/4 pound top round, cut into1/4-inch strips
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons peanut oil, divided
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted and divided
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups red bell pepper strips
1 1/2 cups frozen blanched shelled edamame (green soybeans), thawed
1 cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps
1 (15-ounce) can whole baby corn, drained
1/2 cup diagonally cut green onions
3 cups cooked jasmine rice


Combine 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons vinegar, sesame oil, and five-spice powder in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add beef; toss to coat. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove beef from bowl; discard marinade.

Combine 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons vinegar, water, and cornstarch, stirring with a whisk.

Heat 1 teaspoon peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef; stir-fry 1 minute. Remove beef from pan. Add 1 teaspoon peanut oil, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, ginger, and garlic to pan; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add bell pepper, edamame, mushrooms, and corn; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add beef and cornstarch mixture; stir-fry 3 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat; stir in 1 tablespoon sesame seeds and onions. Serve over rice.


6 servings (serving size: 1 cup stir-fry and 1/2 cup rice)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 434(30% from fat); FAT 14.4g (sat 3.3g,mono 4.8g,poly 3.5g); PROTEIN 21.7g; CHOLESTEROL 36mg; CALCIUM 62mg; SODIUM 318mg; FIBER 6.3g; IRON 3.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 55.9g

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2003

Pizza with Pizazze

One of the things Don and I used to love trying during our early exploits in the kitchen as a young couple was putting together our own different versions of specialty pizzas. One that we turned to a lot was inspired by our favorite pizza place in Bellingham - a wood-fire grilled pizza kitchen called La Fiamma's, and one of the restaurants we miss most out of all the places we have ever lived or eaten. Not only did they have the coolest atmosphere there which included heated seating on their porch, but they also had our favorite pizza ever the "Pizza Diablo." It had a nice smoky flavor, with spicy sauce, sausage, and sliced hot cherry peppers which significantly upped the heat factor and flavor factor as the juices soaked out into the cheese and surrounding crust. Of course we always substituted pepperoni for the sausage because of it's clear superiority.

Besides having the most amazing single pizza dish we have ever tasted -- the Diablo -- La Fiamma's also had the best ranch dressing I have ever tasted, made from scratch and infused with dill so fresh it tasted like it had just been snipped form the garden that morning. The day that we happened to think to combine the two, the cherry pepper-pepperoni-goodness dipped in the buttermilk nectar of the gods, is the day that we knew we had achieved pizza perfection and that no other toppings, cooking method, or complimentary condiments could ever combine in such a way as to exceed the awesomeness of this pizza. Below is our homemade version of this delicious masterpiece. Of course it will never taste as good as it did under the warmth of the heat lamps on a cool winter's night looking out across downtown Bellingham with great friends that we miss dearly. But it will do in a pinch.

Pizza Diablo De Casa Early

1 ready made pizza crust such as Bobili
2/3 cup prepared spicy pizza sauce or spicy pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Sliced pepperoni (to taste)
6 - 8 jarred hot cherry peppers stemmed and sliced with or without seeds for extra heat
Ranch dressing for dipping (optional)

Spread sauce on pizza crust. Topped with cheese, pepperoni, and peppers. Cook according to crust package directions.

Another of our favorite specialty recipes that we created again during our first year together was the Pesto-based pizza. We had fun varying the toppings and trying new combinations but they usually boiled down to something along these lines:

Greek Inspired Pesto Pizza

1 ready made pizza crust such as Bobili
1/2 cup prepared basil pesto sauce
2 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Thinly sliced mushrooms
Sliced Kalamata Olives
Sun-dried Tomato Strips

Spread pesto on pizza crust. Top with garlic, cheese, mushrooms, olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Bake according to crust package directions.

Finally, in the more recent years of our marriage, we discovered this new recipe for Barbecue Chicken Pizza to add to our file of exciting specialty pizzas. These days, we are upgrading the fancy factor of our homemade pizzas by starting with a ready-mixed refrigerated pizza dough from Trader Joes which we work and cook ourselves before adding the toppings. This recipe works especially well with the whole wheat crust. Be very liberal with the cilantro. It is surprising how well it compliments the barbecue sauce - a unique flavor combination you won't find elsewhere. I have never seen a grilled pizza that turned out well that wasn't cooked by a professional chef so we skip the grilling instructions and bake it directly in the oven. Katy helped me put this together last night during an exciting game of miniatures, in which I should mention that the girls completely wasted the guys. She also described to me the awesomeness of a pizza stone which I DO NOT have and now desperately want.

So I've showed you mine. Now you show me yours. What do you like to put on your homemade pizza?

Grilled Barbecued-Chicken Pizza


2/3 cup barbecue sauce, divided
1 cup (about 6 ounces) roasted skinned, boned chicken breast (such as Tyson), chopped
2 (10-inch) Quick-and-Easy Pizza Crusts
Cooking spray
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded smoked Gouda cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Combine 1/4 cup barbecue sauce and chicken in a bowl. Toss well; set aside.

Prepare grill. Place 1 crust on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes or until puffy and golden. Turn crust, grill-mark side up; spread with 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce. Top with half of Gouda, chicken mixture, mozzarella, and green onions. Cover; grill 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese melts and crust is lightly browned. Sprinkle with half of cilantro. Repeat with remaining crust and toppings.


6 servings (serving size: 1/3 pizza)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 315(24% from fat); FAT 8.4g (sat 3.3g,mono 3.1g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 17.7g; CHOLESTEROL 33mg; CALCIUM 147mg; SODIUM 686mg; FIBER 0.9g; IRON 2.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 41.1g

Cooking Light, JUNE 1997

All American Chili

I remember never being a fan of homemade chili growing up. Sorry Mom. We did use ground venison as the meat of choice which was an obvious awesome touch, but other than that, the flavor was mild and unimaginative, the kidney beans were dry and tasted like stirofoam, and what preadolescent in their right mind enjoys giant chunks of soggy cooked whole tomatoes, green peppers, and onions? Besides that, Homemade Chili was the budget meal where you could make one giant pot and feed your family of five off of it for the next week. And let me tell you, to my twelve year old budding tastebuds, Chili tasted just as good (or in this case bad) the second, third, and fourth time around as it did the first.

So it took me a long time in my adult life to have any interest whatsoever in trying to tackle the task of mastering homemade chili or even experimenting with it whatsoever. But eventually no matter who you are, the economic realities of being a young twenty-something set in when you are still working in an entry level job, paying back student loans, trying to save for a wedding, and there are those weeks and periods where finances are tight and you need to find ways to stretch your food budget for a few days until the next paycheck comes in.

I still remember, during one such period, turning to the first ever Cooking Light Cookbook that I had ever owned (a wedding gift from my former boss) and leafing through the pages when I spotted a picture of a single bowl of chili that through the magic of a master food photographer had managed to make it shine like a beacon of glory to penniless paupers who still craved a quality home cooked meal. So I set aside my doubts and took a crack at this mecca of a chili recipe and have never looked back. Now, when I crave a comforting bowl of this childhood staple (which in my actual childhood was never so comforting) I turn to this appropriately titled recipe -- "All American Chili."

The flavoring of this chili is so sophisticated it makes budget feel gourmet. The wine infuses everything as it cooks down and concentrates to form a nice sweet contrast to the smokiness of the spices and the heat of the sausage. Roughly chopping the whole tomatoes before adding them to the stew helps them to break down even further during the cooking process and gives it a more rustic feel. And cooking the chili for an extended period not only helps with the overall taste but allows for enough time for those drab kidney beans to get moist all the way through and significantly reduces the stirofoam factor. Finally, at only 375 calories a bowl for this hearty meal, you can enjoy to your hearts content without any of the guilt. I served this on Wednesday for our gaming group with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and frito chips for garnish. It fed a hungry crowd of 7 and still had enough leftovers for two more bowls the next day.

All-American Chili


6 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground sirloin
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 cups Merlot or other fruity red wine
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, undrained and coarsely chopped
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese


Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage, onion, and the next 4 ingredients (onion through jalapeño) to pan; cook 8 minutes or until sausage and beef are browned, stirring to crumble.

Add chili powder and the next 7 ingredients (chili powder through bay leaves), and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, tomatoes, and kidney beans; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Uncover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard the bay leaves. Sprinkle each serving with cheddar cheese.

Note: Like most chilis, this version tastes even better the next day.


8 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups chili and 1 tablespoon cheese)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 375(29% from fat); FAT 12g (sat 4.6g,mono 4.1g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 28.9g; CHOLESTEROL 59mg; CALCIUM 165mg; SODIUM 969mg; FIBER 8.2g; IRON 5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 33.7g

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2003

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Middle Eastern Chicken Salad Wraps

This recipe, again from the August 2006 issue of Cooking Light, provides a fabulous Middle Eastern twist on Caesar Salad. It was incredibly tasty--especially the combination with the layer of garlic hummus. I also tried some new flat bread that was deliciously moist--I will definitely purchase it again in the future: Light Flat Out Wraps (100% stone ground whole wheat).

I took leftovers in my lunch the next day. Although the leftovers were almost just as good as the first time around, the flavor of the caesar dressing was a little more muted. Next time, I would add a little more dressing to the leftovers.

I give two thumbs up for this recipe: one for the flavor of the food itself and the other for ease of preparation.

Purchased salad dressing and roasted garlic hummus combine with lettuce and chicken breast for a no-cook sandwich.

6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers
1/4 cup light Caesar dressing (such as Ken's)
1/2 cup hummus with roasted garlic
4 (10-inch) whole wheat flatbread wraps (such as Toufayan)

Combine first 4 ingredients. Spread 2 tablespoons hummus over each wrap; top each wrap with about 2 cups lettuce mixture; roll up. Cut each wrap in half crosswise.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 halves)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 336(22% from fat); FAT 8.1g (sat 1.1g,mono 2.6g,poly 3.4g); PROTEIN 25.8g; CHOLESTEROL 50mg; CALCIUM 76mg; SODIUM 591mg; FIBER 10.8g; IRON 3.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 41.2g

Karen Levin, Cooking Light, August 2006

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A New Twist on Spinach

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays have passed--and I have returned home from a lovely vacation in sunny LA--I have made it back to the kitchen and already tried out a couple of new recipes.

This first recipe intrigued me with its unique combination of ingredients: Spinach with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins. I love foods that combine several unique tastes and textures, so I felt inspired to try this one out. I was also excited by the fact that the recipe was described as Spanish-inspired, as that is one type of ethnic food that I have not yet had the opportunity to try, so I was interested to see how well I liked this particular combination of flavors.

The recipe is from the August 2006 issue of Cooking Light. It was simple to make--the biggest challenge was trying to stir the huge pot of fresh spinach without having several of the leaves jump overboard (I should have used a bigger pot!). If you have the same problem, don't be alarmed--after a few minutes the spinach at the bottom of the pot DOES begin to wilt and it becomes easier to stir as the pile begins to shrink. My favorite part of the recipe was the golden raisins--their sweetness was the perfect compliment to the strong flavor of the garlicky spinach.

For another unique twist in the future I might try the recipe using toasted almond slices in place of the pine nuts. This recipe paired nicely with grilled T-Bone steaks and corn.

This Spanish-inspired side dish is a sweet-savory combination of garlicky wilted spinach, buttery pine nuts, and golden raisins. One serving is a tasty way to pack in 114 milligrams of magnesium--about 25 percent of your daily needs.

1/2 cup boiling water
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 (9-ounce) bags baby spinach
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons pine nuts, toasted

1. Combine 1/2 cup boiling water and raisins; let stand 15 minutes or until raisins are plump. Drain.
2. Combine spinach and 2 tablespoons water in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook 3 minutes or until spinach wilts, stirring frequently. Remove from pan. Wipe pan with a paper towel.
3. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Add spinach, raisins, salt, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Stir in pine nuts.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 121(23% from fat); FAT 3.1g (sat 0.3g,mono 1.4g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 3.9g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 100mg; SODIUM 352mg; FIBER 6.7g; IRON 4.5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 24.1g
Maureen Callahan, Cooking Light, AUGUST 2006