Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cooking Light Night #14

Flipping through recipes, this is not something that would ever stand out to me or that I would be drawn to. The title is long and confusing and I'm not sure what chimchurri sauce even is. But for this one, I went purely off of other people's ratings on the website who gave it 5 out of 5 stars. Flank steak is a great meat to cook with if you are on a budget because it's inexpensive and can go a long way. But it can be tough and tasteless. The Chimchurri Sauce though is AMAZING and really makes this deal a delight. This is my new favorite way to prepare Flank Steak and we will definitely be making again and often. Loved it! If you're interested in cooking more and exploring new recipes but aren't sure what you like, try visiting a website and reading other people's reviews. Not only will it give you a good idea of the quality of the recipe, but often times you can get good tips from other people on preparation methods, variations, and great sides suggestions. Here were some of the reader reviews for this recipe:

cooker - Five Stars
WOW!!!! this was awesome. I was a little worried that not marinating the flank steak would make it tough, but not the case at all. The sauce definitely made this dish, sooooo good! very very easy to make. 08/16/08

Monique - Five Stars
Wow...so delish...and so easy to prepare! I'll be making this dish again, and again, and again... 08/10/08

velveetahead - Four Stars
While I think I would recommend a higher cut of meat then flank steak since it was kinda chewier than I would have liked. The sauce was excellent. I recommend the sauce highly. 08/07/08

My Review - Five Stars
This is a great and inexpensive way to dress up boring Flank Steak. It was so simple and easy to prepare. The added lime juice gives this a sweet refreshing flavor that makes this much more exciting than your basic pesto. Try serving with fresh spring greens and strawberry salad. Delish!

Garlic-Rubbed Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri is a traditional tangy herb sauce from Argentina that's usually paired with grilled meat. Set aside half of the flank steak for Steak Panzanella another night.

1/2 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large garlic clove
2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water
4 servings Garlic-Rubbed Flank Steak

1. Place first 7 ingredients in a food processor; process until finely minced. With processor on, slowly pour oil and 1 tablespoon water through food chute; process until well blended. Serve sauce with Garlic-Rubbed Flank Steak.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 ounces steak and 1 tablespoon sauce)

CALORIES 221 (50% from fat); FAT 12.4g (sat 3.2g,mono 7.1g,poly 1g); IRON 2.1mg; CHOLESTEROL 37mg; CALCIUM 33mg; CARBOHYDRATE 2.2g; SODIUM 349mg; PROTEIN 24.2g; FIBER 0.5g

Cooking Light, AUGUST 2008

Cooking Light Night #13

Here's a well balanced meal like my mother used to make - Chile-Spiced Tenderloin Steaks with Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Garlicky Green Beans. Of all the nutrition advice out there - food pyramids, low carb, low calorie, this, that, and the other - when it comes to creating a balanced meal, I think we were better off when we just had the four food groups. Every night for dinner growing up, my mom always did her best to make sure that the four food groups were well represented. Although I'm not sure my mom would have picked out these exact recipes, tonights Cooking Light Dinner #13 is still a tribute to her.

This is a very easy weeknight meal for four. I had a fun time putting the rub together and brushing it on the steaks. We did decide though that while not offensive, the lime juice was a little too acidic for the ideal flavouring of this tender beefy cut. I would like to try this rub again with just an olive oil base or something else in place of the lime. Also, it's getting dark out earlier now so it becomes more difficult to grill this time of year. Instead of grilling, I cooked the steaks in a hot cast iron skillet, four minutes on each side for a nice sear. Then, since a couple of the steaks were almost two inches thick in the middle, I also baked them for an additional 4 to 6 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees to get the middle cooked through to a nice medium /medium-rare. One way to know if a steak is done on a thick cut like this is to press into the steak with your finger, if the indentation stays, you need to cook it longer. If it bounces back up firmly then you are good to go. Other modifications to the recipes included leaving the skins on the Yukon Gold Potatoes for a little extra rustic texture (great idea Katy!) , and adding a splash of lemon juice to the Garlicky Green Beans to brighten up the flavor. Serve this with a tall glass of cold milk to complete your four food groups!

Chile-Spiced Tenderloin Steaks
Fire up the grill for juicy, flavor-packed steaks coated in a quick and easy marinade. Serve with baked fries and sliced ripe tomatoes for a complete meal. Time: 35 minutes.

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 (4-ounce) beef tenderloin steaks (about 1 inch thick)
Cooking spray

Prepare grill.
Combine first 9 ingredients in a small bowl, and rub marinade mixture evenly over both sides of steaks. Let steaks stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Remove steaks from marinade, and discard remaining marinade. Place steaks on a grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from grill, and let stand 5 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 steak)CALORIES 173 (35% from fat); FAT 6.8g (sat 2.6g,mono 2.7g,poly 0.3g); IRON 1.9mg; CHOLESTEROL 67mg; CALCIUM 29mg; CARBOHYDRATE 2g; SODIUM 424mg; PROTEIN 24.5g; FIBER 0.4g Cooking Light, JUNE 2007

Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Horseradish adds a peppery kick, but the potatoes are also good without it. Or add the horseradish last, just to the portion of potatoes reserved for the adults.

2 1/4 pounds cubed peeled Yukon gold potato
2/3 cup 2% reduced-fat milk, warmed
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain. Return potatoes to pan. Add milk and remaining ingredients; mash to desired consistency. Cook over low heat until warm.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)CALORIES 174 (28% from fat); FAT 5.5g (sat 3.4g,mono 1.4g,poly 0.2g); IRON 0.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 15mg; CALCIUM 29mg; CARBOHYDRATE 28.6g; SODIUM 315mg; PROTEIN 3.2g; FIBER 1.9g Cooking Light, JANUARY 2004

Garlicky Green Beans
If you can find them, use haricots verts, thin and tender green beans. Because this recipe is so simple, coarse freshly ground sea salt and black peppercorns really count.

2 cups green beans, trimmed
1 teaspoon butter
Cooking spray
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced

Cook beans in boiling water 2 minutes. Drain and plunge beans into ice water; drain.
Melt butter in a small nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add beans, salt, pepper, and garlic; cook 2 minutes or until heated.

Yield: 2 servings (serving size: 1 cup)CALORIES 54 (35% from fat); FAT 2.1g (sat 1.2g,mono 0.6g,poly 0.1g); IRON 1.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 5mg; CALCIUM 45mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8.4g; SODIUM 170mg; PROTEIN 2.1g; FIBER 3.8g Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2003

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cooking Light Night #12

Here is a fun new salmon recipe if you're looking to add new flavors into your life. That's what tonight's dinner was all about. Don did say that given the title of the dish, he was a little disappointed that the horseradish didn't come through stronger. So don't be scared away if you don't like horseradish. This definitely is a sweet dish and not a spicy one. The apple jelly and champagne vinager come together to form a subtle and yet sophisticated sweet glaze. Searing the Salmon Fillets in a hot skillet before baking it off in the oven gives it a nice crispy carmelization that compliments the other flavors well. And baking the fish in the same frying pan that you seared it in, saves dishes and extra clean up after dinner. We didn't have chives so we used green onions and that worked just as well. Now that we have all the ingredients, we will certainly make this again, and will surely entertain with it.

We also tried a new salad recipe tonight. It's definitely not for everyone with it's unusual combination of flavors and textures. In this recipe, cold Spinach Salad meets warm cooked apples and caramelized onions with spicy curry, tangy cider vinegar, and crispy salty bacon crumbles. I enjoyed it but probably won't make it again. I love apples in my salads, but I think I'll stick to raw and not cooked. If you decide to try this recipe, I recommend adding a little crumbled goat cheese if you have on hand.

Apple and Horseradish-Glazed Salmon

Mild apple jelly and hot horseradish pair well with rich salmon. Serve with a neutral-flavored side of couscous or rice.

1/3 cup apple jelly
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick), skinned
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine apple jelly, chives, horseradish, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring well with a whisk.

Sprinkle salmon with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add salmon, and cook 3 minutes. Turn salmon over; brush with half of apple mixture. Wrap handle of skillet with foil; bake at 350° for 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Brush with remaining apple mixture.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet)

CALORIES 375 (40% from fat); FAT 16.8g (sat 4.3g,mono 7.7g,poly 3.4g); IRON 0.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 90mg; CALCIUM 30mg; CARBOHYDRATE 18.1g; SODIUM 376mg; PROTEIN 36.4g; FIBER 0.1g

Cooking Light, MAY 2004

Spinach, Walnut, and Curried-Apple Salad

This warm spinach salad is sweet, salty, spicy, and crunchy. Add an extra 1/2 teaspoon of red curry powder for a spicier dish.

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced Granny Smith apple
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 teaspoon red curry powder
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon honey
8 cups fresh spinach (about 1/2 pound)
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled (drained)

Heat a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add apple and onion; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in curry powder; sauté 1 minute. Stir in vinegar, broth, and honey. Remove from heat.

Place spinach in a large bowl. Pour warm apple mixture over spinach; toss well. Sprinkle with nuts and bacon.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup)

CALORIES 74 (35% from fat); FAT 2.9g (sat 0.6g,mono 0.9g,poly 1.2g); IRON 1.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 2mg; CALCIUM 51mg; CARBOHYDRATE 11.3g; SODIUM 69mg; PROTEIN 2.5g; FIBER 2.4g

Cooking Light, MARCH 2002

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cooking Light Night #11

Don made this delicious and refreshing recipe tonight. The feta dressing was remarkably tasty. Definitely a Greek inspired dish, I liked this much better than a traditional Greek Salad. This would be the perfect meal for a hot summer night. For the plain yogurt, we used nonfat Greek yogurt from Trader Joes. Also, this would go really well with some fresh Toasted Pita Bread on the side. We will definitely make this again. Serve with a cool glass of Chardonnay.

Chicken Souvlaki Salad

The elements of a classic Greek salad and a chicken souvlaki sandwich combine in this piquant dish. You can also use lamb in place of the chicken.

2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic, divided
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast
3 cups cubed peeled cucumber (about 3 cucumbers)
1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives
2 ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1/4 cup grated peeled cucumber
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat grill or broiler.

Combine 1 teaspoon garlic and the next 6 ingredients (1 teaspoon garlic through chicken breast) in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal the bag and shake to coat. Remove chicken from the bag. Grill or broil chicken 5 minutes on each side or until done. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces.

Combine chicken, cubed cucumber, and the next 4 ingredients (cubed cucumber through tomatoes) in a large bowl. Combine yogurt and remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over chicken mixture; toss well.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 cups)

CALORIES 259 (28% from fat); FAT 8.2g (sat 3g,mono 3.4g,poly 1g); IRON 2mg; CHOLESTEROL 79mg; CALCIUM 161mg; CARBOHYDRATE 15.3g; SODIUM 679mg; PROTEIN 31.8g; FIBER 2.9g

Cooking Light, JUNE 2002

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cooking Light Night #10

I've been watching a lot of the show Biggest Loser lately. It is a really interesting and motivating show. I never thought I would learn as much as I have about living a healthy lifestyle. I've learned so many new exercises, tips, etc. But the one thing I am continually reminded of is how important it is to eat healthy and balanced foods to give your body the nutrients it needs to endure your workouts, build muscle, and maintain a healthy heart. Last night I came home from work, ran three and a half miles on the treadmill, did a 20 minute strength training workout on Exercise TV, and then made this tasty and hearty meal. I used smoked chicken Andouille sausage from Trader Joes and grilled chopped chicken breast instead of turkey. It was a fun and easy recipe with good flavoring and a nice kick of heat from the spicy sausage. I served with steamed broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. And I'm really looking forward to the leftovers for lunch today!

Turkey Jambalaya

Andouille sausage adds a kick to the Cajun classic from Louisiana. Rice and shredded turkey absorb a flavorful mixture of tomatoes and spices until they're bursting with flavor.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped onion1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

2 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup uncooked long-grain rice2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

2 cups shredded cooked turkey

6 ounces andouille sausage, chopped

2 tablespoons sliced green onions

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in bell peppers and next 5 ingredients (bell peppers through black pepper); sauté 1 minute. Add rice; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Add turkey and sausage; cover and cook 5 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup) CALORIES 249 (27% from fat); FAT 7.6g (sat 2.4g,mono 3.4g,poly 1.3g); IRON 2.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 42mg; CALCIUM 37mg; CARBOHYDRATE 27.4g; SODIUM 523mg; PROTEIN 17.3g; FIBER 2.7g

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2001

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cooking Light Night #9

I can't remember the last time my mouth was this happy. I think this is the best new recipe that I have tried in the last year. And I'm so excited that I have a cooking blog to share it with the world! Don and I don't even care for pork. We have found a couple of recipes that are tolerable, but this one is down right delicious! And it is as enjoyable to cook as it is to eat. With spices and flavors that don't make it into your every day meals such as cinnamon, all spice, and bourbon, it fills the house with amazing aromas while the pork sizzles and the sauce reduces. Give this one a try. You will not be disappointed.

Spiced Pork with Bourbon Reduction Sauce

Substitute chicken broth for bourbon, if you prefer. Serve with couscous or rice.

1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
Cooking spray

To prepare sauce, combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 11 minutes), stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

To prepare pork, combine chili powder, cinnamon, allspice, and salt, stirring well; rub evenly over pork. Cut pork crosswise into 12 slices.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with sauce.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 pork slices and 2 tablespoons sauce)

CALORIES 277 (13% from fat); FAT 4g (sat 1.4g,mono 1.8g,poly 0.5g); IRON 2.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 74mg; CALCIUM 29mg; CARBOHYDRATE 16.7g; SODIUM 673mg; PROTEIN 24.9g; FIBER 0.5g

Cooking Light, APRIL 2006

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cooking Light Night #8

Don prepared this dinner tonight and it was heavenly. Despite my adventurous spirit in the kitchen, I think this is the first time I've ever had shitake mushrooms. Me likey very much! The depth of flavor was both meaty and earthy and with a nice sweet caramelization. We served this with one of our new favorite side dishes - Spicy Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus (see post Cooking Light #1). Give this one a try. I'm sure you will like it as much as we did!

Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Shiitake Mushroom Sauce

The steaks are sautéed in cooking spray to create a crust, while the mushrooms are sauteed in butter for flavor. Since the mushrooms release liquid as they cook, the butter is less likely to burn. Shiitake mushrooms create a sublime sauce with deep, earthy flavor, but you can substitute any other mushroom variety. Serve with mashed potatoes and Broccolini.

4 (4-ounce) beef tenderloin steaks, trimmed (1 inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 8 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1. Sprinkle steaks with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add steaks to pan; sauté 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Transfer steaks to a serving platter.

2. Heat pan over medium-high heat. Add butter to pan, swirling to coat; cook 15 seconds or until foam subsides. Add garlic to pan; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until mushrooms are tender, stirring frequently. Stir in vinegar, 1 tablespoon water, and soy sauce; cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates. Spoon mushroom mixture over steaks. Sprinkle with thyme leaves.

Wine note: Merlot can be as serious as many cabernets. It's also a natural with both red meat and mushrooms, making it a good partner for this dish. California's Paso Creek Merlot 2005 ($20) has flavors of dark cherry and smoke with a savory edge that will highlight the thyme, while firm, drying tannins balance the steak and buttery mushrooms. —Jeffery Lindenmuth

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 steak, 1/4 cup mushroom mixture, and 3/4 teaspoon thyme leaves)

CALORIES 326 (31% from fat); FAT 11.2g (sat 4.7g,mono 4.2g,poly 0.5g); IRON 2.9mg; CHOLESTEROL 95mg; CALCIUM 34mg; CARBOHYDRATE 22.9g; SODIUM 428mg; PROTEIN 34.9g; FIBER 3.2g

Cooking Light, APRIL 2008

Brunch 'n Munch

One of my favorite childhood memories is breakfast/brunch on weekend mornings. My mom would make waffles or pancakes, and to mix it up she'd sometimes make what I always called Lazy Man Pancakes (the technical term is Dutch Babies). It's a fabulous pancake that poofs up in the pan when it's cooked, and it tastes excellent with plain yogurt and jam, or just good old fashioned maple syrup. No need to add butter as the pancake already has enough.

I made these for Matt on Saturday morning using my mom's recipe and it was the best yet. It was an emotional experience digging through those recipe cards in her handwriting, but it was also very special to have my mom with me as I cooked my hubby's birthday breakfast.

I hope you enjoy these pancakes as much as I did and always will.

Lazy Man Pancakes (also known as Dutch Babies)
Karin Mesmer and Grandma Elizabeth

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups milk
6 eggs
6 tablespoons butter
generous pinch nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter and pour into a large (9"x13") pan and swirl to coat the bottom surface. In a large bowl beat the flour and milk until smooth Add the eggs and nutmeg and continue beating until smooth. Pour into buttered dish and bake approximately 20 minutes. Do not open the oven door, but check in oven windowand remove pancake when it poufs up and begins to brown. Serve immediately with plain yogurt, berry jam, and maple syrup. Best served on warm plates.

Special note from Mom: This recipe can be cut in half or thirds. Use an 8"x11" pan for 1 cup and 4 eggs, or an 8"x8" pan for 3/4 cup and 3 eggs.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cooking Light Night #7

Many exciting things going on at the Early Household. Our friend Nathan just moved down to California to pursue his acting career. He will be staying with us over the next few days until he finds a place and then kick into job finding gear. We are so excited that he is down here and can't wait for Hannah to follow suit in the next few months. With lots going on, we've gotten a little off track with the meal planning, but now are back on schedule. Tonight we cooked up this quick dish and it was the easiest quickest one yet. I did the main dish and Nathan, my Sous Chef, prepared the salad. I kid you not, start to finish in less than 15 minutes.

The tomato sauce was really excellent and a quite flavorful with the salty kalamata olives, garlic, and chili flakes for an extra kick. (We turned the heat up by adding quite a bit of chili flakes for a nice little endorphin boost.) And the corn and black bean salad was so refreshing and delicious. The dressing was really tasty and even Nathan said he thought the salad was quite good even though he's normally not a salad person. We used leftover corn on the cob from the night before in the salad and will keep this in mind for future occasions too.

Tofu Steaks with Tomato-Olive Sauce

While tofu is often paired with assertive Asian seasonings, it also benefits from intense Mediterranean flavors. In this recipe, an easy olive-spiked tomato sauce enlivens pan-grilled tofu. Round out the meal with steamed broccoli and orzo. Each serving contains about 8 grams of soy protein.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1 pound extra-firm light tofu, drained and cut lengthwise into 4 slices

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add red pepper and garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Add olives; cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and black pepper; keep warm.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add tofu; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 tofu steak and 1/2 cup sauce)

CALORIES 115 (49% from fat); FAT 6.2g (sat 0.8g,mono 4.1g,poly 1g); IRON 1.9mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 77mg; CARBOHYDRATE 6.7g; SODIUM 363mg; PROTEIN 9.2g; FIBER 1.3g

Corn and Black Bean Salad

"I wanted a side dish that had a little spicy heat to serve with my pan-fried tilapia. I came up with this Mexican-inspired salad." -Peggy Kistler, Salem, OR

2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
1 cup diced red bell pepper (about 1 large)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of salt

Combine corn, bell pepper, onions, cilantro, and beans in a medium bowl.

Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle vinegar mixture over corn mixture; toss well. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)

CALORIES 74 (28% from fat); FAT 2.3g (sat 0.1g,mono 0.6g,poly 0.3g); IRON 0.8mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 19mg; CARBOHYDRATE 14.4g; SODIUM 208mg; PROTEIN 3.4g; FIBER 3.4g

Cooking Light, AUGUST 2006

Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2001

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Birthday Dinner

Last month I was parousing through the cable channels when I came across The Food Network and saw that Rachael Ray was on. I checked out the episodes and saw one that interested me. It was called "You and Me, Babe". It sounded like an excellent date night dinner, and that's exactly what she prepared.

Matt's birthday is today (Happy birthday, honey!) and since we planned to get together with friends tonight, I thought a good gift would be to make him dinner by cooking something that is out of the ordinary for me - lots of ingredients, lots of things on the stove, etc. - but it was less complicated that I thought. It did take more than half an hour - probably forty five minutes - but my hubby was completely satisfied. I paired it with a Kelsey Wine that really brought out all the flavors of the dish.

And the dessert. Words cannot describe how much we loved it! We each had two pieces, and I think I'll be bringing it to game night one of these weeks.

I have to say that I was really nervous about making this dinner. However, it turned out so well that all the nerves went away when I saw Matt's face as he tasted the chicken. And that was my ultimate goal. :)

CKS note: I was very fortunate to run into my friend Jenny at Trader Joe's. She is a chef and teaches cooking classes, so I asked her opinion on the recipe. She reccomended using cremini mushrooms instead of portobellos and shitakes, so that's what I did, and it not only saved my sanity (having to not clean out the shitakes) but made it easier on my budget!

On the dessert I only used strawberries as blackberries are out of season.

Chicken Marvalasala and Pappardelle with Rosemary Gravy
(Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray)

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 2 servings


3/4 pound pappardelle pasta (wide ribbons, substitute fettuccine if unavailable)
4 large, thin pieces boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets
Ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced
12 shiitakes, stemmed and sliced
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste, look for this in a tube (it's easy to store that way)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, eyeball it
2 tablespoons minced rosemary leaves, a couple of sprigs
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 cup Marsala wine
Grated pecorino Romano cheese
A couple handfuls arugula or baby spinach leaves, thinly sliced

Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When it comes up to a boil, salt the water, drop in the pasta, and cook to al dente.

While the pasta is working, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and brown lightly on both sides; remove to a platter and cover with foil to hold in heat. To the same skillet, add 2 tablespoons more extra-virgin olive oil and 1 clove garlic. Cook garlic a minute or so, then remove and add the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms brown evenly and become tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

While the mushrooms work, start gravy for pasta. In a deep medium skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add a clove of crushed garlic and cook a couple of minutes then remove. Whisk flour and tomato paste into garlic infused butter. Cook the flour a minute or 2 then whisk in the stock. Add rosemary and whisk in tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer to thicken, 5 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to your taste.

To the cooked mushrooms, add capers and Marsala and reduce a minute or so. Add 2 tablespoons butter in small bits to finish sauce and shake the pan to incorporate. Slide the chicken back into sauce and warm. Drain pasta and toss with sauce and a handful of cheese. Serve pasta alongside Chicken Marvalasala. Scatter arugula or spinach across both the chicken and pasta, to garnish.

Devilish Angel Cake with Wine Soaked Berries
(Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray)
Prep Time: 5 min
Inactive Prep Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 servings (you can have seconds, on a date night)

1/3 cup dry Italian red wine
3 tablespoons sugar
A few grinds black pepper
1/2 pint strawberries, sliced
1/2 pint blackberries
1 store bought angel food cake
Whipped cream, canister
Finely chopped fresh mint leaves or orange zest, for garnish

Combine wine, sugar, and pepper in a medium bowl. Add berries and soak 20 minutes. Cut the cake into thick slices. Serve wedges doused with wine soaked berries then garnish with whipped cream and fresh mint or orange zest.