Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More chicken, more veggies

I was actually pretty pleased with how this turned out, considering I just threw a couple of vegetables I liked in a pan with cooked chicken bits. I wouldn't submit this to any recipe contests, but it worked for us! Pretty paltry looking, isn't it? I know. Welcome to the lives of dieters. But by day two, it's not as bad as you think it is! No, seriously. Though I think my fiance would beg to differ!

I'll be off dreaming about macaroni and cheese while you guys read this blog. Remember, double to feed four! And add any kind of starch you like if you aren't denying yourself the joy of them.

Have with you:
- Two skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
- A few stalks of asaparagus; enough to feed both of you!
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp chicken broth/stock
- Your favorite poultry seasoning
- Reduced fat grated Parmesean cheese

On your way to ChickenTown:
1. Season your chicken, and heat in a wide skillet over medium heat with olive oil. Takes about five minutes on each side.
2. When chicken is cooked, remove from pan and set aside.
3. Deglaze with stock and lemon juice. Add garlic and cook for about two minutes.
4. Add asparagus and red peppers. Sautee for about a minute, then put a lid on it. Leave for one minute to let the veggies steam through and get slightly tender.
5. Return chicken to the heat and let it get a little of the yummy juices.
6. Plate it up! I thought the Parmesean cheese garnish really made the dish.

Only takes about 20 minutes to make this one! I'll be glad I came up with it when I'm wearing short shorts and crop tops this summer!

Holy Artichoke-y!

Welcome to the South Beach edition of the blog. Rule #1 of this diet (besides "don't eat carbs"), is DON'T GET BORED. I spent a lot of time trying to think up new ways to eat chicken that wouldn't put me or Marques to sleep. I keep working on him to try shellfish, but until then, creativity must reign. This recipe won't change your life, but it's pretty hearty for a meal without carbs.

I was inspired by lots of greek flavors for this dish, and substituted hearty veggies for any kind of starch that might have gone alongside. This dinner is South Beach Phase 1 friendly! Join us as we embark on the pre-pre-wedding diet (or, add your favorite pasta!) Easily doubles to feed four.

The Goods:
- 2 skinless chicken breasts
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 1 handful grape tomatoes
- 1/2 can artichoke hearts, quartered (in water - marinated is a whole other blog!)
- Reduced fat crumbled feta cheese, for topping
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp chicken stock
- Preferred seasoning: Lemon pepper or garlic pepper
- Olive oil
- Oregano

Make It!:

1. Heat 1-2 tbsp of olive oil in a large, oven safe skillet over medium heat.
2. Season one side of chicken with preferred seasoning (or whatever you have on hand) that resembles lemon and/or garlic pepper, and oregano (if dry, about 2 tsp. Less if you're using fresh). Place in heated oil SEASONED SIDE DOWN. Let sit for 3 mins
3. Season other side of chicken. Flip, and cook on that side for 3 minutes.
4. While chicken is cooking, preheat oven to 375.
5. Chop garlic and onion. Set aside.
6. When chicken is cooked almost all the way through (barely pink in the middle), remove from pan and set aside
7. Deglaze pan with chicken stock and lemon juice. Add garlic - MAKE SURE IT DOESN'T BURN. After one minute, add onion.
8. When onions are nice and transluscent and most of liquid has cooked off, drain artichoke hearts and add to pan. Heat through. Add grape tomatoes (don't forget to rinse them!)
9. Add chicken BACK to pan, top with feta cheese (just a few crumbles!) and put in oven to finish cooking. Feta will not completely melt, but will be somewhat gooey (and otherwise delicious).
10. After about 10 minutes (tops!), your dinner will be complete. Place onto a plate of your choice!

Don't Forget the South Beach Rules:

- Watch your portion size. A portion of meat is about the size of your fist. So, sure, this is a diet friendly meal, but not if you eat four servings
- Use reduced fat cheese. With feta, you hardly notice the difference in taste.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Creamy Chicken and Pasta with Zip!

Here be one of my "apply what I've learned on Food Network to what little I have in kitchen" applications. It shows up on our dinner table every other week or so in one incarnation or another, because it's way too easy and I like the way it tastes. There is always room for tweaks though, so I play around with it every time it hits the stove. You can use any pasta you like - bow tie works exceptionally well, though I've used angel hair in this recipe because it cooks more quickly. Change up the veggies as you see fit - or skip them all together. Your mom would be disappointed, though.

You'll Need:

- 2-3 boneless chicken breasts, or 6-7 chicken breast tenders

- 1/2 lb whole wheat pasta (angel hair, bow tie, fusili, etc.)

- 1 red bell pepper, julienned and halved

- 1 medium onion (white or yellow), diced

- 2 large cloves garlic, diced

- Chicken stock

- Flour

- 1 tbsp Butter

- Olive Oil

- Fat free half and half

- Crushed red pepper flakes

- Cayenne pepper

- Salt and pepper to taste


- Parmesean cheese

- Fresh basil, for garnish

Time to Cook!!!

1) Season the chicken however you like - I use a little cayenne, salt and pepper. In a large pan, brown the chicken breasts over medium heat - about 4-5 minutes on each side.

2) While the chicken is browning, dice your onion, garlic, and other veggies

3) While you're dicing, bring your water to a boil. Depending on the pasta you're using, you're shooting to time the pasta cook time with the end of the veggie cook time. The veggies and sauce will take no more than five minutes to come together, so if you're using a 10 minute pasta, make sure you get that in the water before you start the veggies. Cook the pasta according to the box instructions.

4) Back to the chicken. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside to redistribute the juice. reduce heat to medium low. Add 2 tbs olive oil and 1 tbs butter. Add onion and saute for one minute. Add garlic - saute for one more minute. WATCH THE HEAT! Garlic burns easily. If it's getting too brown too fast, bring the heat back a bit. Let the goods pick up all of those yummy chicken bits though.

5) Add red pepper and saute for two minutes (or any other hard veggie that you're cooking through. The onions should be nicely caramelized and there should be a minimal amount of fat leftover. This is when you sprinkle in the flour - add it like you would powdered sugar to pancakes. The rule is one to one; if you used 3 tbsp of fat, add 3 tbsp of flour (slowly). Mix to combine, and cook one more minute.

6) You should be draining the pasta by now; make sure it's al dente! Dice the chicken into bite size bits in the meantime.

7) Add chicken stock; about three turns of the pan. You'll see how it forms a little sauce as it begins to cook into the flour. Remember the golden rule: it's easier to add than it is to take away. So go less than what you think you need. It should resemble a melty paste.

8 ) Add the half and half, about a turn and a half of the pan.

9) Add chicken back into the pan to reheat, along with red pepper flakes and parmesean cheese. I also add basil at this point.

10) Add the drained pasta to the sauce. Mix to combine.

11) Garnish with any extra basil or parmesean cheese!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Zuppa Toscana

Special thanks to my friend Nicole, who provided the recipe for and inspired this amazing, spicy, tastes-better-than-the-version-at-Olive-Garden soup. This was super easy and fun to make. As usual with most of my concoctions, I went for the low-fat versions of just about anything. If you want to use pork sausage, heavy cream - go nuts. You won't hurt my feelings. But trust me, you won't taste the difference (it only counts when you're baking, which I don't do.)

You'll need:
8 1/2 cups (68 oz) chicken broth
1 pack ground hot turkey sausage
4 potatoes, halved and sliced (like moon shapes)
1 medium onion, diced small
2-3 large cloves garlic, diced small
2 cups kale, just the leafy tops, chopped (I found this to be about half of a large bunch that you get at Meijer. To disassemble the kale, just grab lightly against the stalk and rip upward. The leaves will pull right off)
1/3 cup fat free half and half
Salt and pepper to taste

Viva Italy!
1) Brown the sausage and onion in your soup pot over medium-high heat. You shouldn't need oil, as the fat from the meat will prove adequate. Drain if necessary and return to pot.
2) Add garlic and cook through for another minute. Careful not to burn the garlic!
3) Add potatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. FAT ALERT: You might have to do some skimming as the additional fat seeps out of the sausage and to the surface of the broth. You can do this with a regular soup spoon. It will come right off, so don't be scared of it.
4) Add kale, stir through, and cook for another five minutes, or until kale is tender
5) Remove from heat, and stir in the half and half just before serving
6) Salt and pepper to taste - If you used low sodium organic broth, you might want to add some salt for flavor. I used regular broth, and only needed about a pinch of each. I also added some cayenne pepper flakes, because I'm crazy that way

Recommended Garnishes:
- Whole grain artisan bread, hot and crusty!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is a killer dip that I made on New Year's Day for our Winter Classic/Football party. I have suggested lower fat ingredients, but you're of course welcome to grease it up. I mean, who doesn't want a heart attack on Super Bowl Sunday? Oh, and I can't take credit for the oily mess I've pictured below - I didn't take a picture of my results and I wanted to post this before Game Day. Mine looks much better. Trust me on this.

Behold! The greatest party dip you'll ever have. Impress your friends!

Required software:
3-4 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
2 (8 ounce) packages fat-free cream cheese, softened (buy the tubs – remove foil and microwave for about 15 seconds to soften)
1 cup Blue Cheese dressing 3/4 cup pepper sauce, such as Franks® Red Hot® (You could use Ranch, but I'd think you were stupid for doing so)
1 1/2 cups shredded light Sharp Cheddar cheese (or your cheese of choice)

Things for dippin:
Chicken in a Biskit Crackers
Corn chips – go with blue corn or organic – YUM!

1) Boil chicken breasts for about 15 minutes. Remove from water and pat dry. Shred breasts with two forks – pull in opposite directions. It’ll fall apart. For the love of all things holy, DO NOT USE CANNED CHUNK CHICKEN I WILL SUE YOU. Your patience will be rewarded.
2) Mix 3/4 of chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through.
3) Stir in cream cheese and blue cheese dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm. Add remaining chicken if you think the dip is too runny. Personal preference, I like it with more chicken.
4) Mix in 3/4 of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover, and cook on Low setting until hot and bubbly and blood-slowing. Serve with dippin’ goodness!

Chipotle Chili and Green Onion Corncakes

The Super Bowl is right around the corner, and everyone is scrambling for that showstopping dish-to-pass. And trying not to break the calorie bank. I figured there is no better way to start off a foodblog than with a good-for-you and zesty chili with all the fixins! And yes - this one has beans. I prefer kidney - you can go with any mixture you like. Black beans also go exceptionally well.

This recipe will serve about four standard servings, but if you're having a party, you could probably stretch it to at least 8-10. Feeling frisky? Why not double it - you'll be glad you have the leftovers by mid-week! Look at how tasty... Yum!

You'll Need:


1 lb extra-lean ground beef or turkey
1 can (the large 20oz size) of diced tomatoes - I prefer not chili ready, as I like to season myself
1 medium white onion, diced - Reserve some for fixins!
2 cloves garlic, diced
1-2 chipotles in adobo, chopped - Check in the imported foods aisle!
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 shimmy of Worcestershire sauce
1 shake of Tabasco - or whatever hot sauce you have on hand
Cumin, to taste
Mexican Chili Powder, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Corn Cakes:

1-2 green onions (scallions), chopped
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg - per the box
2 tbs shortening - per the box. I used Smart Balance!
3/4 cup skim milk - per the box

Make magic!

1. Prepare the mixture for Jiffy pancakes/Johnny Cakes as directed on the box. Add in chopped green onions. Set aside.
2. Coat the bottom of a large dutch oven in oil/fat of your choice. Over medium heat, sweat the diced onions and garlic.
3. When the onions are just translucent, add in your protein of choice. Break it down and begin to brown it up. Add your basic chili seasonings - I suggest two parts chili powder to one part cumin. A good place to start is 3 tbs chili powder to 1.5 tbs cumin. Remember: It's easier to add than take away. Start low if you think that's too much for you - you can always add later!
4. When the meat is brown, add in the chopped red, green and chipotle peppers. Chipotles in adobo have a strong flavor - go with one if you don't like zest, two if you do! Reserve the adobo sauce for later. Let this hang out for a few minutes.
5. Add just over 1/2 of your can of diced tomatoes and stir. See if it's the consistency you like. If you want more sauce, add another 1/4 of the remainder (I usually end up using about 3/4 of the can, but it really depends on how things soak up!).
6. Add a few shakes of the worcestershire and tabasco to taste!
7. Cover and simmer on low. Let it hang out and make sweet, flavorful love. You've been working 15 minutes now, so check back in another 10 and give it a taste. Too earthy? Add some chili powder or cayenne pepper. Not enough aroma/background flavor? Add some cumin.
8. Add in some of the adobo sauce for extra zazz!


- If your chili is a bit runny, you added too much tomato. Mix 1 tbs corn starch with 1 tbs of water, and add to the chili. It'll thicken up.
- If your chili is too spicy, you overestimated your heat tolerance. Add more tomatoes. If your chili is already too runny, see Troubleshooting #1.

Meanwhile, as the chili bubbles...

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat with cooking spray. Once the spray breaks up and looks heated through, add a silver-dollar sized dollop of your corn cake batter. You can probably fit 4-5 in each batch, depending on how big you dollop and the size of your skillet. Heads up! Batter spreads. Start sparse - they'll look small but end up about bowl size.
2. Keep the cakes in a tin foil tent while you finish the batch and the chili comes together.


- If you burn the corncakes, turn the heat down, Wes!

Suggested Fixins:

- Light sharp cheddar or monterrey jack cheese
- Light sour cream
- Diced onions

I like topping my bowl of chili with cheese, sour cream and a corn cake. If you don't eat four bowls of it (how could you not though? It's delicious!), it's really quite guilt-free and a real crowd pleaser. Enjoy!