Friday, October 30, 2009

A Giveaway on DiD!

Cooking is great, but sometimes we need a night off, eh? Checkout the Weekender post over at Deals In Denver this week to enter for a chance to win a GC to fabulous LaLa's Pizzeria and Wine Bar, and leave the (very delicious) cooking to someone else.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Laughing Cow Pork Chops

The Hub loves good old "meat and potatoes" type dishes.
Ya know what, actually, I do too. A LOT.
So this whole "high cholesterol" situation for him, coupled with my desire to maintain a reasonable weight and and diet that is at least "more-healthy-than-not" means that I have to get a little creative to keep us happy AND healthy at dinnertime.
Behold, the lighter stuffed pork chop.

I start with fairly thin (and regularly on sale for a great price) boneless pork loin chops:
Using a sharp, thin knife, I create a pocket in the center of the chop. Holding it flat with your hand and carefully slicing deeper and deeper into the chop, working slowly out to (but not breaking through) the edges of the chop:
Pretty, eh?

Then, I use one wedge of Laughing Cow Light spreadable cheese for each chop, and spread it around, covering the entire pocket:

Mies en Place Moment, I mix one egg white with two tablespoons of skim milk and a generous dash of Tabasco (ok, for us, a few generous dashes... you choose for yourself.)

Also, 1-1 and 1/2 cups of bread crumbs (I made these using the ends of whole grain loaves we have had over the past weeks - I stored the ends in the freezer until I built up a nice stash and then dried them in the oven and pulsed them in my beloved Food Processor,) with 1 teaspoon of Beau Monde seasoning, 1 teaspoon of Thyme, and 3/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper:

Then each chop gets dipped in the wet mixture, and the excess shaken off:

Then Coated in the dry mixture, patting the crumbs in to ensure a nice coating. First one side:

Then the other side:

Then both chops hunker down on a cooking-spray coated flat roasting rack, which lets the air flow all the way around each chop to create a crispy crust, and they cook for 25-30 minutes in a 400 degree oven:

Let them rest a few minutes on the rack when they come out of the oven and then plate them up! The center will be all ooooey-goooey, the outside crispy, and the meat nice and moist. Yum!

We enjoyed ours with some mashed potatoes with extra lean turkey bacon and 2% cheddar mixed in. The crunchy coating and cheesy centers mean that The Hub pays no mind to me using the thin chops (portion control, anyone?) Laughing Cow Light has only 35 calories a wedge, and is so creamy to begin with that you don't have to worry about it melting funky like some low cal cheese products. Finally, using the flat roasting rack allows the chops to get crispy, almost like a fried chop, but without all the grease - if the chops aren't getting the brown color you would like while baking, a LIGHT spray with cooking spray can help.

Now THAT is meat and potatoes done right!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Penne with Mushrooms, Arugula, and Brie

This month's Real Simple arrived at The Tree-house last week, and I couldn't wait to find a guinea pig to sample the recipe for Pasta with Brie, mushrooms and arugula on pg 310 (no way I was getting away with serving it to The Hub, who refers to arugula as weeds, as in "what are these weeds in my salad?" and "I don't want the weeds in my soup." Charming.)
So Aunt Keri's Kitchen took a field trip last night to whip up dinner for my beautiful girlfriend Terresa (and snoogle my adorable honorary niece, Harper.)
The recipe is so simple and the results so tasty, it kind of blows my mind.

Make a box (or 3/4 of box as the recipe suggests) of Penne according to the directions on the package while you assemble the rest of the dish:

First you chop 1 lb button mushrooms:

Then slice one small red onion:
If you are me, you have to pause several times to make faces like this and let onion tears roll down your cheeks:
Before you get this:

The Mushrooms and Onions go into a big skillet over medium heat until the shrooms start to sweat and the onion gets soft, then you add 1/2 cup of dry white wine. They suggested trying Vermouth as a substitute if you didn't have white wine around, (me, not have wine around? snort) so I decided to go for the Vermouth, just 'cause:

Also, salt and (since they go together like shamalama-ding-dong) pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of each, at this point and let it all cook until the liquid is just about gone:

While that is cooking away, chop 8 ounces of Brie into 1inch chunks. This brand seems to come in a can, which I have not seen before and made me feel like I was opening cat food or something

Mmmmmmm, Brie...
Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and add the pasta to the mushroom and onion mixture. Add 4 cups of baby arugula and the Brie chunks and toss to combine everything.

The peppery arugula, the creamy Brie, the earthy mushrooms - Oh. Mah. Gah.
So Good.

We also had a salad of green leaf lettuce, tomato, pear, and blue cheese with balsamic vinaigrette (same as the one I used earlier in the week.)

And, because Terresa is extra fabulous, I made these as an extra fabulous end to the meal:

Oh yeah.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stolen Moment - Pumpkin

Mmmmmm, Megan over at Nuts For Nutrition is tickling our taste buds with the flavors of Fall once again.
This time she makes a hearty, yummy-looking pumpkin nut loaf, and explains perfect pumpkin roasting along the way.

Sounds so perfect on this snowy day. Im'ma let her finish here. (Sory, I couldn't resist saying it.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pear and blue cheese salad with grilled steak

Through circumstances I couldn't even begin to explain in any reasonable time frame, we have started receiving fruit-of-the-month club shipments. (That's the gift that keeps on givin' Clark... It sure is, Eddie. It sure is.)
This month is pears. They are very good pears, and I am certainly not complaining, but the "what else to do with this fruit" question has popped up a time or two.

Last night? A simple salad of green leaf lettuce dressed with Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1 clove garlic, pressed
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons light oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Shake well to blend (I prefer a good old fashioned Mason Jar for shaking purposes.)
Feel free to use more oil, I am not a huge fan of oily salad dressings, myself.
On top of the greens, crumbled blue cheese, a couple of strips of crumbled turkey bacon, some grilled sliced rib-eye, and one perfect, juicy, fat, cubed pear.

Tangy from the dressing, salty and pungent from the cheese, hearty from the beef, and sweet from the pears - perfection in a mouthful.... mmmm...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

And now she's baking....

Blessedly at home today, instead of the office, I decided to try one more recipe from my new (used) copy of Betty Crocker's New Low Fat Low Cholesterol Cookbook (which hasn't really been "New" since 1996 - but which the fabulous Megan from Nuts For Nutrition recommended, so how can it not be totally awesome?)
Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup margarine or spread, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg white or 2 tablespoons cholesterol free egg product
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix sugars, margarine, vanilla, and egg white in large bowl.
Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt.
Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Cool slightly and remove to wire rack.

What I did differently, and a few observations:

I didn't want to make a special trip to the store for tiny chips, so I used the regular ones I had - and I had about 3/4 cup left, so they all went in. The dough was kind of weird when mixed. Sort of dry and separate from the chips (granted, maybe smaller chips would fix this.)

I used "egg product".
I used just under 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda - I just don't fill the measuring spoon quite full to compensate for our mile high air up here.
I made them bigger than called for- mostly because it was sort of a chore to form the dry dough and chips into cookies, and so they ended up larger than a rounded teaspoon.
I cooked each batch for 8 minutes and that seemed just about perfect.
I had my doubts, but these cookies actually bake up quite pretty. Lookie here:

Oh, and my Mother-in-law sent me this pumpkin spatula for Halloween - just FYI it is the perfect cookie-moving shape and will henceforth be used year round. Don't judge me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Betty Crocker Low Fat, Low Cholesterol Mac and Cheese

Here is the recipe as printed in the book:

7oz pasta shells or elbow pasta
1 tablespoon margarine or spread
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard (dry)
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup fat free milk
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (4oz)
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped red pepper

Cook and drain pasta as directed on pasta package.
Melt margarine in large pot and add flour - whisk over low heat to combine.
Add salt, mustard, and pepper and combine. remove from heat and stir in milk gradually.
Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Stir in cheese, remove from heat, add pasta.

Some thoughts from Keri's Kitchen:
1st of all - using half the amount of margarine for the roux does NOT work - it results in a clumpy mess that does not combine with the milk - so just use equal parts (2 tablespoons) flour and "spread". I used Olivo for the heart healthy olive oil it is made with.
Also keep in mind - thickening with a roux is much easier and produces much better results if you are adding a HOT liquid, so heat the milk before adding it to the roux.
If all goes well you get this thick liquid that will coat the back of a spoon like this:

(I also like to throw 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg into cream sauces, that is the brown flecks in the sauce)
Then you can add the cheese and whisk it in:

I will say this is a little thicker or tougher feeling on the whisk than normal cheese sauce - perhaps because it takes a bit more to get low-fat cheese to melt into the sauce:

I omitted the veggies since we were having a yummy green salad with red peppers and roasted acorn squash:

and I reserved a couple tablespoons of the shredded cheese to sprinkle over the top after spreading the mac and cheese into a cooking spray coated square baking dish (since The Hub is a fan of baked mac and cheese)

The Hub says he thinks this is as good as The Barefoot Contessa Mac and Cheese that I have so proudly mastered, and given his Cholesterol situation, and desire to have cheesy macaroni mixtures as often as possible, I have a feeling this is the new house recipe of choice.

A new addition to the ED&BK family

Joining the mix here at Eat, Drink, and Be Keri is my new "Day to Day" section, where I can shamelessly muse regarding the little and big moments that fall outside of the "Eating and Drinking" parts and more in the "Being Keri" realm.
Lucky You!

Pasta with pesto, chicken, and carrots

First of all, I got the BIGGEST b/s chicken breasts I have ever seen at Sunflower this past weekend:

BTW - these are on sale for $1.67lb through tomorrow, October 14th - so stock up! (Especially since one of these goes a LONG way)

For example, I cut one up into chunks, which I tossed in flour seasoned generously with Beau Monde seasoning:

Then I just tossed the pieces into a hot skillet coated with a little canola spray, browned on all sides and added a touch of vermouth to the pan before covering to let the chicken cook through:

While that was cooking I added some thin whole wheat spaghetti to a pot of salted boiling water and let it cook according to package instructions - the last 4 minutes or so I also added a large chopped carrot to the water, so it could get a little tender (but not mushy -YUCK!).

It all got mixed with 3/4 of the pesto I whipped up in my new baby for an easy, inexpensive, (and pretty darn healthy, I might add) dinner.

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Toy!! And Spinach Walnut Pesto

Hello, Lover...

The Hub bought me this little beauty over the weekend, and it is a total workhorse AND my new second favorite kitchen helper (right after Potter- pie, the wonder sous-chef).

I broke it out of the box and went to work immediately, improvising some Spinach Walnut Pesto!

In the bowl of the processor pulse together:

2 packed cups spinach, stemmed

2 tablespoons freeze-dried basil (or you could use 3/4 tablespoon dried)

1/2 cup walnut pieces

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Then stream in 1/4-1/2 cup of olive or other oil (I just used canola) with the processor on until desired consistency is reached.

Later in the week we are having this with some chicken and veggies - but I couldn't resist smearing a little on bread last night to eat with my bowl of beef stew. Yum!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Spicy Orange Chicken with Quinoa Pilaf

It is no secret that we LOVE Cooking Light's Spicy Honey-brushed Chicken recipe around The Treehouse - although I always make it with b/s chicken breasts or breast tenders instead of thighs - it comes out perfect every time.

However, I would hate for The Hub to get bored of it, since I plan to be making that for years to come. So last night I replaced the cider vinegar with the juice of half an orange, and used chunks of chicken breast that I left marinading during the day yesterday in a mixture of the juice of 1/2 orange and 1 teaspoon of curry paste.

It had a nice Orangy undertone to it - The Hub really liked it, although I kind of missed the tangy aftertaste that the vinegar imparts to the recipe.

I served it with Quinoa prepared according to package directions using chicken broth as the liquid, to which I added some chopped broccoli, carrots, and asparagus during the last 6 minutes of cooking time (so they could get tender, but not mushy). I thoroughly rinsed the Quinoa before cooking, and it really does take any trace of funky flavor away from the finished product.

The Hub ate ALL of his without any sideways shifty glances or anything!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Date night at home

The Hub and I had a date to watch Quantum of Solace, our copy of which arrived in the mail last week, on Saturday night. I wanted to do something "date-like" for dinner. So I grabbed a bottle of Middle Sister Rebel Red (yum) and hit the cheese and produce selections at Sunflower Market to give us a nice fruit and cheese board to enjoy with our wine.
I went MUCH heavier on the fruit than I might have in the past, and out only a limited amount of a nice whole wheat cracker - so that The Hub would be forced to eat more fruit (sneaky, aren't I?). I got a REALLY good Derby cheese spiked with Sage, a Gorgonzola, and a Fontina so that I could use leftovers for sammies or something melty to go with soup later in the week.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"Take Some Cholesterol Off Yous" Oatmeal Cookies

1/2 cup canola oil

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 Teaspoon vanilla
2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup raisins

Pre heat oven to 350

Combine oil, sugar, and honey in mixing bowl and beat until blended. Add vanilla and egg Substitute and combine.
In separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Add to wet ingredients and mix well. Mix in raisins. Here is what the dough looks like:

Drop rounded Tablespoons on parchment paper - and flatten gently with fingers (whatever shape you make them is what they will look like when they are baked - they do not flatten out anymore during baking.)

Bake for 10 minutes. Makes about 24 cookies.
I used several different suggested recipes and made my own, based on what The Hub will actually eat, and what seemed best for taste and our dietary goals (namely lowering cholesterol and NOT being horribly calorie-tastic.)
They are actually really tasty, cinnimon-y, chewy, sweet, moist and hearty. Very satisfying. And approved by The Hub too!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hooray for Pasta!

Clearly, I didn't MAKE this bread.

However, notice the whole-grainy-ness of it? Things are changing around The Treehouse. (The Hub did indeed ask, what "that stuff" in the garlic bread was, but he still ate it, so I consider it a victory.)
I served a few slices of the bread with some Smart Balance mashed with minced garlic toasted into it, along side whole wheat spaghetti and marinara sauce. I used Amy's Low Sodium Pasta Sauce and it was a really tasty and, (even better,) really quick dinner. The trick to serving The Hub whole wheat pasta, at least for now, is getting thin varieties - last night I used "thin spaghetti," and cooking it until it is almost a bit overdone, so he isn't as aware of the difference in flavor and texture.
Baby steps.