Monday, September 30, 2013

Pineapple Grilled Pork Chops


This is a very simple but flavorful marinade. I like this as a weeknight dinner. I can marinade the pork chops the night before. The marinade can be prepared in no time. Then for dinner the next night it is a quick easy meal. This is good served with some coconut rice and some fresh steamed veggies. Enjoy!

Pineapple Grilled Pork Chops
Serves Four

Ingredients
1/2 fresh pineapple packed in juice, drain and reserve juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
4 pork chops (one inch in thickness)

Preparation
  1. In a gallon size Ziplock bag combine pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce and garlic. Close bag and shake bag until all ingredients are combined and brown sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add pork chops to bag of marinade. Refrigerate for about 12 hours turning bag occasionally.
  3. Lightly oil the grates on an outdoor grill on medium heat.
  4. Remove pork chops from marinade, discard excess marinade.
  5. Grill appox 5 minutes on each side of the pork chop. Pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F for 15 seconds. After cooking the pork it should "rest" three minutes before being served.
  6. While the pork is cooking place slice pineapple and place slices on a lightly oiled grate. Cook pineapple until heated through and grill marks show....about five minutes.
  7. Top cooked pork with grilled pineapple.
 Notes: 
  • If fresh pineapple packed in juice is unavailable use an 8 ounce can of pineapple slices  packed in juice or a fresh pineapple and 1/2 cup pineapple juice.
  • In 2011 the USDA lowered the final cooking temperature of pork chops from 160 degrees F to 145 degrees F. 
  • A guide to all safe cooking temperatures from the USDA is available at this link: http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pancakes for Breakfast or Dinner?


For me, dinner! Pancakes in the morning just make me want to go take a nap which is not so good considering I have the whole day ahead of me. I remember as a kid, looking forward to breakfast for dinner....it was a real treat! I guess it still is. I got a little nostalgic as I made breakfast for dinner the other night. I really like this pancake recipe. These are very tasty, fluffy buttermilk pancakes which are super simple to make and remind me of Buttermilk Pancakes I had as a kid. Enjoy!

Buttermilk Pancakes
Yield 8 pancakes

Ingredients
3/4 cup fat free milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons melted butter
cooking spray

Preparation
  1.  In a medium mixing bowl mix milk and vinegar, set aside for 5 minutes.
  2.  In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking power, baking soda and salt.
  3. Whisk together the milk mixture with the egg and melted butter.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Stir until ingredients are combined. Do not over mix, the batter should be slightly lumpy.
  5. Let the batter stand about five minutes before making pancakes.
  6. Heat a skillet over medium heat. You know the pan is the right temperature when you put a drop of water on the skillet and it sizzles. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup batter for each pancake on the skillet. Flip the pancakes when they begin to bubble and the bottoms are golden brown. Turn pancakes only once as constant turning makes the pancakes tougher. Cook until second side is brown.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls



I like a good cabbage roll now and then, but I honestly do not have the patience to make them myself. Something about boiling the cabbage and then rolling them without  tearing the leaves....the whole process just frustrates me! Which is funny because, I can spend hours decorating a cake or doing multiple steps on other recipes. Probably dates back to the time one of the kitchens I managed had to make like 400 Cabbage Rolls for a dinner and they were behind schedule....I jumped in to try and help but I felt like I was all thumbs during the process, ripping more than I made. I fired myself from the task and got someone else to help and the meal went out without a hitch but I still refuse to make cabbage rolls. My solution: A deconstructed cabbage roll! All the flavor with less work. Enjoy!

Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 pound 93/7 ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium head of cabbage, chopped
1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes with chilies
1 cup low sodium beef broth
1 can (8 ounces) of tomato sauce (I use my homemade marinara sauce listed on the blog instead of a can)
2 cups cooked brown rice

Preparation
  1. In a dutch oven, over medium heat cook the ground beef, onion and green pepper until the meat is fully cooked and no longer pink. Drain.
  2. Stir in the chopped cabbage, tomatoes, broth and sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover for about 25 minutes, until the cabbage is tender. Stir occasionally.
  3. Stir in the rice and cook until the rice is heated completely.
Note:
  • For the picture I used Chinese Cabbage. Green Cabbage, Napa Cabbage and Chinese Cabbage all work well. I just happened to have Chinese Cabbage in my CSA vegetable box this week.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Meatless Dinner? Try Chickpea Burgers!



When I started the Yipson Foods school lunch program my goal was to offer one vegetarian meal and one meal with meat per day. I found it to be quite a challenge coming up with thirty different vegetarian meals. When I started in food service most restaurants I worked for offered "vegetarian upon request". Usually, the vegetarian was some sort of  pasta dish like Primavera. Needless to say, I had a lot to learn about vegetarian meals. I hired a Chef de Cuisine who was a vegetarian and began the process of learning about vegetarian meals. The fun part of learning in food service is getting to try new foods! Along with the children in some of our test groups I enjoyed trying all sorts of vegetarian foods. The Chic Pea Burgers by far are one of my favorites. Also, if you do not want it on a bun it tastes great on a salad or wrapped in lettuce. Enjoy!

Chick Pea Burgers
Makes 4 burgers

Ingredients
1/2 pound potato
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 can (15.5 oz) chick peas, drained, rinsed with 1/4 cup of the can set aside
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 egg whites, lightly beaten


Preparation
  1. In a small sauce pan boil potato until the potato is soft and easily pierced with a fork. Cool potato, remove skin and chop potato in small pieces. Place chopped potato in a large bowl. 
  2. Add olive oil, minced garlic and can of chic peas not including the 1/4 cup that was set aside. Mash with a potato masher until well combined.
  3. Stir in the parsley, salt, pepper, lemon, paprika, eggs and 1/4 cup of the chickpeas to the potato mixture.
  4. Shape the mixture into four patties.
  5. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet pan over medium heat.
  6. Cook approx. 5 minutes on each side. Be careful when flipping. Should be golden in color and reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.




Monday, September 23, 2013

Autumn is in the Air! Apple Crisp Recipe




Fall is in the air so, it felt like a great time to make Apple Crisp. I am still using up the Red Delicious Apples from my apple picking trip. I found an old Apple Crisp recipe. I decided to try and make it a little healthier by cutting some sugar by using a sweeter apple and adding in some flax seed. Enjoy!

Apple Crisp
Makes one  9x13 pan

Ingredients
10 cups Red Delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced (approx. 10 apples)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup flax seed (optional)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
cooking spray

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare a 9x13 by lightly greasing the pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, combine sliced apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Place apple mixture into pan.
  4. In a large bowl, combine oats, flax seed, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and butter.
  5. Sprinkle evenly over apple mixture.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.



Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sweet and Sour Meatballs



This recipe is a fun, healthy twist on Sweet and Sour Chicken. We tried this recipe in the Yipson Foods school lunch program. I was hesitant in trying a sweet and sour dish but after some urging from the Chef I relented and allowed it on the menu. What a success! It was a huge hit. The majority of the kids ordered it and they ate it....not too much left on the plates which always made me happy. Enjoy!

Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 large yellow onion, chopped in a large dice
2 large carrots, chopped in a large dice
1 medium green pepper, chopped in a large dice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 8 oz can of tomato sauce (I used fresh made marinara instead, recipe listed in sauces)
14  oz low sodium chicken stock
3/4 of a fresh peeled and cored pineapple, packed in water, chopped into bite size chunks
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1 slice of wheat bread diced into small pieces
1/2 cup shredded zucchinni
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 pound lean ground turkey
2 cups Brown Rice, Cooked without salt or fat

Preparation
  1. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onions, carrots and green peppers. Saute until tender, about five minutes.
  2. Add tomato sauce, stock, pineapple with water it was packed with, brown sugar, vinegar and ketchup. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for ten minutes.
  3. While the sauce is simmering prepare the meatballs. In a large bowl combine egg, milk, bread, zucchinni, salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Add in ground turkey. Mix well.
  4. Shape the mixture into two inch meatballs. Carefully add to the sweet and sour sauce.
  5. Cover the dutch oven and simmer for 20 minutes or until the turkey meatballs are 165 degrees F, fully cooked.
  6. Leave uncovered and increase heat to medium high and bring to a slow boil, stir carefully folding the sauce over the meatballs. Allowing the sauce to thicken a little.
  7. Serve over brown rice.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chicken with a Mushroom, Pearl Onion and Tarragon Sauce



I originally found this recipe in a Cooking Light magazine. The first time I made this it was good but I felt it was a little lacking. I wanted some more sauce, more veggies and thought it would be great over some egg noodles. I remade this recipe and I am very happy with the results.
Enjoy!

Chicken with a Mushroom, Pearl Onion and Tarragon Sauce
 Serves 4

Ingredients 

2 cups unsalted chicken stock
3/4 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces 
3/4 celery stalk, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut in quarters
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2  pounds thin sliced chicken breast
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided 
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
2 teaspoons butter, divided
1 8 oz packs bella mushrooms, quartered
3/4 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed and drained
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
8 oz wide egg noodles, cooked without salt or fat

 Preparation
  1. In a small saucepan bring chicken stock, carrot, celery, onion, bay leaf and garlic to a boil. 
  2. Cook 6 minutes or until reduced to 1 1/4 cups. Strain and keep the liquid from the stock mixture. Discard the veggies and seasonings.
  3. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish; dredge chicken in flour. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and 1 teaspoon butter to pan; swirl the pan until butter melts. 
  4. Add half the chicken to the pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove the chicken from the pan; keep chicken warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon butter, and chicken.
  5. Return the skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onions; cook approx. 7 minutes or until browned, stir occasionally. 
  6. Add the reserved stock mixture; bring to a boil, scraping the pan to remove any browned bits of chicken or veggies. 
  7. Combine 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch in a small bowl to create a slurry. 
  8. Stir the slurry into the boiling stock mixture; cook 2 minutes to thicken sauce and cook the starchy taste away. 
  9. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and tarragon. 
  10. Place noodles on plate, then place chicken over noodles, spoon sauce over chicken.
Note: To save money you can buy regular boneless skinless chicken breasts and slice them in half horizontally.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Few Housekeeping Notes From the Yipson Foods Recipe Blog

Hi Everyone!

I hope that you are enjoying my blog. I enjoy sharing my recipes and love of healthy cooking with you. If you like the Yipson Foods Recipe Blog please, please, please like my Facebook Page or add me to Google+ .
I find myself spending a lot of time promoting the blog on Quora, BlogHer, Patch, Pintrest, Flickr, etc. I would like to devote more time developing recipes and less time promoting! If you like Yipson Foods on Facebook or Google+ you will just receive a post when I publish a new article.....I promise I will not send you a bunch of spam or garbage on either site. There are links to Google+ and Facebook on this page.

Also, as you may have noticed I have been putting links to product suggestions on Amazon.com. I do not receive any money from any product manufacturer to post these links. This is my way to illustrate products to use in cooking recipes I post. I do however, receive a very small commission from Amazon.com if someone clicks the link and places an order through Amazon.com. I am not given any of your information when you order like I say I just receive a small commission. I was posting the links then I realized I could receive a commission if I signed up to the Amazon Associates program so, I did. I hope to use the money I make to offer some contests on my Facebook page.

 Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.
 Suzanne

Asian Style Eggplant with Garlic Sauce




One of my favorite dishes for Chinese take out is Eggplant with Garlic sauce. I have been craving it lately so I decided I needed to make some. One problem. I was having trouble finding Chinese Eggplant in the grocery store. I kept looking and looking but no luck. One day Japanese Eggplant appeared at the grocery store and I was so excited....I could finally make Eggplant with Garlic Sauce! As I looked through the Japanese Eggplant my heart sank....it looked bad. It was bruised and old looking plus, it was $3.99 a pound. I decided I had enough. I bought regular globe eggplant at $1.99 a pound and decided to make it work.
The challenge with using regular eggplant versus Chinese or Japanese eggplant is that the skin on the globe eggplant is a tad thicker and the eggplant is a little more bitter. When making this recipe make sure that the eggplant is cooked throughly so the skin is not chewy but do not cook it so much that it turns to mush.
I was super happy with the results I felt like I was eating Eggplant with Garlic sauce from one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in Hoboken!
Enjoy!

Asian Style Eggplant with Garlic Sauce
Serves 3

Ingredients:
1 pound eggplant
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, roughly diced
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and minced (I use Gourmet Garden Ginger Paste see link below)
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce (for mild, for medium heat add 2 teaspoons, for spicy add one tablespoon)
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/3 cup low sodium vegetable broth
2 teaspoons corn starch
2 tablespoons water
1 green onion, sliced
sesame oil

Preparation:
  1. Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Cut rounds into quarters.
  2. Heat oil in wok over medium high heat. Cook and stir the eggplant about 6-8 minutes... Until eggplant and skin is soft.
  3. Remove eggplant from heat and toss in a medium bowl with rice wine vinegar. Set aside.
  4. Combine garlic, ginger, sriracha, soy sauce, brown sugar and vegetable broth. Heat the sauce in the wok over medium high heat. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Cook sauce uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the eggplant and vinegar mixture to the sauce.
  6. Gently fold the sauce over the eggplant.
  7. Combine the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl.
  8. After the eggplant is heated thoroughly add the cornstarch mixture and stir constantly until thickened. Cook an additional 2 minutes this helps to remove the cornstarch taste.
  9. Serve over rice.
  10. Garnish with sliced green onion and a drizzle of sesame oil.


Link for Ginger Paste:
http://na.gourmetgarden.com/us/products/ginger
This is not to be confused with Ginger Paste found in the Asian section of the grocery store. This is found usually in a cooler in the produce section.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cinnamon Apple Chips


With thirty apples left from apple picking I would love to just bake a bunch of apple pies, apple crisps, apple cobbler and other apple desserts. The unfortunate thing about baking all of that would be wanting to eat everything I made! I decided to try something new. I baked apple chips. I think I just found my go to snack. It is a nice mix of crunchy and sweet. Not only do they taste great they are healthy and so easy to make.
Enjoy!

Cinnamon Apple Chips

Ingredients
3 fresh apples, sliced 1/8 inch thin, seeds removed (I used red delicious)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
  2. Place thinly sliced apples on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
  3. Mix the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle lightly on the sliced apples
  4. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes, flip apples over, bake an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes
  5. Turn heat off oven and keep apples in oven until oven cools down
Notes:
  • I just sliced these thinly with a knife but a Mandolin works much better. I used these in many commercial kitchens and loved them and now they have become reasonably priced so I may just need to add one to my kitchen. I put a link to Amazon below for a Mandolin.
  •  I used an apple corer on some but think the sliced ones just looked better.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Apple Season = German Apple Cake



It's apple season! We went apple picking over the weekend....what a fun family activity. I used the website http://www.pickyourown.org to find a local farm. It is a great website that offers lots of information and a pretty current list of Pick Your Own farms.

Only issue....totally overloaded with apples. Time to bake!

I made a German Apple Cake. I know cake isn't the healthiest food but, I was able to lower some of the fat and calories from the original recipe. When making the cake I cut back on the oil and sugar, added some more apples and I ended up just dusting it with confectioners sugar instead of adding a traditional cream cheese frosting. The cake ended up awesome. There is a slight sugary crunch on the outside with a moist and tasty apple cake inside. Wow!

German Apple Cake
Makes One Bundt cake

Ingredients
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 1/2 cups peeled, cored and diced apples (I used Red Delicious)
Cooking Spray
Confectioners Sugar


Preparation
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl beat the eggs and oil with an electric mixer until creamy. 
  3. Add in and sugar and vanilla beat until well blended.
  4. Combine cinnamon, salt, flour and baking soda in a separate bowl. Slowly add into the egg mixture and mix until combined. The batter will be very thick.
  5. Mix apples in by hand.
  6. Spread batter into a Bundt pan coated with cooking spray.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes or until the cake tests done. 
  8. Let cool slightly then remove from pan, dust with confectioners sugar.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Baked Ziti with Spinach....that kids like!



I do not like to sneak veggies into kids food. I like to take nutrient dense veggies that kids may not particularly care for and use them in a recipe in hopes they may gain a new appreciation for the veggie.

 I have gone through most of my life hating spinach but wanting to like spinach. As a kid, I wanted to like spinach because of course, it made you stronger...according to Popeye cartoons. As an adult I have wanted to like spinach because it is full of calcium, vitamins, fiber and lots of good thing for my body.

Many years ago I began a quest to find spinach I like. I have tried spinach so many ways....thanks to the many chefs I have worked with. I still do not like spinach as a stand alone vegetable but I found I like in mixed in with other foods.

With this in mind I set out to use spinach in many of the recipes I served to the children through the school lunch program, Yipson Foods. This Baked Ziti recipe proved that yes, kids will eat spinach. When we debut this on our menu approximately half the orders for the day were for Baked Ziti. We noticed as we were cleaning out the lunch bags for the day that the kids ate all or almost all of the Baked Ziti (including the spinach!). More importantly, the next time we served Baked Ziti on the menu over eighty percent of the kids ordered the Baked Ziti and again, they actually ate it!

This became one of our most requested recipes by parents. Enjoy!

Baked Ziti
Yield 6

Ingredients


8 oz. uncooked whole wheat ziti pasta
8 oz container sliced mushrooms, chopped (I use baby bella)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
9 oz package of spinach leaves
1 cup light ricotta cheese
2 cups Marinara Sauce, heated (My recipe is posted on the blog)
1 cup part skim shredded mozzarella
grated Parmesan, for topping
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 375ยบ.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
3.  Meanwhile, coat a large skillet with olive oil and bring it to medium heat.
4.  Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes.
5.  Add mushrooms and garlic, and cook for another 5 minutes, until mushrooms are soft.
6.  Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.
7.  Remove skillet from heat and stir in ricotta cheese.
8.  Add mixture to the bowl with the cooked pasta, then add the marinara sauce and ¾ cup mozzarella. Stir well.
9. Transfer the mixture to an 8×8 baking pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Top with remaining mozzarella, plus some grated Parmesan.
10. Bake until hot and bubbly, 15-20 minutes.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Red Curry Shrimp over Rice Noodles



As I have said before, I try to eat seafood once a week. This week I decided to try a new shrimp dish. Wow, it was simple to make and super tasty. If you are looking for a quick but flavorful meal look no further! This dish took less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

Red Curry Shrimp over Rice Noodles
 Serves 4

Ingredients
1 can (14 oz) Lite Coconut Milk
2 tablespoons Red Curry Paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 pound 26/30 peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 pound snap peas, trimmed
1 red pepper, sliced
1/4 cup basil
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Wide Rice Noodles

Preparation
  1. Prepare rice noodles as directed on package omitting any fat or salt.
  2. While the noodles are cooking. In a large skillet over medium heat bring the coconut milk to a simmer
  3. Whisk the red curry paste and brown sugar into the coconut milk, until well blended
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in shrimp and vegetables. Cover and cook for approx. 5 minutes, until shrimp are pink and vegetables are crisp tender.
  6. Stir in basil and fish sauce. Cook an additional minute.
  7. Serve over rice noodles.
Notes:
  • To save time buy shrimp already peeled and deveined
  • When making this stay with larger shrimp like 26/30's or 21/25's.
    • Shrimp numbers mean the approx. shrimp per pound. For example, a 26/30 would mean that there are approx. 26-30 shrimp per pound.
  • If you use smaller shrimp I would put the veggies in first then after a minute or two then put the shrimp in so they do not overcook and become rubbery.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Out of this World" Sausage and Spinach Lasagna



When I first made this lasagna some children turned their noses up at this "non traditional" lasagna. One of my goals with the Yipson Foods school lunch program was to give children a chance to experience some different and more healthy foods. It took a little coaxing to get some children to try a bite of the lasagna. I remember one six year old in particular did not want to try this dish....he wanted "real lasagna." I promised him I would make "real lasagna" one day but I really wanted him to try one bite of this lasagna. The boy relented and tried one bite. After he finished his bite he gave me two thumbs up. I said "So, the lasagna is good?" the boy said "No, it's out of this world!"

Sausage and Spinach Lasagna
Ingredients
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fat free milk
1 cup unsalted chicken stock
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 bay leaf
dash of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 (8 oz) package fresh spinach
1/2 pound turkey or chicken sweet Italian sausage links
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 whole wheat lasagna noodles (uncooked)
1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
1 ounce shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
1 ounce shredded fresh Mozzarella cheese
Cooking Spray

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat mix flour, milk, stock, oil and bay leaf. Cook 8-10 minutes stirring constantly with a whisk, until thick and bubbly.
  3. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Spread 1 cup of the white sauce in the bottom of an 11"x7"or 12"x8" ceramic or glass baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  5. Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of water to the pan. Cook 2-4 minutes until spinach wilts. Drain spinach and press to remove excess water. Set spinach aside.
  6. Increase heat to medium high and heat the large skillet. Remove the casing from sausage. Add sausage to pan. Stir the sausage to crumble. Cook until sausage is browned and completely cooked.  Remove sausage from pan. Set aside.
  7. Add garlic and shallots to pan. Saute 2 minutes.
  8. Stir in remaining milk mixture, spinach and cooked sausage. Remove pan from heat.
  9. Place two noodles side by side on milk mixture in baking dish. Top with 1/2 cup ricotta cheese and 1/3 of the spinach mixture. Repeat two times.
  10. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  11. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray.
  12. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove foil.
  13. Preheat broiler to high.
  14. Place lasagna under broil and broil 4-6 minutes until cheese is golden brown.
  15. Let stand 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Coconut Curry Chicken "Lightened Up"


This recipe took me a little while to develop. I wanted an authentic tasting Coconut Curry Chicken that had less fat and calories than the original. The challenge with a "lighter" recipe was getting the sauce correct. The sauce was soupy the first time I tried this....the second time I made this it was awesome!

Since there are not a lot of Indian restaurants close by I can still enjoy one of my favorite dishes without all the fat and calories!

When I made this dish I served the Coconut Curry Chicken with a simple spiced rice.

Enjoy!

 Coconut Curry Chicken

Ingredients
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 onion, sliced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk
1 (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 pound potatoes cut into 1/2 inch chunks (I used red potatoes)
3 tablespoons sugar

Preparation
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper
  2. In a dutch oven or a 6 quart stock pot heat oil mixed with curry powder over medium high heat for two minutes...stir constantly.
  3. Stir in onions and garlic. Heat one minute more.
  4. Add chicken. Toss to coat with curry mixture. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for approx. 10 more minutes, until chicken is fully cooked.
  5. Add coconut milk, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, potatoes and sugar. Stir to combine.
  6. Cook on medium, uncovered for 40-50 minutes until potatoes are fork tender and sauce is thickened. Stir often while cooking on the stove top.






Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Quick and Easy Cajun Cod with a Tomatillo Salsa






Okay....Okay....I know what you are thinking....this dish seems difficult. It is not. This is super easy to make and full of flavor!

I had found a recipe in an old cookbook for Sea Bass with a Tomatillo Salsa. The recipe sounded interesting. Basically, you make this fruit salsa and you place it on top of the fish and bake. As I was making the dish I kept thinking I should take the fish and add some seasoning or grill it or something and serve the salsa right over the cooked fish....the salsa tasted amazing without cooking it but, I decided to follow the recipe. Next time,  I will follow my instinct. The salsa lost it's amazing flavor and the fish did not really gain any of the fruit flavor.

I tried the recipe again. This time I used cod....because Sea Bass is very expensive. I put some Cajun seasoning on the cod and cooked it on the stove top. I made the salsa and just topped the cooked fish with the salsa....Much better this time!
This is now a recipe I can be proud to share.

Cajun Cod with a Tomatillo Salsa

Ingredients
4 (6 oz) cod filets
4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 cup chopped pineapple (about 1/3 of a pineapple)
1/2 cup chopped peaches or nectarines (about 1/2 a piece of fruit)
1/2 cup chopped tomatillos (about 2 medium)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 fresh serrano chili pepper seeded and chopped
 1 tablespoon finely shredded lime peel
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons honey

Preparation
1. Combine pineapple, peaches or nectarines, tomatillos, cilantro, red onion, chili pepper, lime peel, lime juice and honey. Set aside.
2. Season each piece of fish with one teaspoon Cajun seasoning. If you like spicier add a little more!
3.Heat a large skillet or griddle pan coated with cooking spray over medium high heat. Add fish. Saute 5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
4. Serve fish topped with salsa.

Notes
  • Use caution when cutting the chili pepper. Wear gloves the chili peppers can burn or sting skin if cut without gloves. Do not touch eyes or face during or after cutting chili peppers.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Healthy Treats for Your Pup!




I like to give my pup treats. I am not a fan of some of the byproducts in the more affordable doggie treats. My pup  could care less if there were byproducts, if the treat was healthy,  if the treat was all natural, where the treat was manufactured....all my pup cares about is getting a treat!

I make my dog Sweet Potato Jerky!

I just purchased two sweet potatoes weighing 1.59 total pounds. At 79 cents a pound the total for the sweet potatoes was $1.26.

The potatoes yielded 7 oz of treats. To buy 7 oz of Sweet Potato Jerky treats at a store would cost between $7.00 - $8.00

This is a super easy recipe so you can give your dog a very affordable and healthy doggie treat!

Sweet Potato Jerky for Dogs

Ingredients
Sweet Potato
Parchment Paper

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Wash sweet potato. Slice the potato in half lengthwise. Then slice each half lengthwise. Slice the quarters into wedge shapes about 1/8"-1/4" thick.
  3. Place the sweet potatoes on the prepared pan and bake for three hours turning over half way through.  The potatoes should appear dry and shriveled. 
  4. Let cool and then let your pup ENJOY!
Notes:
  • Store in refrigerator for up to three weeks.
  • If you make extra you can freeze them for up to three months. 
  • To achieve evenly cooked chicken sweet potatoes I suggest baking them on a jelly roll pan fitted with a wire rack. I have put a link from Amazon below to show what I am suggesting. 
  • To keep my pup occupied I like to place a couple pieces of Sweet Potato Jerky in a Kong ball


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

AMAZING Peanut Butter Cookies! (p.s. they are gluten-free and easy to make)


I like baked goods! I really like cookies!!
Needless to say, the gluten free lifestyle usually does not work so well for me.
When I saw this recipe I of course was intrigued. I had never baked peanut butter cookies without flour before.
I must say these were so simple to make but more importantly....
The results were AMAZING!
These cookies are soft, flaky and taste actually better than peanut butter cookies with flour. The cookies are also only about 100 calories each vs a traditional homemade peanut butter cookie which is 150 calories or more each....only one problem...they are slightly addictive.
Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies
Yield 2 dozen

Ingredients
1 cup peanut butter ( I used Skippy Natural)
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

approx 1/4 cup extra white sugar in a small bowl

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl combine peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda and vanilla. Stir by hand until completely blended.
  3. Roll dough into one inch balls then place ball into small bowl and coat with sugar.
  4. Place ball on greased cookie sheet and make a criss-cross pattern with a fork pressing down gently
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes. Allow cookies to cook slightly on cookie sheet before transferring over to a cooling rack.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Chicken Fried Rice






I like to have fried rice as an entree for dinner!  When I lived in the city there were so many great Chinese restaurants that delivered...I was able to enjoy Chinese food quite often....now it seems like I make my own Chinese food. This is probably the healthier option, anyways. I do miss the convenience but I am enjoying tweaking recipes to my tastes! This recipe has a fair amount of chicken and veggies to make it a nice one dish meal. Enjoy!


Chicken Fried Rice
Yield 4 Servings

Ingredients
1/2 cup Egg Beaters (or two large eggs)
Cooking Spray
2 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound thinly sliced chicken breast
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 onion chopped
2 cups cold brown rice, packed
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 cup frozen green peas, defrosted
3/4 cup matchstick carrots
2 to 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

Preparation
  1. Coat large skillet with cooking spray. Heat pan over medium low heat. Add Egg Beaters and cook flat for about 2-3 minutes until fully cooked. Remove eggs from pan slice eggs in small strips.
  2. In the same large skillet or wok heat 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium heat. Sprinkle salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on chicken. Place in skillet and cook until completely cooked. Remove from skillet, set aside.
  3. Add one tablespoon canola oil in the same large skillet or wok heat oil over medium heat. Add one tablespoon garlic saute 30 seconds, add onions, saute until soft, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add rice, chicken, peas, carrots, 3/4 teaspoon black pepper and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Stir all ingredients together until heated thoroughly. Taste and add more soy sauce if necessary. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for an additional five minutes stirring occasionally.
Notes:
  • If you have to make rice for this recipe quick cool it in the freezer in a shallow dish. Hot rice does not work well in this recipe.
  • Feel free to add other veggies or instead of chicken you could add sliced pork or even more veggies!
  • I like to add the matchstick carrots for a little crunch and texture but feel free to use  frozen peas and carrots mix instead .
  • If you like garlicky rice use two tablespoons garlic.
  • When I make this I make the egg in a large skillet and I make the chicken and stir fry in a wok.