Saturday, December 26, 2009

Green Bean and Fennel Salad

We had a pretty delicious Christmas dinner last night: baked ham, sweet potatoes, and this delicate and crunchy green bean salad. With it's fresh ingredients and simple citrus dressing, this would be perfect for an outdoor summer lunch dish.

Green Bean and Fennel Salad
Serves 8-10

1/2 lb fresh green beans, cleaned and trimmed
2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb (one large)
3/4 cup julienne-cut red bell pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1.5 tablespoon light olive oil
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoon minced fennel leaves

Wash the beans. Trim the ends, remove the strings and cut the beans in half. Place the beans in a vegetable steamer and place over boiling water. Cover and steam for 5 minutes or until tender-crisp. Drain beans and plunge into cold water. Drain again.

Combine beans, fennel bulb, and bell pepper in a bowl; toss gently and set aside. Combine lemon juice and next 5 ingredients in a bowl; stir well. Pour over vegetables; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with fennel leaves. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Tip: extra virgin olive oil is too heavy a flavor for this dish. When you julienne the red pepper try to keep them about the same size as the green beans. Use fresh lemon juice only! You may want to add a bit of grated lemon rind to taste.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Marble Man and I found ourselves way ahead of the curve this year:

lists have been checked, and double-checked
gifts are wrapped and mailed
the tree is up

Lots of time left over for baking cookies. Marble Man has so many favorites, that I asked him to narrow his choices to two types.

His pick for this year:

Vera's Checkerboard Cookies

Chocolate Crinkles

Chocolate Crinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
makes 52 cookies

2 C plus 2 T all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C butter, room temperature
1+3/4 C granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 squares unsweetened baker's chocolate (1 ounce per square), melted
1/2 C confectioners' sugar

Mix flour baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer until fluffy.

Beat in eggs, one at a time until mixture is pale yellow, then vanilla and chocolate until blended.

Gradually add flour mixture, mixing just to blend. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.

Lightly grease cookie sheets. Shape heaping teaspoonfuls of dough into 1.25 inch balls and roll in confectioners' sugar. Place on cookie sheets 1.5 inches apart.

Bake about 12 minutes until tops are puffed and cracked. DON'T overbake! Cookies are quite soft when hot but firm and chewy when cool. Remove to rack to cool.

Per cookie:
80 calories
1 gram protein
12 grams carbs
3 grams fat
20 mgs cholesterol

Enjoy! (Just don't worry about that last part there. ;)

And while you toss some treats together for your family, here's a little Holiday fun to keep you company: Tennessee Ernie Ford singing for a group of children.

His son (sitting next to him) is so into the song that he has to really work to keep from cracking up.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

copyright 2009 Shibori Girl

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bratwurst and Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage

This winter, Marble Man and I signed up for a fresh-meat-and-eggs co-op through Fickle Creek Farm, one of the vendors at our local Farmers Market. The meats have been incredibly delicious, and the eggs colorful - brown, blue, green... and also delicious. Every two weeks, we head to the market to pick up our assortment of sausages, roasts, chops, and chickens. This week's sausages were bratwursts, and I think they were the best I've ever had.

I cooked them in beer with lots of onions, and a side dish of sweet and sour red cabbage. *Slurp* So good!

serves 6

6 large bratwurst
1 C sliced onions
1 C beer

Prick each sausage before adding to a large skillet. Pour in enough water to cover the sausages with 1/2 an inch of water. Partially cover the pan and simmer until the water has evaporated. Be sure not to let the water boil - this will cause the bratwursts to burst. Uncover and cook the sausages in the small amount of fat remaining in the pan to brown. Add onions and saute until translucent. Pour in the 1 C of beer and simmer another 5 minutes. Serve with spicy mustard on the side.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Serves 6

1 head red cabbage, shredded
2 Granny Smith apples, cut in small wedges
4 slices bacon, diced and fried
3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. vinegar plus same amount sweet pickle juice
Salt and pepper

Fry bacon. Leave fat and bacon in skillet and add remaining ingredients. Cover tightly and get it hot, then turn down heat and cook slowly until tender. May be fixed ahead of time and reheated. This would make a wonderful Christmas Eve dish.


And I want to thank everyone who weighed in on my new image signatures. I will see what I can do to make them less intrusive.

copyright 2009 Shibori Girl

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bourbon Glazed Pork and Easy Corn Casserole

For this week's post, I've got a twofer. Both recipes are easy, and the pork's savory flavor complements the slightly sweet aspect of the corn casserole. The corn casserole can be made a day ahead to make things even easier.

Bourbon-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Serves 6

Preheat oven 425 degrees

1/4 cup Kentucky Bourbon (plus a little for the cook. ;) )
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
dash hot sauce
2 pork tenderloins, about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds

In blender or food processor, combine bourbon, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, mustard, ginger, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and oil. Pulse until smooth. Remove tenderloins from wrapper and tie together into a roast. Place tenderloin and marinade in a ziploc bag and refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Place tenderloin on a rack in baking pan and roast for 25-35 minutes per pound or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

If you want to grill the meat: cook 4 inches from a hot charcoal fire for 15 to 25 minutes or until the pork has reached 165° internally and is no longer pink in the center. Baste occasionally while cooking.

Slice in 1/2-inch thick slices to serve.
Easy Corn Casserole
Serves 8
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1/4 C egg substitute
1/4 C canola oil
1 small (8-3/4 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 small (8-3/4 oz) can creamed corn
1 8-1/2 oz package corn muffin mix
1 C plain non-fat yogurt

Combine all ingredients and stir well to combine. Pour into an 8" square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake 45 minutes until set.


copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pear Cobbler

Now that our kitchen is nearly half painted, I've been able to breathe a little and get down to some cool-weather cooking. As a treat for us, I made an old favorite this week. The pears at the market were rock hard when I brought them home, but a day and a half in a bag with a banana did the trick!

Pear Cobbler
Serves 6
Preheat oven to 400 degrees

6 ripe pears: peeled, cored, and sliced
3 T brown sugar, packed
1 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger

1/3 C flour
3 T chopped walnuts
1-1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 C milk
vegetable oil

Combine filling ingredients in a bowl, stirring to coat the pears with the seasonings. Transfer to a casserole dish.

In small bowl, combine the first 4 crust ingredients. Stir in milk and enough oil to moisten. Drop by teaspoonfuls on top of pears. Bake, uncovered, 25 minutes or until browned.

Each serving: 200 calories

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Vanilla Ricotta Creme

Here's a nice easy dessert that I found through the South Beach Diet cookbook for Ricotta Creme dessert. I'll list the basic recipe, but you can add all sorts of flavorings to make it a special treat for any mood.

Vanilla Ricotta Creme Dessert
Serves 2

1 C part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 packages sugar substitute (I use splenda)

With a blender, whiz up the ingredients until the cheese is nice and smooth - I've found an immersion blender works great for this.

Pour mixture into individual serving cups and refrigerate until ready to eat.


Orange (pictured): add 1 T orange liqueur, or a bit of orange zest
Almond: add 1/2 tsp almond extract and reduce vanilla extract to 1/4 tsp. Top with toasted slivered almonds.
Mocha: add 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder. Just before serving, top with a dash of espresso powder and 1 tsp mini chocolate chips.
Lime Zest: add 1/2 tsp grated lime zest
Peanut Butter and Chocolate: add 2 T peanut butter and 1 tsp cocoa powder, then blend.
Pumpkin: Add 2 T canned pumpkin puree and 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice. Top with a tsp of whipped cream.
Experiment with flavors on your own, then let me know what you did so I can try them too!
The texture of this recipe is very loose. If you want it to be more like a pudding, mix in a beaten egg, spray an oven-safe dish and bake until a knife comes out clean. Equally as yummy!

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, October 4, 2009


When Marble Man and I visited England many years ago, we fell in love with teatime. No matter where we went, one of us asked, "Is it time for tea yet?". Mostly it was the scones that had us hooked. When you get a basket of those delectable pastries in Engand, they aren't shaped like a triangle like the way they are in this country, but small and round like our biscuits. And they are very moist and tender.

When I got back home, I set about finding a really good scone recipe. The one I found has a surprise ingredient (plain yogurt), which adds a little "tang" to the final result, as well as tremendous moisture and tenderness. Purists may say it's not a scone, but a flavorful "something else", but we love 'em anyway. Marble Man does a little happy dance when he smells a batch of these scones baking in the oven!

**Makes 8 large, or 13 biscuit-sized
Preheat oven to 375

3 C flour
3 T sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 C cold butter, cut up
1-1/2 C plain nonfat yogurt

Lightly butter a baking sheet. Mix flour, sugar, powder, soda, and salt in a bowl Add butter, cutting in with a pastry blender, until mixture looks like coarse meal. Add yogurt, stirring until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Gather into a ball.

Lightly flour board and knead dough just until smooth. Pat dough into an 8" circle. Cut into 8 wedges and place 2" apart on baking sheet.

Bake until lightly browned, 18-20 minutes.
** I've found that making 8 wedges means these scones are HUGE and equal about a day's worth of bread all at once. I roll the dough out to about 1" thick and use a biscuit cutter. That way I get 12 scones out of the recipe.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

Fall is almost upon us, and that means the first pot of my favorite soup is simmering on the stove. God, the color, the smell, the texture... what's not to love about this fabulous recipe?

Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 4

1.5 T freshly grated ginger root
1/2 C chopped onion
3 T butter
4 C peeled, seeded butternut squash (about 1.5 pounds)
2 C chicken broth
1.5 C water
3 cloves garlic
2 T fresh lime juice to taste
lime slices for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place squash in a pan and roast for 30 minutes. Take it out of the oven, prick it several times with a knife, turn it, and roast for another 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Peel, and cut into large pieces.

In large saucepan, cook onion and ginger in butter over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened.

Add squash, broth, water, and garlic. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 20 minutes until squash is soft. Puree and add lime juice. Serve hot or at room temperature. Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Gooood!

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins

muffin glamour shot

Who hasn't let a bunch of bananas get so so ripe that they practically mash themselves when you pick them up? Before leaving for vacation, I put a pretty ripe bunch in the fridge so I wouldn't have to come home to a puddle on the kitchen counter. When we got home they were intact, though mighty soft. For breakfast I made a batch of these muffins and we ripped through them so fast that I made another batch this week!

Just a note: these banana muffins taste best when the bananas used are good and black, but not to the alcohol stage.

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins
serves 12
preheat oven to 400 degrees

1-3/4 C all purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten
1/3 C vegetable oil
1/2 C skim milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 C mashed banana (about 3 bananas)

1/2 C chopped walnuts
2 oz miniature chocolate chips

Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray or line with papers.

In large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk together. Make a well in the center and set aside.

In small bowl, combine the wet ingredients well and pour all at once into the center of the dry ingredients. Mix quickly with as little stirring as possible. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.

Divide the batter evenly in the muffin tin and bake 20-25 minutes until golden. Check with a toothpick for doneness. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes.

Mmmmm... yummy!

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Spices From Penzey's

I've barely come up for air this week and, alas, have no new recipe to post today. So, I thought I'd share my experience with Penzey's Spice company. How many times have you bought a bottle of herbs or spices at the supermarket? Have you ever wondered how long the bottle has sat on the store shelf? Or how about at the warehouse? Are you really getting what you paid for?

A while ago, Marble Man and I were invited to dinner at a friend's house, where she served a sumptuous meal. She finished up with an apple galette which was incredibly delicious. I was trying to figure out which spices she added to the apples, and got as far as cinnamon. When I asked her what else she added, she insisted it was only cinnamon, and then produced the bottle for me to sniff. Oh, the smell! Rich cinnamon with flowery overtones, and a hint of allspice. This was NOT your generic, McCormick's supermarket cinnamon. She told me that at Penzey's, they bottle the spices up fresh and ship them out, so you get a high-quality product.

She gave me an extra catalog, which I pored over at home. The catalog was very well organized and peppered throughout were recipes and ideas for how to use the products they offer. I proceeded to order spices the way I order beads: some of this, some of that, 4 of these, 2 of those... and before I knew it, I'd spent over $60! When the box arrived, the contents were very carefully wrapped. And when I opened the bottles, they were filled TO THE TOP.

I picked out 4 types of cinnamon, and yes they ARE all very different, as well as herbs and spice blends. The parsley smelled like it had just been picked and dried the week before. And the blends were perfect for use in meats and stews. I threw out a bunch of store-bought bottles from my cabinet that were absolutely dead.

I hope you'll give Penzey's a shot - even with the shipping cost, the prices were competitive with supermarket brands. I will never buy seasonings from the store again, unless I find myself in a desperate situation.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Spicy Blue Cheeseburgers

Marble Man and I have been trying to pinch pennies and lose weight by concentrating on fish and beans as our main source of protein. Every once in a while, though, my Inner Meatasaurus rears its giant head, gnashes its teeth, and cries out for beef. Last weekend we made hamburgers stuffed with blue cheese, and they satisfied my carnivorous craving to a " T ".

Spicy Blue Cheeseburgers

serves 4

1 lb lean ground beef
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2-3 cloves garlic minced (or more if you like)
1 tsp paprika
1 T lemon juice
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 C rolled oats
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 C finely chopped onion
1/2 C crumbled blue cheese

In large bowl combine all the above ingredients EXCEPT the blue cheese. Form mixture into 8 equal balls. Flatten them into patties and make a well in the center of four of them. Divide the blue cheese crumbles equally and place in the wells of each patty. Top with the remaining patties and seal the edges well.

Grill or pan-fry, about 4 minutes on each side, until the meat is cooked through and the cheese is nice and melty.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Spicy Gingerbread

"If loving you is wrong, I don't want to be right..."

My long-running love affair with dessert continues, and brings to mind that song by Luther Ingram from 1972. While Marble Man and I have been back on our diets, we've tried to keep sweets out of the house, and I just couldn't do it. The past two days I've been Jonesing for a little Somethin'-Somethin' to feed my craving. A fresh batch of gingerbread yesterday did the trick: moist, spicy, and slightly sweet. The recipe I use is from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook, by Molly Katzen. It calls for lots of freshly grated ginger, and this is key - don't substitute ground ginger as it won't have the same kick.

Spicy Gingerbread
Serves 12
preheat oven 350 degrees

5 T unsalted butter
3 T freshly grated ginger
1/2 C light honey
1/2 C light molasses
1/2 C plain yogurt
1 large egg
1 C whole wheat flour
1 C unbleached white flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp ground cloves or allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Saute the butter and ginger together light, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Beat the honey and molasses together vigorously for 5 minutes. Then beat in the ginger plus all of its butter.

Beat the yogurt and the egg together well. Combine with the above mixture and set aside.

Sift together the remaining ingredients thoroughly into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture. Add the wet mixture. Combine thoroughly, but minimally. Spread the batter into an 8" square pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake 30-35 minutes. It's done when the top is springy to the touch, or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

"MMMmmmm... yummy!"
copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Barley Salad Vinaigrette

This being July 4th weekend, there are a lot of pot luck parties going on. I've found it very difficult to eat a balanced meal at this kind of party, with available dishes loaded with heavy fats and proteins, or an abundance of desserts. This barley salad tastes great and is loaded with fiber.

Barley Salad Vinaigrette
Serves 4

2 C cooked pearled barley, cooled
1/2 C seeded and diced cucumber
1/4 C each diced red pepper and scallion
2 T chopped radish
1 T each chopped parsley and dill
2 T red vinegar
4 tsp olive oil
1 T water
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
4 C shredded lettuce

In medium bowl, combine barley, cucumber, bell pepper, scallion, radish, parsley and dill. Set aside.

In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients except the lettuce. Stir well. Pour over barley mixture. Toss to coat. Serve over lettuce.

This is sure to be a big hit at your next potluck: not only tasty, but good for you and pretty to look at on the plate. Enjoy!

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fra Diavolo Sauce and Pasta

Oh my, that was quite a party yesterday here in Bloglandia. Thank you, Vanessa, for being such a charming hostess and introducing us all to each other. It's going to take some time to make my way around the room, so please be patient with me.
While getting ready for yesterday's party post, last week I worked most of each day right up until dinner time. I was so tired on Wednesday, especially, that all I could think of making was this simple and delicious pasta dish.

Fra Diavolo Sauce and Pasta

serves 4

4 T olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
6 oz linguine pasta
8 oz small shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 oz bay scallops
1 oz chopped fresh parsley
1 T chopped fresh basil
Parmesan cheese (optional)

In large saucepan, heat 2 T olive oil with the garlic over medium heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle, pour in the tomatoes. Season with salt and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions and drain.

In large skillet, heat the remaining 2 T olive oil over high heat. Add the seafood. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the shrimp turn pink. Add to the tomato mixture, and add the fresh herbs. Cook until the sauce just begins to bubble, about 2 minutes. Serve sauce over pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

**Note: I used a 12 oz bag frozen uncooked shrimp and half a bag of frozen seafood mix from Trader Joe's which had calamari, shrimp, and bay scallops. I thawed the seafood and drained it well before sauteing. The squid was a particularly nice addition.

I started with 1/2 tsp pepper flakes - I just had this feeling that 1 whole tsp would wind up being atomic. But, if you are a strong soul, go for it!

I also didn't have any linguine on hand, so used rotelli, and it was just great.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ginger-Soy Broiled Salmon

When I've been working hard all day, I barely want to think about what's for dinner - and I've also usually left the decision to the very last minute. At these times, simplicity is best, and I love a recipe that seems to cook itself!

Ginger-Soy Broiled Salmon
Serves 4


2 T low sodium soy sauce
2 T lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T freshly grated ginger
1/4 C olive oil

4 (6 oz) salmon fillets

Combine marinade ingredients in a glass baking dish and add fish pieces. Cover well and place in fridge for an hour, turning once.

Move fish to a foil-lined cookie sheet and broil until cooked through.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chocolate-Apricot Bars

I guess you've figured out by now that I've got a bit of a sweet tooth... OK, maybe more than one! That's why I'm on a perpetual diet. Thankfully, Weight Watchers realizes that most of their clients have at least one sweet tooth, and have come up with some recipes to satisfy without breaking the caloric budget. This recipe for Chocolate-Apricot Bars is one of my favorites:

Chocolate-Apricot Bars
Serves 12

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1.5 C all purpose flour
3 oz (1 C) uncooked quick oats
1/4 C firmly packed light brown sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 C reduced calorie tub margarine, well chilled (I use Smart Balance)
2 T chilled water
3/4 C apricot spreadable fruit
2 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Spray a 9" baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In medium bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar and salt. With pastry blender (or 2 knives), cut in margarine and water until mixture is a crumbly dough. Press dough into prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden.

Evenly top bar mixture with spreadable fruit and bake 15 minutes. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate in microwave oven on High for 90 seconds, stirring halfway through cooking time. Or, you can use a double boiler on the stove top. Evenly drizzle the chocolate over the cooled apricot bar mixture. Cool completely, then cut into 12 equal squares.

Each Serving Provides:

200 calories
3 g Protein
6 g Fat
25 g Carbohydrate
87 mgs Sodium
0 mgs Cholesterol
1 g Dietary Fiber

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Black Bean Burgers

Marble Man and I are still following our diet plans, as well as attempting to save some cash at the grocery store. Vegetarian meals seem like the best bet for meeting both of those goals. These Jamaican-flavored black bean burgers are really delicious, AND they look like beef burgers on the plate! It's kind of freaky how good they look... and then that first bite is a symphony of flavors. I guarantee, you'll be hooked on them once you try them.

Black Bean Burgers
serves: 8

2 T olive oil
1 1/2 C chopped onion
2 -3 cloves minced garlic
1 T fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 C black beans, drained
1 1/2 C cooked rice
a few dashes of tabasco sauce
1 C plain bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
black pepper

Heat 1 T oil and saute the onions, stirring until they soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, allspice and nutmeg and saute for two more minutes.

Pour into a food processor along with beans, rice, and tobasco sauce. Pulse repeatedly until mixture is chopped, not pureed.

Transfer to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Shape into 8 patties and fry in remaining 1 T oil over medium heat, about 4 minutes per side.


copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Orange Chicken & Roasted Vidalia Onions

Life is getting back to normal which, for me, means: "Stop eating comfort foods and go back to your diet!!!" These two recipes are very light and packed with savory flavors.

Roasted Smokey Orange Chicken
Serves 4
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4 (5 oz) skinless chicken breast halves
salt and ground black pepper
1/2 C orange marmalade (of the "all fruit" variety)
1-1/2 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp liquid smoke

Line a shallow baking pan with tin foil. arrange chicken in pan and lightly season all over with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In small bowl, combine marmalade, soy sauce, and liquid smoke. Mix well and pour over chicken.

Roast for 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Roasted Vidalia Onions
Serves 4
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4 medium vidalias (2 lbs) peeled and cut into 8 wedges
Olive oil-flavored cooking spray
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 T balsamic vinegar

Arrange onions, flat side down, on jellyroll pan coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat onions with spray. Sprinkle seasonings over onions. Bake 30 minutes. Turn onions over and bake an additional 25 minutes. Spoon into serving dish and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Baked Oatmeal

Who doesn't love breakfast? And who wouldn't want it made ahead, freezable, and reheatable, too? That's what you'll get with this delicious and easy oatmeal recipe.

Baked Oatmeal

Serves 10
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

5 C rolled oats
4 eggs (or 1 C egg substitute to reduce calories)
1/2 C canola oil
1/2 C unsweetened applesauce
3/4 C sugar (or Splenda)
2 C skim milk
1 T baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salk
1 large apple, chopped with skins left on
1 C raisins

Put ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Pour into sprayed 9 x 13 inch baking dish and bake for 40 minutes.

Great warm or cold, drizzled with milk (fat free half and half is even better!)

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms

So far so good on the diet front... In keeping with my newly-found resolve, today's recipe is a vegetable - one so filling it can be considered a light meal.

Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms
Serves 4

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4 large portabello mushrooms, stems and gills removed
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
2-3 large garlic gloves, minced
1 C chopped onion
1 C artichoke hearts, chopped
1 T olive oil
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
1/4 C pine nuts

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened. Add the mushroom caps, flat side own, and saute for a minute or two. Remove the mushrooms to a foil-lined baking pan, leaving onion and garlic in the pan. Add the spinach and artichokes to the pan and saute just to combine flavors. Add the pine nuts and Parmesan and stir to combine.

Spray the unfilled mushrooms with non-stick cooking spray to keep the rims from drying out. Evenly distribute the filling among the four mushrooms and bake 15 minutes.

Have fun playing with the filling ingredients. This week I added 1/2 Cup of Morningstar Farms sausage crumbles (awesome!), and I think some blue cheese or feta would be good too. Let me know what you do with it so I can try it too.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Blue Cheese Coleslaw

Summer’s nearly here, and one of my favorite side dishes is coleslaw – it’s all about the coleslaw. I love it – so creamy, salty, and crunchy. But, I might as well just slather it all over my hips, ‘cuz that’s where it’s heading after I eat it! But, then I was watching Robin Miller’s cooking show on the Food Network one day, and she presented a version I couldn’t resist. It's much lighter, nutritionally, than the traditional recipe, and the flavors explode in your mouth.

Blue Cheese Coleslaw
Serves 6 (1 cup each)

3 T cider vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ C raisins
¼ C crumbled blue cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 package coleslaw mix

In small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, and mustard. Stir in the raisins and the blue cheese. Season with salt and pepper and toss with the packaged coleslaw mix in a large bowl.

Nutritional information:
Calories: 135
Fat: 8.35 grams
Cholesterol: 4.2 mgs
Sodium: 243.3 mgs
Carbohydrate: 14.5 grams
Fiber: 2.5 grams
Protein: 2.6 grams

This is fabulous with barbecue, pizza, burgers, or anything you can think of – even by itself.

Marble Man once told me he loves when I go on a diet because we eat so well when I do. :)

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

“My Doctor Done Told Me”…

He said I’d have recurring back pain for the rest of my life if I didn’t lose some weight. I started a couple of years ago, and took off 25 pounds – half of what he suggested. Then I got derailed when Pooch got so sick a year and a half ago. Doing all the food prep a diet requires was just too much for me in addition to caring for our terminal friend. So, I found the pounds I lost.

For the past three days, I’ve been hobbling around like an old lady because my back has revolted. Too many cupcakes, not enough bunny food. Add to the mix the fact that North Carolina has just decided to reduce health insurance benefits for state employees who are “seriously obese” (determined by BFI), and it makes sense to take off those clingy extra pounds – all fifty of them. It seems an insurmountable task when I look at the bigger picture. Time to take baby steps… especially since can’t move very fast right now!

I had success the last time I made this vow by combining principles of The South Beach Diet and an older generation of Weight Watchers - no calculating points for me. I cut out a lot of the processed carbohydrates and concentrated on whole grains, lots of fresh veggies, lean meats, and weighing and measuring my portions.

I also resorted to counting calories, something both diet plans eschew. It’s simply a matter of physics: calories in-vs-calories burned determines weight loss. I know for a fact I can pack away a significant number of calories in a day, so I must count them to keep myself honest.

I use, which is a GREAT online journaling site. It takes a bit of time in the beginning. A lot of the foods we eat are not listed in their database, so I had to input all the nutritional info for those. But now, I have a long customized list to choose from each day and tracking my daily intake takes maybe 10 minutes a day. Each morning I plan my food for the day, input it all and the site calculates the caloric value for the day as well as the nutritional distribution for the day.

Here's a fabulous recipe for a high-protein breakfast. We love French toast for breakfast, but now it's off the menu for a while. Here's a substitute - I swear you'll never know the bread is missing!

Faux French Toast
serves 2

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 C part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp Splenda
2 tsp butter or margarine (I use Smart Balance)

In small bowl combine the eggs, cheese, vanilla and Splenda. Mix well. Melt butter or margarine in nonstick skillet and pour in cheese mixture. Allow to cook over medium heat until browned on the bottom and the top is no longer runny. Flip and cook the second side until browned. Serve with a tiny drizzle of maple syrup.

All the flavors and texture of French toast without the bread!

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Shimp-Pesto Pizza

This week, Marble Man and I shook things up good and proper. Usually when we make a pizza, it's loaded with a variety of veggies, and topped with the requisite anchovy fillets. Before you all wrinkle up your faces and say ""EEwww", understand that anchovies are a Northeastern Thing. We love 'em - can't get enough of 'em.

This week, we went with something new. I found a recipe in Southern Living magazine for Shrimp-Pesto Pizza and it sounded amazing. We took it a step further and used a garlic and herb pizza dough from Trader Joe's. Wowiezowie! It was incredible. Each bite was loaded with zingie flavors, and the shrimps were tender and juicy. The original recipe called for grilling the pizza, but we popped ours into a hot oven and it came out great. So, here's the recipe for you:

Shrimp-Pesto Pizza (Southern Living Magazine, Oct 2007)
Serves 2-3

1/2 lb large raw shrimp, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 T olive oil, divided
all purpose flour
yellow cornmeal
1 lb fresh pizza dough
1/3 C refrigerated pesto
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese

Coat cold cooking grate of grill with nonstick cooking spray and place on grill. Preheat grill to 350 degrees (medium heat).

Saute onion, bell pepper, salt, and pepper in 1 T oil in large skillet over med-high heat until tender. Transfer to a large bowl. Sautee sliced shrimp in remaining oil until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Drain well and add shrimp to onion mixture and toss.

Lightly sprinkle flour and cornmeal onto a large baking sheet. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness on baking sheet. Slide dough from baking sheet to cooking grate. Spread pesto evenly over crust, top with shrimp mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Grill, covered with grill lid, 4 minutes. Rotate pizza one quarter turn and grill, covered, 5-6 more minutes until crust is cooked. Serve immediately.
This was our first time trying this recipe, and we made some small changes, which I think worked out well:

Because of the cheese in the pesto, I reduced the Parmesan topping to 1/4 cup, and it was more than adequate.

We heated our oven to 425 degrees and baked the pizza right on the baking sheet for 15 minutes. I think the next time we make it, we'll bake the crust topless for about 5 minutes to keep the pesto from making it too soggy.

I hope you'll try this!

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Crepes Suzette

We had such a lovely meal for our anniversary last weekend, including crepes Suzette, that I wanted to share this SUPER-easy Weight Watchers recipe with you. I love when dessert can be considered good for the body. Don’t you?

The crepes can be made in advance and frozen for future use. To freeze them, stack the cooled crepes, using a layer of wax paper between each to separate. Finish the stack with a piece of wax paper, and you can roll the stack into a tube. Wrap the whole thing in a Ziploc freezer bag. Freeze until needed. When ready to use, thaw at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.

Crepes Suzette:
Makes 4 servings, 2 crepes each

1 C skim milk
¾ C all purpose flour
2 eggs

2 T unsalted margarine (I use Smart Balance)
1 T granulated sugar
1 C orange juice
¼ C thawed frozen concentrated orange juice
2 T orange liqueur

To prepare the crepes: In blender container, combine milk, flour and eggs. Process until smooth. Let stand about 15 minutes to allow bubbles to subside.

Lightly spray 6 skillet or crepe pan with nonstick spray and heat. Pour ¼ C batter into pan and quickly swirl to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Cook over med-high heat about 30 seconds until the top looks dry. Carefully turn the pancake over and cook a few more seconds. Slide crepe onto a plate and repeat until you’ve made 8 crepes.

To prepare the sauce: In 12” nonstick skillet melt margarine. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Stir in juice, thawed concentrate, and liqueur and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.

To finish the dish: Add one crepe to skillet, coating both sides with sauce. Fold crepe in half, then again to create a triangle shape. Slide to the side of the skillet and repeat with remaining crepes. Serve immediately.

Nutritional info:
Per serving (2 crepes)
286 calories
8 grams protein
9 grams fat
40 grams carbohydrate
106 grams calcium
68 mgs sodium
138 mgs cholesterol

Happy Easter and Good Pesach, Everyone!

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Monday, April 6, 2009

HOW Many Years Has It Been?!?

Yesterday was a big celebration for Marble Man and me. We unplugged for the entire day... that's right, we turned off the tv AND the computer (Whaaaat?). We spent the day being together, and being quiet. It was lovely. Oh.... right, and it was our wedding anniversary: twenty-two years ago we made it official.

"How did you celebrate", you ask? With food of course! We're serious foodies - what better way to say "I love you" than with fabulous flavors?

Marble Man did the shopping this week, so he picked up his version of surf 'n' turf: baby lamb chops and humongous sea scallops served over sauteed pea shoots.

"Hurry up and take the picture already!"

For dessert: Crepes Suzette (Sorry no pictures, we snarfed 'em up too fast for the shutter to click!)

And for Afters: Rum Runners. If you've never been to Florida, you probably haven't heard of these frozen concoctions. They're lethal! We were in The Sunshine State for our honeymoon and after tasting one of these drinks, we rapidly realized we had to limit ourselves to ONE per night. We were totally blotto. We had so much fun that we made them at home:

Florida rum Runner
Makes one drink

1.5 oz rum
1 oz blackberry brandy
1 oz banana liqueur
1.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz grenadine syrup
crushed ice

Mix in blender until ice is slushy.

Serve while frozen in a collins glass. Insert straw and pour 151 rum down the straw. That first hit's a doozy!

Here's to another 20 years with you, Marble Man... my best friend, and the love of my life.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Orange Flax Seed Bran Muffins

Back in my South Beach Diet days, I collected many high fiber, flavor-filled recipes. This one is a hit in our house. All of the ingredients are available at Whole Foods. Just a note about ground flax seed: be sure to store it in the freezer. Once the seeds are ground, they go rancid VERY quickly!

Orange Flax Seed Bran Muffins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Makes 22-24 muffins

1 C oat bran
1 C flour (I use ½ C each of all purpose and whole wheat flours)
1 C ground flax seed
1 C wheat bran
1 T baking powder
½ tsp salt

Combine the above ingredients in a large bowl.

2 whole navel oranges, rinsed and cut into pieces (with peel!)
1 C brown sugar
1 C buttermilk (or 1 C milk + 1¾ tsp cream of tartar. Combine and let sit for 5 min before using)
1/4 C canola oil
1/4 C unsweetened applesauce
1/2 C egg beaters egg substitute
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 C raisins

Place orange pieces in a blender and grind them up first, then add the rest of this group of ingredients to the blender and whiz together. Add orange mixture to the dry ingredients and blend well.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups nearly to the top (the muffins don’t rise much at all). Bake 1-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (They will be very moist muffins when baked.) Cool in tins for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Yields about 22-24 muffins, depending on how full you make the tins before baking. Guaranteed they won’t last long!

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Peach Salsa

Since starting to post recipes, I've mostly shared my favorite main dishes. We often have interesting sides with our meals, and this is a favorite. It's super easy and fast, and goes very well with meats. Heck, it's good all by itself!

Peach salsa
prep time: 5 minutes
serves 4

2 (15 oz) cans peaches in juice, drained and chopped
2 green onions with tops, thinly slices
2 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 T lime juice
1/4 tsp Asian Five Spice Powder
2 tsp garlic chile paste
1/8 tsp white pepper

In medium bowl, combine the peaches, onion, cilantro and lime juice. Mix in the spice powder, chile paste, and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

** Just a note: 2 full tsp of the garlic chile paste is enough to blow the roof off. While I like a nice fiery dish, this recipe had Marble Man on his knees and crying for his Momma. So, you might want to start with a little less and see how you like it - you can always add more.


In the summertime this is great with fresh peaches instead of canned.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Turkey-Stuffed Cabbage

Because of St Patrick’s Day last week, cabbage heads were 39 cents at the grocery store. I’m no dummy – that’s a lot of cabbage for not much lettuce! I love stuffed cabbage rolls, but don’t think to make them very often. We had them this week and oh, boy, they were goooooood.

Turkey-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Tangy Red Sauce

Serves 6
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

12 large cabbage leaves

1 pound lean ground turkey
¾ C cooked rice
½ C finely chopped onion
½ C finely chopped carrots
1 egg, beaten
1 T lemon juice
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T Dijon mustard
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ C milk


1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 14 ½ oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
3 T sugar
2 T vinegar
½ C water
2 T cornstarch mixed with ¼ C cold water

Drop cabbage leaves into boiling water, cover and cook 3 minutes. Drain well. For filling, combine ground turkey, rice, onion, carrots, egg, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, pepper, and milk. Mix well and divide into 12 portions. Place one portion in each cabbage leaf and roll up around filling. Place in a baking dish. For sauce, combine tomato sauce, tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, and ½ C and pour over cabbage rolls in baking dish. Cover and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Remove rolls from pan and transfer the juices to a saucepan. Place over medium heat. Stir cornstarch and water mixture into the saucepan. Bring to a boil, and stir until thickened. Pour over rolls and serve.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?