Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Handy-Dandy Trick

So, I know this isn't a recipe, but I think you may find this video handy.  I hate cutting onions because I always cry.  I followed this chef's advice, and it totally worked!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Nothing's Better on a Cold Night Than Soup

So, I know I made soup last week, but in honor of the freezing cold we are now experiencing in Florida, I decided I had to do it again (make soup that is).  I also decided to do another old Italian favorite of my grandma's, Pasta Fagioli (pronounced pasta fawzule).  My grandma used to make this on cold nights when I was little so I just had to let you in on the fun.

  1. 1/2 of 16 oz. box of whole wheat elbow macaroni
  2. 4 large (19 oz.) cans of cannellini beans
  3. 3 large carrots
  4. 4 stems of celery
  5. 2, 32 oz. containers of chicken broth
  6. 1/2 clove of fresh garlic
  7. salt and pepper
  8. 1 tsp. of olive oil
  9. 1 tbsp. of tomato paste

This is actually one of the easier soups to prepare.  Start of course with the prep work.  Chop your veggies-carrots and celery- and mince your garlic.  You can also go ahead and cook your noodles until they are al dente (done but not mushy).  

While the noodles are cooking, open your cans of beans and drain them; do not rinse them off.  You want the starch of the beans to remain on them because this is what will make your soup thicken.

Go ahead and finish your noodles as well.  Once they are done, go ahead and drain and rinse them.  Then you can put them aside to put in the soup for later.

Once this is done, you can begin to cook your soup.  First start with the largest soup pot you have.  Put your burner on high, pour your oil in to the pot, and add your fresh garlic.  Tilt the pot to the side so that the garlic are in a pool of oil.

Cook the garlic in the oil until they turn golden brown.  Once this happens you must move fast and remove the garlic from the oil. This step is purely done to add an amazing flavor to your soup.

Now you want to add your chopped carrots and celery.  The goal here is to saute your veggies in the oil you cooked the garlic in.  Once they are tender, you can add your cans of beans, 1.5 containers of your chicken broth, and tomato paste.

Stir this all together and then put the lid on the pot and bring it to a boil.
Once it reaches a boil, turn the temperature down and let it simmer.  You can now add your noodles as well as the salt and pepper.

Once the soup thickens (it should cook for at least 15 minutes) you are ready to enjoy a wonderful Italian favorite with your family.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Garbage Soup, Anyone??

So, I happen to be blessed with an Italian grandmother who loves to cook and has passed down many of her recipes to me.  This is one of her recipes that I have tweaked a bit for the low-cal concerned.  Remember, you can always substitute frozen or canned veggies for the fresh ones I use here if you are in a hurry. Hope you enjoy!

You'll need the following ingredients:

  1. 2 pounds of lean ground beef
  2. 1 28 ounce can and 1 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  3. 1/4 of a head of large cauliflower
  4. 1/4 of a head of cabbage
  5. 1 yellow squash
  6. 1 zucchini
  7. 2 cups of plucked green beans
  8. 1 large sweet onion
  9. 5 carrots
  10. 1 cup of corn kernels that have been shaved off the cob
  11. 1 tbsp. of Salt and pepper to taste
  12. 1 tbsp. of tomato and chicken flavored bullion

The most time consuming part of this meal is in the preparation.  First, you will want to take all of your vegetables and clean and chop them into small bite-sized pieces. 

 Once all your veggies are chopped, take your lean ground beef and put it in a large saucepan.  Cook the meat until all of it is brown.  Once the meat is thoroughly cooked, drain it in a colander to get the majority of the grease off of your meat.

Once your meat is ready, put it in a large soup pot and add your cans of diced tomatoes.  After you put the tomatoes in the soup, take the empty 28 ounce can, fill it up with water, and put it in your soup.  You will need 2 1/2 cans of water added to your soup.  

Cook this for a few minutes, then add your veggies.  Now, when you add your veggies, don't get overwhelmed.  It may look like a lot at first, but they will cook down.  

All you need to do now is cook your soup.  Just hang around for about thirty minutes and stir it occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.  When the veggies are done cooking, sit down with your family and enjoy! 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Welcome to Moe's!

Welcome to Moe's!  How many of you have heard these wonderful words? I love hearing them because this means I'm about to eat some of their wonderful chicken burritos...then I thought, why wait until I go to Moe's to eat this wonderful meal?  So, here's my attempt at Moe's chicken burritos with a low-calorie twist...Good luck!

You're going to need the following ingredients:
  1. 2 hearts of romaine lettuce (chopped)
  2. 4 large tomatoes (diced and de-seeded)
  3. 1 large onion (chopped finely)
  4. 1 bar of cheddar cheese (shredded)
  5. 1 can of sweet corn
  6. 1 can of black beans
  7. 2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breast
  8. 1 package of fresh cilantro
  9. 5 limes
  10. 1 jar of cilantro base
  11. 1 package of soft wheat burritos
  12. Salt and pepper
  13. 2 packages of taco seasoning
The biggest part of this meal is in the preparation.  First, cut your chicken breasts in to small bite sized pieces and put them aside for later when you will saute them.  Then chop and dice your lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and fresh cilantro and put them all in separate bowls.  Also shred your cheese and put that in a separate bowl as well.

You can also empty the corn and black beans in to separate bowls and make them ready to put on the table.  Cut your limes in to quarters and put them in a bowl to serve as well.

In a large bowl, mix your chopped tomatoes, cilantro, salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of the cilantro base, and the juice of 1/2 lime.  This will make your salsa.

Now that all of your ingredients are ready, saute the chicken.  After it is fully cooked, add your taco seasoning and 3/4 cup of water and let simmer.

Once your chicken is ready, take several burritos and place them in the microwave for 15 seconds.  
The timer goes off and you are ready to serve your yummy chicken burritos.

Monday, February 8, 2010

My Version of the 1905 Salad

Okay, I am so ridiculously excited to share this next recipe with you.  The inspiration for this recipe comes from one of my absolute favorite restaurants, The Columbia.  The Columbia is known for its famous 1905 salad; and for years I have tried to figure out how to make this delicious salad.  Well, through much trial and error, I think I have finally perfected it.  Try it and see what you think!

For this recipe, you will need:

1 large head of iceberg lettuce (chopped)
2  tomatoes (cut in to large pieces)
6 slices of swiss cheese cut in to thin strips
1/4 cup spanish olives
6 slices of ham cut in to thin strips
1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated romano cheese

First, cut your tomatoes into small wedges, finely chop the garlic and cut swiss cheese and ham into thin strips.

Then, in a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, tomatoes, swiss cheese, ham and olives.
In a small bowl, whisk together your garlic, oregano and worcestershire sauce.  

Gradually whisk in the olive oil, continually beating to form an emulsion.  
Then stir in your vinegar and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.  

Next, pour this delicious dressing over your salad and toss well.  For the final touch, add the romano cheese, toss and serve.
This recipe will make four servings, but you may find yourself needing to double it once your family realizes how delicious this salad really is!  

I also like to add some nice hot bread to the meal like a fresh roll of cuban bread. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I Dare You to Make a Better Chicken Cacciatore!

Hello, everyone! So, here we go; our first recipe together...I'm super excited, and, in honor of my Italianheritage, I had to make one of my family's favorite Italian dishes-chicken cacciatore.

You're going to need to get out the following ingredients:
  1. 4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (remember I try to keep it low-cal
  2. cup of yellow onion (sliced thin)
  3. 1 green bell pepper (sliced thin)
  4. 2 cups of fresh mushrooms (pre-sliced)
  5. 2 cups of diced fire-roasted tomatoes (the fire-roasted part is really important--this gives it an amazing flavor that totally sets this dish apart)
  6. 1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. of dried thyme
  7. 1 bay leaf
  8. 1/2 tsp of dried oregano
  9. 1 cup of chopped broccoli (fresh or frozen works just fine)
  10. 1/4 cup of chopped parsley
  11. 1 clove of finely chopped garlic
  12. Garlic powder
  13. Salt and Pepper
  14. 1/4 cup of red wine
  15. Non-stick cooking spray (I use this instead of oil...this keeps our calories low, while still keeping our food from sticking to the pan).

Now, once you start cooking this recipe, it goes pretty fast.  This being said, you need to make sure that you have all of your ingredients out, prepared and ready to have your veggies chopped, your cans open, and your utensils ready!

The first thing we need to do is saute our chicken, get out a large sauce pan, spray the cooking spray, and put your burner on medium/high.  While you're waiting for the pan to heat, take a moment and shake some garlic powder on to your chicken.

Once your pan is nice and hot, go ahead and put your four breasts of chicken in the pan...make sure that you cook your chicken all the way so all those nasty germs go away.

After your chicken is cooked, take it out of the pan, put it on a plate, and set it aside for a few minutes.  Now, spray your pan with the cooking spray again, and add your onions.  Saute them for three minutes, and then add your garlic and peppers and cook them for another two minutes.  Now, you want to add your mushrooms and broccoli and cook for another four minutes.  Make sure throughout this whole process that you are stirring your veggies so everything is cooked evenly.

When all your veggies are cooked and blended together, you can add your red wine.  You're going to cook this for a while.  Keep stirring your veggies, and when it looks like all the wine has cooked away, add your tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, oregano, and salt.  Get this really hot, until you start to see little bubbles in the sauce, and then turn your burner to low.

Now, take the chicken you set aside, and put it in your yummy sauce.  Cover your pan and let this simmer for 8-10 minutes.  Right before you take your pan off the burner, pour your parsley in stir in.
Take off the burner, serve, and enjoy!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Age-old Question

Hello! Thank you for stopping by and checking out my ideas on what to make for dinner.  I started this blog for several reasons, the first being that I love to cook and have many answers to the question, "What's for Dinner?"

The second reason is that I understand the need that people have to cook a fast, yummy, and low-calorie meal for themselves and/or their families.  In today's world, everyone is in a rush, including myself.  As a means for self-preservation, I have learned how to get in, get out, and get the job done when it comes to cooking supper for my family.

The third reason is that I understand how important it is to many to cook healthfully.  One of the most important questions that I ask myself when I cook is, "Is it healthy; it is low-calorie?"  So, in many of my recipes, you will notice a few big differences than in many others.

The first is that you will never see the word "butter." I have found a way to substitute no-calorie cooking spray for almost everything.  The other foods that do require butter we either do not eat or use a butter substitute called "Promise" which you can find in any major food store.

The second is that there are hardly any carbs-foods like potatoes, pastas, bread- in the dinners that I make.  It's amazing how fast calories pile up when you add carbs to the mix...white flour is no good either.  If, however, you're just craving that pasta side or piece of garlic bread, try to substitute good carbs like whole wheat breads and pastas and sweet potatoes instead.

So, without further ado, let's go ahead and figure out what's for dinner.