Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cherry-Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal Cookies

I've been meaning to post this recipe for a while and just kept forgetting. Some good friends from college visited this weekend and I made these cookies. This is based on the basic cookie recipe I use all the time; the chocolate-and-dried cherry combination is terrific! (Dried cranberries are a good substitute.) Enjoy!

Cherry-Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
6 oz. dried cherries
1 (11.5-oz.) package semisweet chocolate chips

1. Beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended after each addition. Add in vanilla.
2. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Stir in cherries and chocolate chips. Scoop batter onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
3. Bake at 350° until done. (Small cookies—bake for 8 to 9 minutes; large cookies—bake for 11 minutes. Click here to see the two sizes of scoops I use.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cranberry-Orange Muffins

This recipe is the latest addition to the Grace's Kitchen menu. These are much better than these that I posted in 2008. This new version uses dried cranberries, so you can serve them year-round. Sorry there's no photo. They are very easy to make (no mixer required) and very tasty—two important attributes. Enjoy!

Cranberry-Orange Muffins
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted
Zest from 1 orange
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
6 oz. dried cranberries

1. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk and next 4 ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Gently stir in cranberries.
2. Bake at 375° for 15 to 20 minutes or until done.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Here's a quick weeknight dinner idea. To top the baked Yukon Gold potatoes, I used shredded Poached Chicken that I had frozen a few weeks ago and thawed overnight in the fridge, steam-in-a-bag broccoli florets, and a simple cheese sauce (recipe follows). A few crumbles of bacon was the perfect topper. To bake the potatoes, just poke holes in them with a fork and bake at 400° for 1 hour—simple and easy! (Note: Publix now sells their own brand of this steam-in-a-bag vegetables that are $1 cheaper than the name brand.) Enjoy!

Cheese Sauce
This makes enough for 2 to 3 servings.
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1 cup skim milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper

1. Melt butter in a skillet; stir in flour, and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, whisking often, until mixture becomes smooth and thickens. Stir in cheese until it melts; stir in salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Turkey-Corn Quesadillas

So far in 2010, we have eaten our fair share of soup and then some. This is due to several reasons—it's easy, makes a lot (translation: meals in the freezer), and is the ultimate one-dish comfort food. Tonight I pulled some Black Bean Soup out of the freezer and served it with these quesadillas—a satisfying meal. Quesadillas are super-easy and versatile. I bake them in the oven to crisp the tortillas and melt the cheese; this saves the mess that comes when I try to flip them in the skillet! The ground turkey keeps this meal figure-friendly (9 points for a whole quesadilla—Andy and I only ate half. I topped mine with sliced avocados. Enjoy!

Turkey-Corn Quesadillas
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 lb. ground turkey
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
6 oz. frozen corn kernels
1/2 can tomatoes and green chiles
8 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
Vegetable cooking spray

1. Sauté onion in hot oil in large skillet until onion begins to soften. Add in garlic and ground turkey, and cook, stirring often, until turkey cooks and crumbles. Stir in chili powder and next 5 ingredients. Cook mixture until liquid is mostly absorbed.
2. Place 4 tortillas on baking sheets. Top with 1/8 cup cheese, a fourth of the turkey mixture, another 1/8 cup cheese, and another tortilla. Spray tortillas with cooking spray.
3. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and tortillas are brown around the edges. Cut into quarters.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jalapeño Corn Muffins

This recipe is based on one from Barefoot Contessa. These muffins are fluffy and very rich (the amount of butter is staggering). Note: It calls for 2 Tbsp. baking powder, which is a lot, but that amount ensures an airy batter. These corn muffins would be great paired with chili or black bean soup. Enjoy!

Jalapeño Corn Muffins
This batter can be made ahead and refrigerated. It also freezes well.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk or milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup butter, melted
1 (8-oz.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

1. Combine the flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine buttermilk and eggs; stir into flour mixture. Stir in melted butter (this ensures the hot butter won’t scramble the eggs). Stir in cheese and next 2 ingredients. Scoop batter into lightly greased muffin cups.
2. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden and done.

Baked Potato Soup

Tonight was the first board meeting for Grace's Kitchen. For dinner, I made this soup (it stayed warm in the slow cooker), plus Italian Wedding Soup, Apple-Blue Cheese Chopped Salad, Jalapeño Corn Muffins, and Cappuccino Brownies. The original recipe is from SL—my version is a little healthier and is pretty simple to make (just allow time to bake potatoes) and is a crowd-pleaser (7 points per 1-cup serving). Enjoy!

Baked Potato Soup
5 large baking potatoes, baked
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
3 cups skim milk
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 (8-ounce) block Cheddar cheese, shredded
8 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

1. Peel potatoes, and mash with a potato masher.
2. Melt butter in olive oil in a Dutch oven; add onion, and sauté until tender. Add flour, stirring until smooth. Stir in potatoes, whole milk, and next 3 ingredients; cook until thoroughly heated. Stir in cheese and bacon, and cook until thoroughly heated.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cuban Sandwiches

Tonight we had a belated birthday celebration for Russ, and he requested Cuban Sandwiches for dinner. Our family developed an affinity for these sandwiches with a side of black beans and rice when we lived in Tampa during the late 1980s. (I'll never forget how yummy that little styrofoam bowl filled with white rice, then black beans, and topped off with a little fresh chopped onion was!) These sandwiches have the traditional combination of ingredients—ham, pork, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, and dill pickles—but I serve them grilled. Delicious! (I calculated the points value of this recipe, but trust me, it's best to not share it. My recommendation is to only serve these occasionally—but they're worth the calories.) Enjoy!

Cuban Sandwiches
This makes 6 to 7 sandwiches.
2 loaves Cuban bread
1 lb. sliced ham
1 Citrus Pork Tenderloin, sliced
12 Swiss cheese slices
Yellow mustard
Sandwich-sliced dill pickles

1. Cut ends off Cuban bread loaves. Cut each loaf into 3 or 4 pieces; slice each piece in half, horizontally. Spread mustard on cut sides of bread. Place 1 Swiss cheese slice on half of bread pieces; top with 2 pieces ham, 2 or 3 slices pork, dill pickle slices, and another slice of Swiss cheese. Top with remaining bread piece, mustard side down.
2. Grill sandwiches on both sides until cheese begins to melt. (I place mine on the grill pan and then weigh them down with a cast-iron skillet filled with 3 cans of tomatoes.) Serve warm.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Citrus Pork Tenderloin

This is a super-simple slow-cooker recipe. The orange marmalade and mustard are the perfect complements to the pork and help it not taste so pork-y (nice made-up word). We sliced this tenderloin to use in Cuban Sandwiches, but it would be good served on it's own with a couple of sides. (I'm not sure of the points value because the WW tool doesn't allow for the fact that the marmalade works as a marinade and you don't eat it. It is a pretty healthful main dish; a 3-oz. serving of pork tenderloin is 3 points.) Enjoy!

Citrus Pork Tenderloin
1 (2-lb.) pork tenderloin (don't use a premarinated one)
Salt and pepper
Whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 jar orange marmalade

1. Place pork tenderloin in slow cooker; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread mustard on top and sides of tenderloin. Spoon marmalade on top of and on tenderloin. Cover and cook at LOW for 4 to 6 hours or until done. Slice before serving.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Creamy Chicken-and-Wild Rice Soup

Andy and I both really liked this thick soup (it's almost a stew). The fat-free evaporated milk and splash of sherry gave it a very rich taste, with much less fat than a cream-based soup. It's based on a Cooking Light recipe and while it isn't as low in points as I prefer, it's very filling. A serving is supposed to be 1 1/2 cups, which is 8 points. However, 1 cup would be a good meal and then the points value is about 6. Enjoy!

Creamy Chicken-and-Wild Rice Soup
2 small packages long grain-and-wild rice mix (I used Mahatma.)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, thinly sliced
4 carrots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (8-oz.) package sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tbsp. dry sherry
6 cups chicken stock
1 (12-oz.) can fat-free evaporated milk
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook wild rice mix according to package directions.
2. Sauté onion, celery, and carrots in hot oil until vegetables begin to soften. Stir in garlic and mushrooms, and sauté until vegetables are tender. Stir in flour and next 2 ingredients, and cook 1 minutes. Stir in sherry. Gradually stir in chicken stock and evaporated milk, stirring often; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and stir in chicken and wild rice. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Roasted Tomato Sauce

I had a few plum tomatoes that I needed to use, so I used them to make an easy tomato sauce. Dinner came together in less than 45 minutes—a plus because I worked late tonight. I added bell peppers to the roasting pan to up the veggie factor. Once the vegetables were roasted, they went into a bowl and were pureed with my immersion blender. This is terrific as a vegetarian sauce, but you could add some cooked and crumbled Italian chicken sausage (I buy it at Whole Foods). The sauce has 2 points per serving. Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato Sauce
6 plum tomatoes, quartered
1 onion, cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bell pepper, cut into chunks
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Hot cooked pasta

1. Place tomatoes and next 3 ingredients on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar, and basil.
2. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
3. Place fresh oregano in bottom of a large bowl; spoon in vegetable mixture. Puree with an immersion blender until desired consistency. Stir in balsamic vinegar. Serve with hot cooked pasta.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Recipe Rewind: Chicken Souvlaki

Tonight I made this yummy recipe from Cooking Light that my friend Katie told me about. The first time I made it back in September, I remember really liking it. However because I'm always coming across new recipes, I often forget about ones I previously liked. As I planned this two-week periods menus, Chicken Souvlaki came back to me. The best thing is that one serving only has 4 points (this includes the Tzaziki Sauce). The second best thing is that it was ready in less than 30 minutes. Instead of serving it in pita pockets, I served multigrain pita chips on the side. Andy gave it two thumbs up, saying "It has a really nice flavor profile!" That's high praise, folks. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Citrus Vinaigrette

I love the flavor of citrus, especially this time of year when these fruits are at their peak. (Oranges are my favorite fruit, hands down.) For a couple of years, I've been trying to find a vinaigrette recipe that showcases the bright flavor of my favorite fruit and haven't been successful. Last night I volunteered to bring a salad to my sister's house (she fed us dinner) and decided to try creating a citrus vinaigrette. This recipe is a success! It has just enough orange flavor, and the sweetness of the honey balances the acid nicely. Dijon mustard and minced garlic add a little bit of a kick. I served it over Boston lettuce, grape tomatoes, and sliced carrots, but it would also be terrific over a salad with sliced avocado and sectioned oranges and grapefruits. (This has 1 point per tablespoon.) Enjoy!

Citrus Vinaigrette
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 navel oranges)
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 tsp. orange zest
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Combine orange juice and next 7 ingredients in a jar. Cover with lid, and shake until combined. Pour in olive oil, and shake unitl combined.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Blueberry-Lemon Pancakes

This morning we had pancakes, but I decided to jazz up my usual recipe for Buttermilk Pancakes with the addition of 1 tsp. lemon zest and 1 cup blueberries (these were some I had frozen this summer). They tasted great! The lemon was very subtle and it pairs nicely with the blueberries. (Low-fat or fat-free buttermilk gives the pancakes great flavor without a lot of fat; two pancakes have ~4 points.) Enjoy!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Brown Rice Salad With Chicken and Tomatoes

This recipe was inspired by one in the January/February issue of Everyday Food. I wanted something filling and different to take to work for lunch. This will work very well! You cook the brown rice in chicken stock, which adds flavor without the fat. (This recipe makes 6 servings and counts as ~5 WW points. To boost the nutritional value, you could add a bag of baby spinach.) Enjoy!

Brown Rice Salad With Chicken and Tomatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 English cucumber, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups cooked brown rice (I used chicken stock in place of water.)
1 cup shredded Poached Chicken
1 tsp. dried dill

1. Combine olive oil, next 3 ingredients, and salt and pepper to taste. Combine cucumber and next 4 ingredients in a bowl; toss with olive oil mixture.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tomato Soup

It has been very cold this week, so soup has been a mainstay on the menu. Tonight we had Tomato Soup and Pesto Grilled Cheeses With Bacon. Because I'm trying to keep track of what I'm eating, this soup will definitely be on a long-term rotation—it has a grand total of 1 point per 1-cup serving! Because the soup was so healthful, I splurged a bit on the accompaniment. Herbes de Provence and crushed red pepper flakes are the key flavor boosters in this yummy soup. This was very filling and didn't make me feel like I'm missing out. (It also freezes well.) Enjoy!

Tomato Soup
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 (28-oz.) cans whole tomatoes in puree
1 Tbsp. herbes de Provence
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1. Sauté onion in hot oil until onion is tender. Add in garlic, and cook 1 minute. Whisk in flour, and cook 1 minute. Slowly add in stock, whisking until thickened. Stir in tomatoes and next 3 ingredients. Use immersion blender to puree soup until desired consistency. Stir in parsley and next 2 ingredients; cook, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly heated.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Poached Chicken

I have always been skeptical about poaching anything. It seems too hard. And when it comes to chicken, I found poaching unappealing because I was afraid it would create that gross chicken foam you get when you boil chicken. Good news: It doesn't! I was inspired to try this technique when I received my latest issue of Everyday Food. It turns out that poaching is very easy and requires minimum cooking. After the chicken was done, I shredded it, divided it into zip-top bags, and froze it for future use.

Poached Chicken
1 onion, halved
1 carrot, cut into thirds
1 celery stalk, cut into thirds
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black peppercorns
3 fresh thyme sprigs
3 fresh oregano sprigs
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1. Combine onion and next 9 ingredients in a large pan. Cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add chicken, and return to a boil. Cook 3 minutes, and then cover pan and remove from heat. Let stand for 18 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked, turning halfway through. Remove chicken, and discard poaching liquid.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Italian Wedding Soup

This recipe is January comfort food at its finest—a warm, flavorful soup that's pretty healthful to boot. My inspiration was a recipe by Ina Garten in Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics. I lightened the original a bit by cutting back on the olive oil used to sauté the veggies without affecting the flavor. (BTW, I'm back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon—this has 6 points.) This makes a lot—10 (1-cup) servings—and freezes well. (Be sure to check out this tip.) Don't be intimidated by the ingredients list—it's very easy to make. Enjoy!

Italian Wedding Soup
1 lb. ground chicken
1/2 lb. chicken sausage, casings removed (I used mild Italian sausage from Whole Foods.)
2 bread slices, processed into breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (If you prefer, you can omit the Pecorino-Romano and use 1/2 cup Parmesan.)
3 Tbsp. milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, cut in half and sliced into half circles
2 celery stalks, chopped
10 cups chicken stock (I prefer Kitchen Basics brand.)
1/2 dry white wine (optional)
1 cup ditalini pasta
12 ounces baby spinach

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine ground chicken and next 10 ingredients. Drop teaspoon-size meatballs onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until done.
2. Sauté onion and next 2 ingredients in hot oil until vegetables soften. Stir in chicken stock and, if desired, wine. Bring to a boil. Stir in pasta, and cook until pasta is done (about 7 minutes). Stir in baby spinach and meatballs. Cook 5 more minutes. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.