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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Beef Stew

First, I want to wish my daughter Rachael a Happy 15th Birthday! And where does she get to spend her special day? At school then at a cheer dinner for her sister and other girls she coaches. Each year, the kids usually plan their own dinner menu and I make whatever it is they want. She wants me to make Country Chicken (I'll upload a better picture after Thursday!) with some rice, a salad and an ice cream cake.  So due to this cheer dinner (and the fact that my husband is MIA on a business trip until later tonight),  we're going to have to move it out one day but wanted her to know how special she is and how much she is loved every day. xo

And now for today's recipe...Do you have a certain meal you only make every now and then or only on special occasions? Well, the only time I seem to make Beef Stew is the day after Thanksgiving. Early on in my marriage, we lived in a townhouse and we decided to splurge and buy an artificial Christmas tree. Mainly because the first year we were there, we were cleaning up pine needles well into the middle of February due to the heating vents. Anyway, since we didn't have to worry about our tree drying out, we started to decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving and I decided to make a beef stew for dinner. This way, we could spend the hours it took to put up all of the decorations and when we were done, dinner would be all ready for us. Maybe it's because after so much poultry, I just craved beef. I don't really know but I guess it took about 3 years of doing this to realize that it had become a habit or tradition. So, here we are, 16 years later and I once again, made this stew the day after Thanksgiving. And, since we're waiting a week to put up the decorations, I think I make it to have something else other than poultry! This meal takes about 20 minutes to prepare, then just let it cook and do it's thing. I serve it over egg noodles but you could also use rice if you prefer that instead. 

Beef Stew
3 1/2 lb. Beef Bottom Round Roast (or Beef Cubes)
1/4 c. All Purpose Flour
2 tbsp. Canola Oil
2 c. Carrots, chopped
1/2 c. Spanish Onion, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, minced
3 Stalks Celery, chopped
1/2 c.  Chianti Wine
1 tbsp. Fresh Rosemary, chopped
1 Sprig Fresh Thyme
3 1/2 c. Low-Sodium Beef Broth
4 Medium Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Cut the beef into 1" cubes, then coat with flour. Add oil to a Dutch oven or large pot and add beef. Brown meat on all sides, remove then set aside. In the same pot, add the carrots, onion, garlic, celery and rosemary and saute for approximately  5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bits from bottom of the pot, then add in the beef broth. Next, add the beef. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat. Let simmer for 2 hours, stirring every 20-25 minutes. Add in the potatoes and let simmer for another hour. Season with salt and pepper and serve over egg noodles or rice. Serves 10. 

Points+=9 (not including the egg noodles or rice)

Also, if you haven't noticed, I added a poll to the page this week. I'm curious to know what time of day most of you actually read blog posts or go online for that matter. So if  you wouldn't mind, cast your vote so that I can plan my posts so that it is more convenient for all of you~Thank you! <3


Monday, November 28, 2011

Tomato, Basil & Feta Meatloaf

Cooking in this house is all about seeing what I happen to have laying around at that particular moment and using up the odds and ends so that it doesn't go to waste. The day I made this meatloaf, I did just that. It was very flavorful and came out perfectly moist. I also prefer to use ground beef vs. the beef, pork, veal mixture since I don't care for veal. 

Tomato, Basil & Feta Meatloaf
1 lb. Ground Beef (85%/15% lean)
1/2 c. Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. Plum Tomatoes, sliced
2 tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, chopped
3 oz. Crumbled Feta
1/4 c. Panko
1 Egg
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well blended. Form into a rectangular shape and place in an oven safe dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until the meat has reached the proper internal temperature. Serves 4-6. 

Points+=4 per slice


Scallion & Asiago Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

On Sundays, we generally eat a late breakfast, then whatever it is we have planned for the day, we like to be home by 3pm so that we can eat some apps, have a glass of wine and just unwind from the week and TRY to relax a little before the new chaos starts the next day. Last Sunday, I had some mushrooms and wanted to try out something new so I just chopped up the stems in my mini food processor, added some scallions and cheese and stuffed the mixture back in. The were great in a pinch and made a nice afternoon snack. 

Scallion & Asiago Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
1 pkg. 10oz. Mushrooms (I had 15 in my package)
1 Scallion, chopped
3 tbsp. Asiago Cheese
3 tbsp. Panko Breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. Canola Oil

Rinse the mushrooms to clean off any dirt, then remove stems and add to a mini chopper so that they are finely chopped. In a bowl, add the mushrooms, scallions, cheese, breadcrumbs and oil. Mix well then stuff into the mushroom cap. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then broil for 5 minutes. Makes 15. 

Points+=1 per mushroom


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fettucine with Asiago Cream Sauce

Now, for those of you watching your WW points, this one I didn't even bother to calculate because I was afraid to find out how many it would be. I certainly didn't make this the "lightened" version, as my kids and 18 yr. old nephew were going to eat it. (I went out to dinner and ate some incredible Fontina Stuffed Ravioli with a Butter Sage Sauce, which was probably no better!) But there are some things you just have to make and enjoy and this is one of them. 

Fettucine with Asiago Cream Sauce
2 lb. Fettucine
1 tbsp. Butter
1 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
3 c. Heavy Cream
3/4 c. Asiago Cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Parsley, garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and then put back in the pot. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a medium saucepan then add flour, forming a roux. Gradually whisk in the heavy cream until the roux dissolved, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and whisk in the cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper until the cheese has melted. Let simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, approximately 5 minutes. Add the sauce to the cooked pasta and mix well. Garnish with parsley. 

Serves 8. 


Friday, November 25, 2011

Rotini with Chicken & Spinach

This pasta makes a great, quick dinner idea when you don't have a lot of time to prepare a meal. I used leftover chicken and spinach that I had already cooked but you could also saute some uncooked chicken in a non stick pan. I just love the combination of spinach and mushrooms and the wine gave this dish a nice flavor. 

Rotini with Chicken & Spinach
1 lb. Rotini Pasta
8oz. Cooked Chicken, chopped
1/4 c. Red Onion, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
2 c. Mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp. Fresh Basil
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 c. Frozen Chopped Spinach, defrosted
1 c. White Wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
4 oz. Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated

Cook pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Add your onions, garlic and basil and saute for 2-3 minutes. Next, add in the cooked chicken, spinach and wine and mix together. Add in the cooked pasta and cheese and mix well. Serves 6. 



Top Ten Tips for Feeding Pets Thanksgiving Leftovers

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! All of that preparation and time that goes into creating one meal and POOF! Done, just like that! Now what to do with all of those leftovers? Here are some tips from

Be Prepared When Your Pet Comes Begging

Your dog or cat will inevitably be begging to partake in the big turkey dinner. When polled, 56 percent of petMD readers admitted to sharing Thanksgiving table scraps with their pets. While this can be a wonderful way to add lean protein and fresh veggies to your pet’s diet, there are also hidden dangers in holiday fare. This year, before you go preparing a heaping plateful for your pet, consider these ten tips to keep Thanksgiving a safe, healthful holiday for your dog or cat.

#10 Yes to Turkey

Turkey can be a wonderful lean protein to share with your pet. You will just want to be sure to remove any excess skin or fat, stick with white meat, and make sure there are no bones.

#9 No to Alliums

Nothing with alliums (i.e., onions, garlic, leeks, scallions) should be ingested by your pet. While it is true that small, well-cooked portions of these foods can be okay if your pet is used to it, ingesting these foods in large quantities can lead to toxic anemia.

#8 Yes to Mashed Potatoes
Potatoes are a great, filling vegetable to share with your pet. However even though the potatoes themselves are not harmful to pets, be aware of additional ingredients used to make mashed potatoes. Cheese, sour cream, butter, onions, and gravies are no-no’s in a pet’s diet.

#7 No to Grapes
Many people are unaware that grapes, and subsequently raisins, can be toxic to pets. The fruit has been shown to cause kidney failure in dogs.

#6 Yes to Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is just fine for pets but watch the amount of sugar in it. It is probably best to only provide a small helping to your pet’s plate.

#5 No to Xylitol
While you may be making the healthier choice by cooking with artificial sweeteners over the real thing, sweeteners containing Xylitol are poisonous to animals, and potentially deadly to dogs.

#4 Yes to Macaroni and Cheese

If you know your pet’s stomach handles dairy alright, macaroni and cheese is a safe leftover to share. If you are unsure though, it may be best to just give plain macaroni. Cats often develop lactose intolerance when they become adults.

#3 No to Chocolate
Chocolate is a well known off limits indulgence for pets. During the holidays however, baking chocolate is used in recipes and sometimes forgotten about by the time the dishes hit the table. Make sure this holiday season that your pet does not ingest any chocolate, especially the baking kind.

#2 Yes to Green Beans
Plain green beans are a wonderful treat for pets. Fresh vegetables are a great addition to any diet. If the green beans are included in a green bean casserole though, be conscious of the other ingredients in it.

#1 No to Alcohol
Alcohol is definitely a big no for pets. What we people may consider a small amount can be toxic for a smaller animal. Also, keep in mind that alcohol poisoning can occur in pets from atypical items like fruit cake (the recipe may have called for rum or other liquor), as well as unbaked bread.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sun Dried Tomato & Asiago Cheese Turkey Burgers

Well, today is officially Thanksgiving and I have so much to be thankful for this year. I have a wonderful family and support system that is there for me whenever and wherever (and I hope I'm there just as much for them!). I have my health, which in past years has been a little sketchy and also known by some as "The Farias Curse".  I have a roof over my head(even if we loose heat and electric once in a and I get to do what I love best every single day...experimenting in my kitchen and sharing my passion with each of you. You truly are amazing and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading what I have to say each day here in my little corner of this vast foodie universe. :)

So, since I'm a little busy cooking our Thanksgiving feast today, I figured I'd at least share with you one of my recent creations. Hey, at least it's turkey-something! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sun Dried Tomato & Asiago Cheese Turkey Burgers
1 lb. 99% Fat Free Ground Turkey
1/2 c. Asiago Cheese, shredded
1/4 c. Scallions, chopped
1/4 c. Sun Dried Tomatoes, not packed in oil
1 tsp. Fresh Rosemary, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 tbsp. Canola Oil

Mix all ingredients together until well blended and form into four patties. Grill for 3-5 minutes per side or until internal temperature is at least 165 degrees. Makes 4. 


Now go and watch the parade....Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Eggnog Banana Muffin Tops

This time of year, when strolling through the supermarket isles, you will find that eggnog has already graced the shelves. I'm the only one in my house that likes eggnog and it has to be ice cold when I drink it. I love the creaminess of it, which is odd because I don't even drink milk by itself...but I digress. I usually buy myself a small container, have my one small glass (and by small I literally mean 4oz) and then I'm done until the next year. Craving gone. I was about to make some banana muffins when I decided to add some of the eggnog to the batter so it wouldn't go to waste.  I also tried to "lighten" it up a bit by using applesauce and agave syrup in place of oil and the extra sugar. It worked and they were super moist. Just put them in a resealable plastic freezer bag and pull out just what you need that morning. In 10 minutes, they're defrosted and you have the perfect breakfast on the go! 

Eggnog Banana Muffin Tops
3 c. All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 c. Granulated Sugar
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
4 Overripe Bananas
1 c. Eggnog
1/2 c. Applesauce
1 Egg
1/4 c. Agave Syrup
Canola Oil Cooking Spray

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon. Add bananas and eggnog to a blender and blend until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and add the banana mixture, applesauce and agave syrup until well blended. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Spray a muffin top pan with cooking spray and fill 3/4 of the way with the batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top springs back when touched. Makes 16 muffin tops. 



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Carrie's Thanksgiving Day Menu

Well, here it is. I finally decided what I was going to make for Thanksgiving. Even though we're I'm only cooking for 13 people, I couldn't decide which items to have so I'm just going to make smaller servings of EVERYTHING! We start around 1pm then go all day long, as I'm sure most of you do as well. Just space it out to give yourself time to digest in between. 

Shrimp Cocktail
Cranberry Stuffed Mushrooms
Garlic and Herb Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms (my daughter's favorite)
Sausage & Apple Bread
Baked Brie with Cranberries & Walnuts (new recipe to follow)

Main Course
Cream of Sweet Potato and Sage Soup
Tarragon and Lemon Roasted Turkey
Portuguese Stuffing (my Mother in Law is bringing this so I'll have to get the recipe)
Stove Top Stuffing (yes, from a's the only kind my Sister in Law likes)
Crown Royal Mashed Sweet Potato Casserole (same potato recipe but you put it in an oven dish lined with toasted pecans)
Mashed Potatoes
French Green Bean Casserole
Herb Creamed Spinach (I'm just going to leave out the mushrooms)
Tossed Salad
Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce 
Italian Dinner Rolls (from my favorite local bakery Calandras)

Blueberry Crumb Pie 
Apple Pie
White Chocolate Bailey's Irish Cream Cheesecake (recipe to follow)
(I'm the only one who likes pumpkin so we're skipping it this year) 

Now I better run to go start making some of these things or we'll have nothing! 

Chicken Parmesan

As much as my kids enjoy trying all of my daily experiments, my oldest daughter hasn't been feeling well and wanted what she calls "normal" food for dinner the other night. To her, that means breaded chicken cutlets with bruschetta on top. I didn't have enough tomatoes on hand, so I asked them if Chicken Parmesan would be ok and they agreed.n Believe it or not, I can honestly say this was only about the third time I've made it in the last 15 years. I don't know why, it is very good, but when I'm in the mood for anything parmesan, it's going to be my eggplant! 

Chicken Parmesan
1 1/2 lb. Boneless Chicken Breasts, sliced horizontally and pounded into 3oz. portions
1 c. All-Purpose Flour
Egg Wash=2 Eggs + 1 tbsp. 2% Milk
1 c. Italian Flavored Breadcrumbs
1/2-3/4 c. Canola Oil, for frying
3 c. Prepared Marinara Sauce
1 1/2 c. Part Skim Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

After slicing the chicken, you should have approximately 9 pieces. Prepare three separate bowls. One for the flour. One for the egg wash. One for the breadcrumbs. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add the oil. Next, dip the chicken into the flour, then the egg wash then into the breadcrumbs. Repeat until all pieces are coated. Add the breaded chicken to the pan and cook on both sides until well browned. Drain on paper towels or paper bags to remove excess oil; repeat for all pieces. Add a ladle full of sauce to the bottom of an oven safe dish (approx. 9x13) and add the chicken. Top each piece with sauce, then the cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until cheese has melted. Serves 9. 

(Oil based on 1/2 c. though you might need more to fry, there will be some leftover)


Monday, November 21, 2011

Basil Lime Pecan Pesto Stuffed Pork Chops

I had purchased quite a large bunch of basil and honestly forgot I had it when I saw it all hiding in my refrigerator. Usually, when I get that much, I rinse it off, let it dry then freeze it. So when I took pork chops out for dinner this particular day, I wasn't sure what I was going to make with them but knew it would include something with basil. And...apparently lime since my daughter cut off a piece of one the night before then left it unwrapped. I was also running out of eggs, so I used up my liquid egg whites but you can certainly use whole eggs if you prefer. I decided to make a pesto out of these ingredients. I have to say that these pork chops, though it may seem a little odd eating green food, tasted incredible. They had a citrusy tang but the pecans also gave it a bit of sweetness. 

Basil Lime Pecan Pesto Stuffed Pork Chops
4 Center Cut Boneless Pork Chops
4 tbsp. Prepared Basil Lime Pecan Pesto(see below)
1/2 c. Liquid Egg Whites
1 c. Panko Breadcrumbs
Canola Oil Cooking Spray

Trim any visible fat from the meat and make a slice horizontally in the center of the pork chop; careful not to cut all the way through. Spread 1 tbsp. of the pesto into each pork chop, stuffing it in to the open slit. Next, dip your meat into egg whites,  then into the breadcrumbs. Place a rack on a baking sheet and add your breaded pork chops. Spray with cooking spray and bake at 350°F for approximately 35-40 minutes (depending on the thickness of your pork chops). Serves 4.

Basil Lime Pecan Pesto
1 1/2 c. Basil, tightly packed
1 Lime, zest and juice
1/4 c. Pecans
1/2 c. DiGiorno Three Cheese Blend (Parmesan, Asiago and Romano), shredded
1/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Add all ingredients in to a food processor and pulse until well blended. Makes 8 tbsp. 
1 tbsp Pesto=3 Points+


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lime & Cilantro Roasted Cauliflower

Can you tell the them of last week's menu items yet? Yes, it's lime and cilantro...again. I did, however, make this delicious cauliflower the same night I made the chicken thighs so this dish complemented my meal very well. I love roasting cauliflower, it gives it such a great flavor and for me, allows me to eat it as I won't any other way! 

Lime & Cilantro Roasted Cauliflower
1 Large Head of Cauliflower, core removed and florets cut and rinsed under cold water
1 tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1/2 Lime, zest and juice
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
3 tbsp. Canola Oil
1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Add all ingredients in to a bowl and mix well until all of the cauliflower has been coated. Place in a 9"x9" baking dish and bake at 400°F for 45 minutes, turning occasionally.  Serves 6. 



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chicken Thighs in a Lime Cilantro Wine Sauce

When I went food shopping last week, they had a sale on limes, 6 for $2, so I figured I'd find a way to use them up before they went bad. I wanted to make some chicken thighs in my Dutch oven again (everything tastes AMAZING in this thing!) and also had some cilantro left in the freezer so it seemed like the perfect combination. 

According to Nutrition and You, cilantro has many health benefits including:

  • Cilantro herb contains no cholesterol; but is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fiber which help reduce LDL or "bad cholesterol" while increasing HDL or "good cholesterol" levels.
  • The leaves and seeds contain many essential volatile oils.
  • The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is essential for red blood cell production. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.
  • It is also rich in many vital vitamins including folic-acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-A, beta carotene, vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant. Cilantro leaves provides 30% of daily recommended levels of vitamin-C.
  • It provides 6748 IU of vitamin-A per 100 g, about 225% of recommended daily intake. Vitamin-A, an important fat soluble vitamin and anti-oxidant, is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is also essential for vision. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin-A and flavonoids (carotenes) helps body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • Cilantro is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K. Vitamin-K has potential role in bone mass building by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. It also has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.
  • The coriander seeds oil have found application in many traditional medicines as analgesic, aphrodisiac, anti-spasmodic, deodorant, digestive, carminative, fungicidal, lipolytic (weight loss), stimulant and stomachic.

    Ok, I'm done with the history lesson on cilantro now! :)  But really, this dish was delicious and extremely light and flavorful. 
Chicken Thighs in a Lime Cilantro Wine Sauce
4 Chicken Thighs, skin removed
2 tbsp. Canola Oil
1 c. White Wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
3 tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 Lime, zest and juice
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 c. Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
2 tbsp. Cornstarch + 2 tbsp. Cold Water, to thicken sauce
Parsley, garnish

Heat a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. Add the chicken and lightly brown on both sides (approx. 15 minutes). Add the wine, cilantro, lime zest and juice, garlic powder and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat then let simmer for 45-50 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside. Thicken the sauce with the cornstarch and water then add back in the chicken and simmer for another 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley. Serves 4. 



Friday, November 18, 2011

Chicken & Spinach Balsamic Risotto

Since I finally used up that Vanilla Fig Balsamic Vinegar, I wanted to find a new kind of vinegar to experiment with and happened across one with Pear Pulp. I happened to make this dish on Monday night, which coincidentally happened to be Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day...and that I did! I had two pieces of chicken, a partial bag of fresh spinach, a few scallions, a little rosemary and Voila..dinner! This meal was so delicious and the girls and I really loved the flavor of this vinegar in this risotto. 

Chicken & Spinach Balsamic Risotto
2 c. Cooked Chicken Breast, chopped
2 c. Fresh Spinach, stems removed and roughly chopped
6 Mushrooms, sliced
1/4 c. Scallions, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, chopped
1 tsp. Fresh Rosemary, chopped
2 Plum Tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tbsp. Rienzi® Balsamic Vinegar with Pear Pulp
1 1/3 c. Arborio Rice
2 c. Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 1/2 c. Water
1/4 c. DiGiorno® Three Cheese Blend (Asiago, Parmesan & Romano grated cheese)
1 tbsp. Butter

Heat oil in a large, nonstick frying pan and add the chicken, spinach, mushrooms, scallions, garlic, and rosemary. Simmer 5 minutes until the spinach starts to wilt and the mushrooms soften. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, add the rice, vinegar and 1 cup of the chicken broth. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until the liquid has evaporated. Add the remaining liquid one cup at a time, first the chicken broth and then the water, and simmer until that liquid has evaporated. On the last 1/2 cup of water, add back in your chicken, vegetables, tomatoes, cheese and butter. Stir until well blended and the butter has melted. Makes 6, 1-cup servings. 


Here is the information from Rienzi's website: 
Fruttati Pear 8.5oz
This unique blend is created by using the tradition that unites the prestigious Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and fresh fruits. The Fruttato with pear is the result of a slow cooking procedure where the balsamic vinegar is mixed with the pulp of pears grown in the Trentino region of Northern Italy. This high quality blend is a culinary classic and it adds a unique flavor to dishes such as Almond chicken, or as a dressing on string beans.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cherry Almond Biscotti

This past Saturday, I had to make some items for a bake sale and wanted to try out a new variation of biscotti. That, and I was cleaning out my pantry and came across some dried cherries and a partial bag of slivered almonds (which ironically enough I had just enough to make this batch!). These were INCREDIBLE! I love the flavor combination of cherries and almonds and my hubby actually wound up buying some himself since I wouldn't let him eat any of them at home. :)

Cherry Almond Biscotti
2 c. All-Purpose Flour
1 c. Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Almond Extract
3 Eggs
1/2 c. Dried Cherries, chopped
1/2 c. Slivered Almonds

In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and almond extract. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix well until all of the ingredients have been incorporated.  Next, fold in the cherries and almonds. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is no longer sticky, then form into a 12” long log shape and flatten down so that it is no higher than 1”. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, add the dough and bake at 325° F for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool, then slice diagonally into ½ “ slices and put them back on the baking sheet. Bake an additional 10 minutes per side and 
remove from oven. Let cool and allow to harden before serving. Makes 2 dz.

Points+=3 per Biscotti


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vanilla Fig Balsamic Marinated London Broil

Many people use their outdoor grill year-round, but unfortunately for us here in the northeast, it just gets too cold. Usually by mid-December my deck has at least a foot of snow on it, which is where we keep our grill. So a few weeks ago I decided to make one last london broil on a nice day to use up what gas I had left in the tank. I was also trying to clean out my pantry and came across some of that Vanilla Fig Balsamic Vinegar I had purchased a few months back. This vinegar was great and I did use it in quite a few recipes so I decided to finish up the bottle with this marinade. The combination with the thyme and wine made this a tasty marinade and the meat was extremely tender. 

Vanilla Fig Balsamic Marinated London Broil
1 1/2-2 lb. Top Round London Broil
1/4 c. Vanilla Fig Balsamic Vinegar (you can use regular if you don't have this type)
1/4 c. Pinot Grigio (or any other white wine)
1/2 c. Canola Oil
1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp. Fresh Thyme
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until well blended. Add the beef to a large, resealable plastic bag and add the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, then grill until desired doneness. Serves 6. 

Points+=1 per oz. of beef + add 3 points for the marinade (marinade assumes it would be enough for 10 servings)


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cranberry Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Thanksgiving is almost upon us and I still haven't fully planned my Turkey Day menu yet. We generally like traditional foods on this day...turkey, mashed potatoes, and the old standby, green bean casserole (still my favorite and even better the next day heating it to scalding hot temperatures in the microwave!) but I always like to make 1 or 2 (or 3 or 4 depending on my energy level that week) new items so I mostly get play with some new appetizers. While grocery shopping last week, they were having a sale on baby portabella mushrooms. (Did I mention we love mushrooms?) Anyway, I had an idea I wanted to try out before the holidays so I picked some up and tried this experiment out on my guinea pigs (a.k.a. hubby, kids and in-laws). I loved the addition of the cranberries in this recipe. Not only did they give it a nice contrasting color but they added just a hint of sweetness to the woodsy flavors of the mushrooms and rosemary. A definite keeper and one that I will be making again this Thanksgiving. 

Cranberry Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms
1-10oz. Package Baby Portabella Mushrooms
1/4 c. Scallions, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Fresh Rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Dried Cranberries (like Craisins®)
2 oz. Light Cream Cheese
1/2 c. Panko Breadcrumbs
Canola Oil Cooking Spray

Gently wash off mushrooms with a damp cloth, remove stems and finely chop. Heat oil in a frying pan and add the mushrooms, scallions, garlic and rosemary and saute for 5 minutes. Add in the cream cheese and mix until the cheese has melted and is well blended. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. In a bowl, add the breadcrumbs, cranberries and mushroom mixture. Mix well and using a small spoon, fill each mushroom cap with the stuffing and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 18-20 minutes until the mushrooms are slightly brown. Makes 15-18 mushrooms(depends on the size within the package). 

Points+=1 per mushroom


Monday, November 14, 2011

Tequila Lime Marinated Chicken Quesadillas

A few Sunday's ago, I made a roast beef for dinner. Nothing special. Just seasoned it with some salt, pepper and garlic powder. But it was entirely too much meat for the four of us. I knew it would be but I was ok with that because the hubby didn't get much of my Beef Barley Soup when I made it last time. So for dinner that next week, I made some of the soup, to use up my leftover beef, and also made some quesadillas since I had some of that Colby Jack shredded cheese leftover as well from when I made that Chorizo, Peas & Colby Jack Risotto. If you can't tell by now, I was in a 'clean out the fridge' kind of mood...little did I know I would have to completely empty my refrigerator the next week due to our power outage. I wanted to throw some chicken into it so I defrosted 2 large boneless chicken breasts, sliced them in half horizontally, then marinated them in the Tequila Lime Marinade I made back in June. I let the chicken marinate for about 4 hours, grilled them on my indoor grill pan, then sliced them into thin strips. I also had one plum tomato left and 1/2 of a jalepeno pepper so I made a little bit of my Fresh Garden Salsa to go with it...Delish! This was the perfect quick meal for a cold, rainy night. 

Tequila Lime Marinated Chicken Quesadillas
4 Whole Wheat Tortillas (you can use whichever kind you like)
2 oz. Tequila Lime Marinated Chicken, cooked and thinly sliced
4 oz. Shredded Low Fat Colby Jack Cheese

Lay tortilla out on a flat surface and place one whole piece of sliced chicken on half of the tortilla. Then, cover with 1 oz. of the cheese. Fold down the other half of the tortilla and repeat the process for the other three. Place them on a baking sheet and cook in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes; until the cheese has melted. Cut in half and garnish with sour cream, salsa and/or guacamole Serves 2-4. 

Weight Watchers Points+ Value Per Serving = 7 (without the sour cream or guacamole)