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Archive for July, 2009

baked-zucchini-sticks-5

As soon as I laid eyes on that massive zucchini, I started Gooling zucchini recipes. This was one of the first ones I found, and I knew right away that I’d love it. This is a great healthy alternative to mozarella sticks. I didn’t have any marinara sauce on hand to dip them in, but I plan on buying some and making these again!

I loved these – but Stas hated them… I ended up eating all of mine, PLUS his.

But in all fairness, he doesn’t care much for zucchini to begin with.

Baked Zucchini Sticks

  • equivalent of 3 medium zucchini, sliced into 3″ x 1/2″ sticks
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or whatever cheese you have on hand)
  • cooking spray (or parchment paper)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt
  • fresh pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl, beat egg whites and season with salt and pepper. In a ziplock bag, place breadcrumbs, garlic powder, and cheese; shake well. Cove cookie sheet with parchment paper (or spray cookie sheet with cooking spray) and set aside.

baked-zucchini-sticks-2

zucchini slices

baked-zucchini-sticks-1

breadcrumbs and egg white

3. Dip zucchini sticks into eggs then into bread crumb and cheese mixture, a few at a time and shake to coat. Place the breaded zucchini in a single layer on parchment paper (optional: spray cooking spray on top).

zucchini sticks pre-baking

zucchini sticks pre-baking

4. Bake at 425 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

baked-zucchini-sticks-6

baked zucchini sticks, plated

Serves 3

Here is the breakdown of Weight Watchers points:
zucchini = 0
1 egg white = 0
1/3 cup bread crumbs = 2
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese = 2

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I hope you like zucchini.

Why?

Take a look at the treat I got from a coworker this week:

one very big zucchini

one very big zucchini

I stuck my sunglasses on it for scale – but I still don’t think it captures the massiveness.

I thought I’d be able to use it up quickly, but now I have my doubts. I’ve made three things with it so far (posts to come) and it’s not even 1/3 of the way gone!

Luckily, I found this post on how to freeze zucchini. I’ll probably end up going that route.

In the meantime, stay tuned as I go zucchini-crazy…

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porcini-dusted-chicken

I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for awhile, and I’m not sure why I hadn’t made it previously – but I’m glad I finally did! It was so good – definitely a keeper!

And the best test of how good it was? Stas liked it – even with the mushroom sauce. Actually, that was his favorite part!

This recipe uses dried mushrooms. Dried mushrooms are readily available in most supermarkets. You’ll find them in the produce department. If you don’t see them, ask an employee.

Porcini-Dusted Chicken Scaloppine
from Cooking Light, October 2007

  • 1/2  cup  dried porcini mushrooms (about 1/2 ounce)
  • 4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil, divided
  • 2  tablespoons  minced shallots (about 1)
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 3  cups  sliced wild or cultivated mushrooms (about 1/2 pound…  I used baby bella mushrooms)
  • 1/2  cup  dry white wine
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 3  tablespoons  reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1  tablespoon  minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Place porcini mushrooms in a spice or coffee grinder; process until finely ground. Transfer to a large plate and set aside.

2. Place a layer of plastic wrap over the chicken breasts and pound them to even thickness using a meat mallet. Sprinkle chicken pieces with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Then dredge them in the porcini powder, shaking off the excess.

covering the chicken breasts in porcini powder

covering the chicken breasts in porcini powder

3. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces to pan; cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until chicken is lightly browned and done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

cover with foil to keep warm

cover with foil to keep warm

4. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.

cooking the shallots and garlic

cooking the shallots and garlic

5. Add 3 cups mushrooms; cook 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally.

after adding the mushrooms to the pan

after adding the mushrooms to the pan

6. Stir in wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Increase heat to medium-high; cook 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Add broth to pan; simmer until liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes).

reduce the liquids

reduce the liquids

7. Stir in sour cream; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and parsley.

after adding final ingredients

after adding final ingredients

Serves 4

(Each serving is 6 Weight Watchers points.)

I served it with boiled potatoes garnished with chives and fresh tomatoes. For wine, I used the same wine I used in cooking… my current favorite, Nobilo 2008 Sauvignon Blanc:

plated and served

plated and served

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Shortly after my zebra nails started chipping, I did this:

leopard_nails

leopard nail design using Konad

Again, I used my Konad nail stamping kit, purchased here.

I’m happy with how they came out – and even though I can never get enough leopard print, I think I like the zebra more!

leopard_nails_2

another view of my leopard nails

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gift_table

On Saturday, July 11, my mom and bridesmaids threw me a bridal shower. I woke up at 5am that day, filled with excitement and anticipation. I knew it would be a great day, but everything blew me away – it was above and beyond anything I could’ve imagined!

My Maid of Honor, Amy (best friends since 6th grade!) and her roomate, Elspeth, picked me up at 9:45am. Before arriving at the shower, Elspeth dropped us off at The Spa at Capron Falls for pedicures. It felt soooooo good to be pampered, and it was fun to spend some alone time with Amy.

Elspeth picked us up around 12:45 and it was off to the shower at my parents’ house!

wedding_shower_jessica2

the bride-to-be (me)

(I was excited about my dress – it was 50% off at Karen Millen – a new favorite store. I found it surprisingly difficult to find an all-white dress)

The yard looked great – there was a band playing Beatles songs and an hors d’oeuvre table by the pool.

the band

the band

hors d'oeuvre table (later the dessert table)

hors d'oeuvre table (later the dessert table)

In another area, there was a gift table large white tent with tables set up. The tables had beautiful centerpieces designed and made by my sister, Erica:

wedding_shower_centerpiece

the centerpieces

The shower was catered by Peppercorns and they did an amazing job. We had a delicious hors d’oeuvre table with fresh fruits, veggies, pita chips, all sorts of dips, and lots and lots of CHEESE! (I love cheese!!!)

Lunch was a chicken salad, fresh breadsticks, and shrimp over seaweed salad (another one of my favorites).

Dessert was a “Venetian dessert table”, with cheesecake, macaroons, mini-tarts, etc. I had my very first macaron (not to be confused with ‘macaroons’) and it was sooooo good.

The most uncomfortable part of the day was opening presents. I love getting presents (who doesn’t?!), but I don’t like being stared at as I open them – and I had quite a large audience.

Here’s my Maid of Honor, very focused on my ribbon bouquet (she brought it home to work on it – I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!)

wedding_shower_opening_gifts

me and my Maid of Honor

(For anyone unfamiliar with this, it is a tradition to save all of the ribbons and bows from the wedding shower and create a bouquet to use at the wedding rehearsal.)

We recieved so many great gifts – our entire set of dishes, glasses, cookware, bakeware, knives, kitchen gadgets. I had quite the time on Sunday re-arranging our kitchen to fit everything. One of the best parts is that we now have enough plates to start using the dishwasher! And we can have dinner parties without mis-matched plates!

The favors were handmade soaps – also designed by my sister:

wedding_shower_favor

the favors

Have you noticed the bird theme? My future new last name means ‘bullfinch’ in Russian, so it’s one of the wedding themes.

My final surprise of the day was one of the best… look who showed up to bring me home :

wedding_shower_stan_and_jessica

Stas!

Yes, that’s the handsome groom-to-be 🙂 He cut his day of skydiving short just to come pick me up and drive me back to our house!

wedding_shower_jessica

cheers to a perfect day!

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chicken-walnut-sauce-1

I’ve been up since 5am – way too excited for my bridal shower today…

What a perfect time to (finally!) update my blog!

I actually made this dish a few weeks ago, but never posted about it. It’s amazing how quickly the days fly by when you’re trying to plan a wedding! It’s less than 2 months away now – I’m beyond excited, but a little stressed out by my list of still-to-do’s.

Stas didn’t like this dish. I’ve mentioned before that he generally doesn’t like sauces, and this time was no exception. He ended up scraping it all off, much to my dismay!

I loved it, though! It was filling, yet light. Since the sauce is bread-thickened, it tastes and feels a lot more fattening than it really is  (it tastes cream-thickened).

deliciously thick (and light!) sauce

deliciously thick (and light!) sauce

You could also use this sauce as a pasta sauce, to change this into a vegetarian dish!

chicken-walnut-sauce-close

delicious

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Creamy Walnut Sauce
from Cooking Light, May 2006

  • 2 (1 1/2 ounce) slices day-old white bread
  • 1 cup fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 /3 cup walnuts, toasted (the toasting is optional)
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • parsley, to garnish

1. Remove crusts from bread. Chop bread and combine it with the broth in a small bowl; let stand for 10 minutes.

Combine bread mixture, walnuts, parsley leaves, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, red pepper, and garlic in a food processor; process until smooth.

walnut-sauce

walnut sauce

2. Sprinkle chicken with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

3. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 7 minutes on each side, or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

chicken-browned

browned chicken

4. Add chicken broth mixture to pan; cook until hot and slightly thickened, scraping pan with a wooden spoon (don’t use metal – you’ll ruin the pan!) to loosen browned bits.

5. To serve, plate the chicken breast and top each with about 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

plated chicken

plated chicken

Serves 6

(1 serving = 6 Weight Watchers points)

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