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Archive for the ‘dinner’ Category

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it yet, but my husband (Stan) and his friend/coworker Mayur are going to Everest in the Spring. They will trek to North Col, at 23k feet. It is no small trip – it will take a whole month to complete!

One of their preparations involves gaining weight – 15-20lbs each! A couple weeks ago, we had Mayur over for dinner and I cooked the men a calorie-packed feast of hearty chicken parmigiana and spaghetti.

The recipe comes from “Tyler’s Ultimate” on the Food Network. The show is what it sounds – Tyler Florence travels the country, tastes variations of the same dish, picks out the best elements from each, and then assembles the “ultimate” recipe.

This dish required a good amount of preparation and ingredients. But the guys liked it, so I think it was well worth it. (Even Stan really liked it, and he’s usually not a fan of chicken parm!)

Chicken Parmigiana
from Tyler’s Ultimate

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
  • Pinch sugar
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound spaghetti pasta, cooked al dente

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Coat a saute pan with olive oil and place over medium heat. When the oil gets hazy, add the onions, garlic, and bay leaves; cook and stir for 5 minutes until fragrant and soft.

chicken-parm-start

cooking the onions, garlic, and bay leaves

3. Add the olives and some hand-torn basil, reserve the rest of the basil for finishing the chicken. Carefully add the tomatoes (nothing splashes like tomatoes), cook and stir until the liquid is cooked down and the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes; season with sugar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Lower the heat, cover, and keep warm.

chicken-parm-sauce

the finished sauce - keep warm!

4. Get the ingredients together for the chicken so you have a little assembly line. Put the flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, combine the eggs and water, beat until frothy. Put the bread crumbs on a plate, add the 1 cup parmesan, chopped parsley, and garlic powder Season with salt and pepper and stir with a fork until thoroughly combined.

5. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high flame in a large oven-proof skillet. Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off, then dredge in the bread crumbs. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once.

6. Ladle the tomato-olive sauce over the chicken and arrange the mozzarella on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan, and remaining basil. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve hot with spaghetti.

right out of the oven

serves 4

Each serving has roughly 900 calories… so it’s not diet-friendly!!!

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Before making this dish, I had never cooked or eaten polenta. Honestly, I had no desire – I thought it was a boring vegetarian food, high in calories in carbs. It is vegetarian, and it is high in carbs… but it’s not as high in calories as I previously thought, and it doesn’t have to be boring! It’s one of those wonderful foods with endless possibilities – it can take on multiple flavors, and even textures! Immediately after cooking, it has a mashed potato-like consistency. But place it in a baking dish in your refrigerator for a few hours and you’ll get something resembling yellow brownies.

If you’ve never tried polenta – you need to! I loved this dish and polenta has become a new pantry staple for me.

And for those of you wondering, “WTF is polenta?”… it’s just cornmeal!

(You’ll need to plan ahead and prepare the polenta either in the morning or the day before)

Polenta Wedges with Asparagus and Mushrooms
adapted from Everyday Food, January/February 2010

1 cup instant polenta
4 cups water
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
coarse salt and ground black pepper
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 pound asparagus, trimmed

To make the polenta:

Bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Gradually pour in 1 cup instant polenta, stirring continuously for about 3 minutes. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight – you can even do it days in advance. (To boost the flavor of your polenta, you may use milk or chicken broth – or both – instead of salted water. The original recipe used a combination – try 1 cup skim milk + 3 cups chicken broth)

prepared polenta

Once the polenta is ready:

1. Heat broiler and position the rack 5 inches from the heat. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add broth and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in milk and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

starting to cook the mushrooms

2. Place a rimmed baking sheet in oven to heat. Slice polenta into wedges; pat dry with a paper towel and spray with cooking spray. Spray asparagus with cooking spray.

preparing the polenta and asparagus

3. Carefully remove hot baking sheet from oven. Place asparagus on one half and place polenta on the other. Season  both with salt and pepper.

before going into the oven

4. Broil until polenta is golden brown and asparagus is crisp-tender, about 6 minutes, rotating sheet and tossing asparagus about halfway through.

5. Serve polenta wedges with asparagus and mushrooms.

finished dish

Serves 4

1 serving = 4 Weight Watchers points

calories:224
fat: 4.5g (0.9g sat)
carbs: 39.1g
fiber: 4.5g
sugar: 4.8g
protein: 9.5g

That was way too vegetarian and low-calorie for Stas, so I didn’t make him eat it. Instead, I took a portion of the prepared polenta and pan-fried it in vegetable oil. I served it with sliced flank steak:

fried polenta

They look like Twinkies, don’t they?!

fried polenta and steak

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While Stas and I were in New Zealand for our honeymoon (late November – earlyDecember 2009), Stas fell in love with Chicken Schnitzel with Mushroom Sauce. When we returned home, I set out to make my own version.

I had made chicken schnitzel before, on many occasions (it’s simply meat covered in breadcrumbs)… but never with the sauce. My goal was for it to be quick and simple, using only a few common ingredients. Afterall, I usually only cook schnitzel when I’m short on time or when the fridge is almost empty.

It was a success on the first try!

Here’s what I did:

Chicken Schnitzel with Mushroom Sauce

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you could also use bonleless pork or turkey – but then you can’t call it “chicken schnitzel” 🙂 )
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups white mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/3 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

ingredients

1. Combine flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Place the egg in another bowl. Place chicken breasts on a cutting board, cover with plastic wrap, and pound until thin:

pound the chicken until thin

2. Dredge the chicken breasts in the flour mixture. Gently shake off the excess, then dip them in the beaten egg, then back in the flour. (Doing flour- egg-> flour helps it stick to the chicken, so you’ll have a nice batter when it’s cooked.)

3. In skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat; fry chicken breasts in batches, about 4-5 minutes each side. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

keep warm

4. In the now-empty skillet, fry mushrooms and garlic until no liquid remains, about 5 minutes.

5. Add reserved flour mixture and cook, stirring for about 1 minute.

fry the mushrooms and garlic, then add flour

6. Stir in stock; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until thickened, about 3 minutes.

7. Add sour cream and soy sauce and stir for about 1 minute.

finished mushroom sauce

8. Pour over schnitzel and sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 4

served with fried potatoes and a salad

See the recipe for those fried potatoes here.

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I love creamy soups – but I very rarely eat them, because they’re often loaded with heavy cream (helloooooo calories!). But I was pleasantly surprised to flip through the October 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living and see this recipe – no cream!

And what’s better than a warm, “creamy” soup on a cold fall or winter day?! You could eat a large bowl of it as your main meal, or have a small bowl with a sandwich (maybe a warm panini – yum!).

(To be honest, I made this back in October – but was just too damn busy to blog about it!)

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, October 2009
3 2/4 pounds butternut squash, halved and seeded (you could also use a sugar pumpkin)
1 onion, peeled and quartered through the stem
2 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps wiped clean
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

1. Preheat Oven to 450 degrees. Cut squash into 2-inch pieces. Combine squash, onion, mushrooms, and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Add oil and 2 teaspoons salt; toss to coat, then spread in a single layer. Roast until squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 30 minutes, rotating pan and tossing vegetables halfway through. Let cool, then remove skins.

2. Transfer vegetables to a medium saucepan; heat over medium. Pour in 2 cups stock; puree with an immersion blender until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add remaining 3 cups stock, and puree until smooth. Bring soup just to a simmer. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

Serves 4.

I served mine in my pumpkin-shaped soup tureen – isn’t it cute?! It’s from Crate & Barrel:

my pumpkin-shaped tureen

dig in!

The magazine doesn’t provide nutritional information, but I used a recipe analyzer and estimate that each serving is around 232 calories or 4 Weight Watchers points.

Calories: 232
Fat: 7.2g
Carbs: 44.2g (7.5 g fiber, 9.3g sugar)
Protein: 4g

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I made this dish for the first time about a month or two ago, and I was all set to blog about it – until I realized that the pictures had been deleted from the camera.

I made it again tonight and loved it just as much as the first time. And it’s surprisingly fast and simple to make! It does take a little planning ahead though, since you’ll have to make sure you have dried cherries and pomegranate juice on hand.

The pictures didn’t come out great – I was hungry and rushing to take them. But I hope you’ll try the recipe for yourself!

Stas and I returned from our honeymoon in New Zealand this past Saturday, so expect pictures and a full report at some point soon. And we finally got our professional wedding pictures back, so I’ll be posting some of those, too!

Pork Medallions with Pomegranate-Cherry Sauce
from Cooking Light, November 2009

1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
salt
black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/3 cup dried sweet cherries
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon butter

1. Cut pork crosswise into 12 1-inch thick pieces. Sprinkle both sides of pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add pork to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side, or until done. Remove pork from pan; keep warm.

browned pork

2. Add juice, cherries, wine, and vinegar to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook 2 minutes. Combine cornstarch and water in small bowl (this step is important – if you don’t combine the cornstarch and water separately, you will have lumps). Add cornstarch mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat. Add butter, stirring until butter melts.

don't be scared of a little butter!

3. At this point, you can return the pork to the pan and coat each piece in the sauce. OR, you can serve the pork and sauce separately (I serve it this way, so that people can choose to add as much or as little sauce as they like).

the finished dish

Serves 4 (serving size: 3 medallions and 2 tablespoons sauce)

1 serving = 6 Weight Watchers points

calories: 269
fat: 10.1g (3.6g saturated)
protein:24.3g
carb: 17.6g
fiber: 1.4g

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IMGP4855

I had high hopes for this recipe – it sounded and looked so good in the magazine, and it received great reviews online.

But both Stas and I hated this meat loaf! It was spicy, but not in a yummy kind of way – I think it lacked seasoning. And the ketchup topping was such a bad match with that spiciness – it was too sweet and… well.. nasty. (In all fairness, I did use reduced carb ketchup instead of regular. Maybe regular would have been better).

It was painful finishing these leftovers, but we did it. And I will *not* be making this agian. Instead, I’m sticking with my tried-and-true meatloaf recipe.

… which reminds me: I haven’t blogged about my favorite meat loaf recipe yet!

Spicy Turkey Meat Loaf with Ketchup Topping
from Cooking Light, October 2009

1 tablespoon butter
2 cups chopped onion
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey breast
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, mushrooms, and garlic to pan; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool 5 minutes.

spicy-turkey-meatloaf-2

cooking the mushrooms and onion

Combine mushroom mixture, panko, and next 8 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl; stir well to combine.

spicy-turkey-meatloaf-3

meat mixture

Shape turkey mixture into a 9 x 5–inch rectangle on a pan coated with cooking spray. Combine ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and nutmeg in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Spread ketchup mixture evenly over top of meat loaf.

spicy-turkey-meatloaf-4

after shaping the loaf and spreading the sauce on

Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

spicy-turkey-meatloaf-6

cooked & ready to serve

Serves 8

(note: the information below is based on using regular ketchup. When I made it, I used low-carb ketchup)

1 serving = 4 Weight Watchers points

Calories: 184
Fat: 3.7g
Protein: 23.2g
Carbohydrate: 15g
Fiber: 1.2g

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pecan-crusted-trout

The original recipe calls for trout, but the grocery store didn’t have any, so I used tilapia. I’m not sure it was the best choice for a substitute… Cooking Light suggests cod, halibut, or catfish. (Hey, tilapia was on sale!)

If you don’t like pecans, you could use another type of nut – like almonds or walnuts!

Pecan-Crusted Tilapia
adapted from Cooking Light, October 2009

1/4 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

ingredients

ingredients

1. Place pecans in a mini chopper or food processor; pulse until pecans are finely ground. Combine pecans and panko in a shallow dish.

2. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish evenly with salt and pepper. Dredge fish in nut mixture, pressing gently to adhere.

pecan-crusted-trout-breading

dredging the fish

Place 2 fillets in pan; cook 4 minutes or until browned. Turn fish over; cook 4 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Remove fish from pan; cover and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining fish.

cooking a fillet

cooking a fillet

the plated fish

Stas' dish

Serves 4

1 serving = 6 Weight Watchers points

note: this is the nutritional information for the trout version:
Calories: 267
Fat: 15.3g
Protein: 27.8g
Carbohydrate: 3.5g
Fiber: 0.8g

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