Category Archives: Recipes

Carrot Cake ~ Rachel

How was everyone’s Easter?

We had dinner at Dave’s Mom’s (Terry) house…2 of 3 sisters were there (only 1 lives here in town) which was nice. I was in charge of dessert and decided to make a carrot cake. It’s Terry’s favorite dessert and one of mine as well (the other is key lime pie) PLUS it was Easter…bunnies….carrots….you get my drift.

I gave my dogs pureed rabbit with their dog food for their Easter brunch. I’m kind of twisted like that 🙂

from Cooking Light magazine

I had only made carrot cake one time before and it was from a box. Have y’all ever tried to hunt down a good carrot cake recipe? Good grief! They are all so different! I was also trying to be somewhat healthy about it (as long as the cream cheese icing wasn’t terribly compromised I would be happy).  I happened upon Healthy Carrot Cake: Recipe Makeover – Cooking Light.

It called for 2 cups of grated carrots. I bought a bag of pre-shredded carrots at the grocery store and sort of chopped them up a little further. I think this was a mistake. Those pre-shredded/pre-packaged carrot shreds were a bit dry. I think pre-packing them sucks moisture out or something.

The cake didn’t call for anything other than carrots. No pineapple (I’m not sure how I feel about pineapple in carrot cake). No raisins (which is a shame b/c raisins in carrot cake are awesome). No coconut (I hate coconut so I was good with this).

Also, the only “spice” was cinnamon. I kind of feel like carrot cake should have some other stuff in it! I have a carrot cake cupcake recipe that calls for Chinese 5 Spice, which totally intrigues me.

In the end, the cake turned out as I probably should have suspected it would: A little on the dry side and very much on the bland side.

The cream cheese icing, on the other hand, was terrific. It saved the cake for me.

Everyone else seemed to like it. Terry was disappointed there was no pineapple or raisins! It’s good when your future mother-in-law thinks the same way you do when it comes to dessert!

So…the moral of the story is to not use pre-shredded carrots. And maybe not try to do “light” versions of your favorite dessert.

Does anyone have a good carrot cake recipe they would like to share with me?

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Hamburger Buddy ~ Rachel

Biz over at My Bizzy Kitchen asked her readers for their favorite lightened up recipes. Well, someone posted a recipe from Eating Well Magazine for Hamburger Buddy…a lightened up version of Hamburger Helper. I decided to make this dish last night. As I was cooking, Dave was exclaiming “Dinner smells awesome” which is always a good sign.

This dish really WAS awesome! A few things to note:

(1) I don’t have a food processor so I used my immersion blender for the mushrooms and carrots (no onions). The mushrooms got pureed and the carrots remained mostly intact. The whole mixture ended up looking like smashed ground meat. It did not look appetizing AT ALL but I knew it would taste great.

(2) You’ll need more salt and may need to dial back on the thyme. I want to figure out a different herb combination to try next time…maybe oregano.

(3) The recipe calls for sour cream, mostly to make it creamy. Dave decided to add some reduced fat shredded cheese to his and thought it was exactly what the dish was missing. I’m thinking next time, I might skip the sour cream and used reduced fat/light Velveeta (yeah, I know it’s not real food but I can live with it sometimes). I might also try using the 75% reduced fat Cabot cheddar and see what happens.

(4) I didn’t have chives to add to it but I bet they are a great addition. Some green onions might be nice too.

So without further adieu, I give you what was perhaps the nastiest looking meal I’ve ever made (it does not look like the picture) but also one of the tastiest!

Oh, I should also mention that a serving, about 1 and 1/3 cups, is enormous and is only 8pts!!

HAMBURGER BUDDY

6 servings, about 1 1/3 cups each

Ingredients

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, large ones cut in half
  • 1 large onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound 90%-lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium beef broth, divided
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat elbow noodles, (2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, or chives for garnish

Preparation

  1. Fit a food processor with the steel blade attachment. With the motor running, drop garlic through the feed tube and process until minced, then add carrots and mushrooms and process until finely chopped. Turn it off, add onion, and pulse until roughly chopped.
  2. Cook beef in a large straight-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped vegetables, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables start to soften and the mushrooms release their juices, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Stir in water, 1 1/2 cups broth, noodles and Worcestershire sauce; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Whisk flour with the remaining 1/4 cup broth in a small bowl until smooth; stir into the hamburger mixture. Stir in the sour cream. Simmer, stirring often, until the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley (or chives), if desired.

Nutrition

Per serving: 326 calories; 10 g fat (4 g sat, 3 g mono); 54 mg cholesterol; 38 g carbohydrates; 23 g protein; 4 g fiber; 431 mg sodium; 644 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (70% daily value), Zinc (33% dv), Iron (20% dv), Potassium (18% dv).

2 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 medium-fat meats

Beef Tangine w/ Butternut Squash ~ Rachel

I made this two nights ago and reheated it for dinner last night. It’s awesome! And quite easy to make. I bet it’s real tasty with lamb! We just ate it like a stew rather than putting couscous or any kind of starch with it. We had some whole wheat rolls with it (the frozen kind from Alexia…all the Alexia products are awesome). Not only was this tasty, it’s also low in points (7pts per serving).

Beef Tangine with Butternut Squash from Cooking Light Magazine

Photo: John Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr

Ingredients

  • 2  teaspoons  paprika
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground ginger
  • 1/2  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  (1-pound) beef shoulder roast or petite tender roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 4  shallots, quartered
  • 4  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3  cups  (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound)
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add beef; toss well to coat.

2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef and shallots; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes. Add squash; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 283
Fat: 9.5g (sat 2g,mono 4.8g,poly 0.5g)
Protein: 25.6g
Carbohydrate: 25.7g
Fiber: 4.8g
Cholesterol: 67mg
Iron: 4.6mg
Sodium: 617mg
Calcium: 103mg
Deb Wise, Cooking Light, JANUARY 2011

Cantonese Chicken & Mushrooms ~ Rachel

I had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory today. I ordered the lunch herb-crusted salmon and asked for asparagus. Do you know that they brought me? A nice portion of salmon, something like 1.5 cups worth of mashed potatoes and four, count them FOUR, spears of asparagus. This is what passes as the vegetable side? Sheesh.

I ate everything, though…including half a slice of cheesecake. And it was all delicious. I know I ate more points than I intended to, but that’s ok. I was really good this week so I’ll consider my week a success, even if it wasn’t perfect.

Tonight’s dinner was from the Food Network Magazine and oh my gosh, was it awesome! Dave even liked it!

Cantonese Chicken & Mushrooms     

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds chicken tenders or skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 6 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 thin slices peeled ginger(I just used minced ginger from a jar)
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 8 to 10 ounces sliced mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake or a mix(I doubled the amount and it still wasn’t enough mushrooms)
  • 12 ounces baby bok choy, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces(I didn’t think Dave would like bok choy so I sliced up zucchini)
  • 1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • Cooked rice, for serving (optional) (I actually used rice noodles)

Directions

Toss the chicken with the oyster sauce in a bowl. Mix the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons cold water in another bowl. Place both bowls near the stove with the remaining ingredients.

Heat a wok or deep skillet over high heat until hot. Add the peanut oil, then the scallions, ginger and garlic, and stir-fry about 20 seconds. Add the chicken mixture and stir-fry until the meat is no longer pink on the outside, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and bok choy. (This is where I added in the rice noodles).

Add the broth and sesame oil to the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the cornstarch mixture, return to a boil and cook, tossing, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and glossy, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with rice, if desired.

Per serving: Calories 303; Fat 12 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 90 mg; Sodium 415 mg; Carbohydrate 12 g; Fiber 2 g; Protein 38 g (This works out to 8 points plus per serving without the rice noodles or rice)

Bacon Pierogi Bake ~ Rachel

If I had the time to make homemade pierogies, I would. However, I do not so Mrs. T’s have to suffice. My usual preparation involves bringing them to a boil and then pan frying them with salt. I like mine with lots of salt and a little bit of sour cream. Dave thinks that is gross so most of the time we just top them with sauteed mushrooms.

I found this recipe in my latest Cooking Light and made it this week (without the tomato). It’s a winner! Dave just asked for a little less cream cheese…and to add mushrooms…next time. Shocker! I’ll be making this again…with lots of mushrooms 🙂

Bacon Pierogi Bake

Julianna Grimes, Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2010

Ingredients

  • 1  (16-ounce) package frozen potato and onion pierogies (such as Mrs. T’s)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2  center-cut bacon slices, chopped
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3  cup  (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4  cup  thinly diagonally sliced green onions
  • 1/4  cup  chopped seeded plum tomato
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Arrange the pierogies in an 11 x 7-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cook bacon in a saucepan over medium heat until crisp; remove from pan. Set aside.

3. Add garlic to drippings in pan, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add 1/3 cup cream cheese to pan, and cook for 1 minute or until cream cheese begins to melt, stirring frequently. Gradually add chicken broth to pan, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over pierogies. Top evenly with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with bacon, green onions, tomato, and pepper.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 303
Fat: 12.8g (sat 6g,mono 4.3g,poly 0.4g)
Protein: 12.1g
Carbohydrate: 36.4g
Fiber: 2.2g
Cholesterol: 38mg
Iron: 0.4mg
Sodium: 646mg
Calcium: 141mg
There are 4 servings in this recipe!

Pumpkin Chiffon Cake ~ Rachel

I’ve been running ragged the last couple of weeks and have this one crazy week left before I go to Bethesda, MD  for a big meeting. When I get home next Tuesday night, I will have day one again. Day one of tracking. Day one of exercising regularly. Day one of eating healthy. Right now, I’m just trying to not go crazy before my meeting. You won’t hear from me until I get back so until then, enjoy this recipe for pumpkin chiffon cake that I got out of Rachael Ray’s Every Day November issue!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, separated, plus 5 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks and pumpkin puree. Stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture until smooth.
  2. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the remaining 9 egg whites at medium speed until foamy, about 2 minutes. With the machine on, gradually whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar; increase the speed to high and beat until stiff but still moist, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add one-quarter of the egg white mixture to the pumpkin batter, folding with a rubber spatula just until no streaks remain. Fold in the remaining egg white mixture in the same manner. Pour the batter into a 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom and bake until springy to the touch and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 minutes.
  4. Let cool in the cake pan for 5 minutes, then invert the pan onto a narrow-necked bottle and let hang upside down until completely cool, about 1 1/2 hours. Place the cake right side up and remove the pan. To serve, dust the cake with the confectioners’ sugar.

Rachel’s commentary:

  • I didn’t have time to let my eggs and egg whites get to room temperature. Between that and my inability to whip egg whites to the desired stiffness level, my cake came out a little…well…it didn’t quite stay together 100%
  • I had a regular old tube pan with an intact bottom…so I did none of that hanging upside down and taking the bottom out business. I don’t think that contributed to my cake being a little messy but you never know.
  • Have fun folding all those whipped egg whites into your pumpkin mixture and make sure you have a really big bowl to do it in. It seemed to take FOREVER! My arm was getting tired. And I work out!

Cider-Braised Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potatoes and Sage ~ Rachel

I really love fall. The colors, the temperatures, the food, the smells, the NFL (Go Steelers!)….I could go on and on about my love for fall.  And although we hit 95 degrees today, I’ve decided to say good riddance to summer and welcome fall with wide open arms. Weight Watchers posted a recipe for Cider-Braised Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potatoes and Sage a week or so ago and I decided to make it tonight, supplementing it with some crusty wheat bread and some broccolini.

Cider Braised Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potatoes

Dave really enjoyed the meal and didn’t even say to me “You know what this needs?” He even ate his broccolini! He’s not a fan of the stems (of any vegetable really) so those went to the dogs. Kharma especially enjoyed hers. Dave pointed out that we can never teach our children that our dogs like vegetables! Baby carrots are their favorites!

Anyways, I digress. The one thing I did different from the recipe is that I essentially minced the shallots and didn’t use as many (Dave is very sensitive to the onion family). I also didn’t have any fresh thyme (I used dried) which I bet would seriously knock this dish out of the park! The meal was super easy to make and tasted like fall. YUM!

I’ve a feeling that I’ll be posting more recipes than I have been recently. I love cooking in the fall with pumpkin, squash, nuts, cinnamon, etc. Tis the season for good eats!

Tomorrow’s dinner? Pumpkin risotto served with roasted portabello mushrooms. My mouth is watering already 🙂

Pasta with Lemony Chicken and Asparagus ~ Rachel

Last night I made an awesome (and easy) pasta recipe that I got from the April/May 2008 issue of Cook’s Country magazine. Below is my version of it. For those of you counting points, each serving is 15 points. It’s a large and filling serving but if you wanted to lower the amount of points, you can drastically decrease the amount of extra virgin olive oil you use and/or the amount of Parmesan cheese. You could also use more asparagus than the recipe calls for to bulk it up!

Pasta with Lemony Chicken and Asparagus

Serves 4

1.5 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut crosswise into 1/4″ thick slices

Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces

8 garlic cloves, minced

1/2lb pasta: The original recipe calls for campanelle or penne but I used orecchiette

1/4 cup juice from 2 lemons

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped parsley (I left this out)

(1) Cook pasta according to directions, making sure to salt your water once it boils.Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water.

(2) Pat chicken dry with paper towel and season with the salt and pepper.

(3) Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until golden. Remove chicken to a bowl and cover to keep warm.

(4) Add remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil and asparagus to the skillet and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl with chicken to keep warm.

(5) Combine pasta, chicken mixture, lemon juice, cheese and parsley in the big bowl, adding in reserved pasta cooking water as needed. (I actually didn’t use any reserve cooking water)

Bon appetite!

Shiitake & Sweet Pea Risotto ~ Rachel

I love risotto…would probably eat it every day with different veggies and proteins if I had to! Dave is not such a fan but will eat it every now and then. I figured since he loved mushrooms, this recipe would be a slam dunk. Well, Dave took one bite of it and said he couldn’t eat it. We’re not sure what happened but we’re wondering if he just doesn’t like shiitake mushrooms? Anyways, I thought it was fabulous and wanted to share it with y’all. It was in one of the recent Cooking Light issues but it’s also online. Enjoy!

Shiitake and Sweet Pea Risotto

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1/2  cup  finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  minced garlic, divided
  • 1  cup  uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1/2  cup  dry white wine
  • 1  tablespoon  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4  cups  thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • 2  teaspoons  chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 3/4  cup  frozen green peas
  • 6  tablespoons  grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

1. Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan; keep warm over low heat.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/2 cup broth; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes).

3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic and 1 teaspoon thyme; sauté 1 minute. Set aside.

4. Stir mushrooms, remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, peas, 1/4 cup cheese, and pepper into risotto; cook 3 minutes. Spoon about 1 1/4 cups risotto into each of 4 bowls; sprinkle each with 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 324
Fat: 10g (sat 3.7g,mono 3.9g,poly 0.8g)
Protein: 11.7g
Carbohydrate: 48g
Fiber: 4.5g
Cholesterol: 14mg
Iron: 1.3mg
Sodium: 710mg
Calcium: 101mg

Laraine Perri, Cooking Light, MARCH 2010

Giveaway ~ Rachel

I’ve benefited a few times from fellow bloggers who gave away things to randomly chosen commenters. Sometimes the blogger gave away things of their own and sometimes they had been contacted by companies who sponsored the giveaway. I have yet to be contacted by a company to try out or review a product (How does this happen? I would love to know!) so I am giving away something of my own.

I recently received the Spring 2009 America’s Test Kitchen 30 Minute Suppers 64 Tear-Out Recipe Cards book with something else that I ordered from Cook’s Illustrated. I actually bought this when it came out in 2009 and certainly don’t need a second one! The recipes are AWESOME! Dave is willing to try at least half of them, LOL! And they are simple and quite easy to adapt into healthier recipes if need be.

Here are the ways you can enter:

(1) Leave a comment telling me what your favorite recipe sources are (cookbook, website, other blogs, etc).

(2) Post this blog entry’s link to your Facebook or Twitter page. Leave me a comment that you did this.

(3) Post this blog entry’s link on your own blog to mention the giveaway. Leave me a comment that you did this.

Don’t forget that each item is a separate entry (i.e., separate comment)! Please leave me your comments by 12:00pm EST on Friday, July 2nd. I’ll use a random number selector to pick the winner!

I have a ridiculous number of cookbooks (a lot of which I don’t use) so I might just make this a monthly thing until I thin out my supply 🙂