Sunday, March 27, 2011

Carrot Ginger Dressing

A couple months ago I had the opportunity to go to Kobe Japanese and Sushi Restaurant for lunch. One of my favorite dishes of the entire meal was their salad with a ginger-carrot dressing. Man, was it tasty. Recently, I was perusing smittenkitchen's website, and came across this recipe for Avocado Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing. I thought I should give the dressing a try and see if it's similar to Kobe's dressing. After all, the reviews for the dressing were pretty spot-on. Well, I had to go the chinese store off Broad street to find the white miso. I had absolutely no idea what it was. Basically, it's a paste that you can make miso soup with as well as salad dressings. It cost only about $5, and I think it will last quite a while. The dressing was a bit tangy, and I think I used too much seasme oil. But, I think I will give it another whirl and see if I can get it just right. I do recommend this dressing, though. Enjoy.

1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons sweet white miso
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
1/4 cup grapeseed or another neutral oil (I used canola oil)
2 tablespoons water

To make the dressing, after prepping all of your ingredients, add the carrots, shallots, and ginger to your food processor and process a couple times until all the ingredients are finely chopped. Then add your miso, vinegar, and sesame oil. Process a couple more times till the ingredients are well-incorporated. Next, keep the food processor on low, and slowly add your grapeseed or neutral oil and water. Pour over your salad, and enjoy.

(Click here for printable recipe)

Cilantro Lime Tilapia

So, I've been doing a pretty good job at sticking with my healthy eating plan for this new year. I'm very happy that Sara suggested this blog (Ginas' Skinny Recipes) that she's been following. I've already posted one recipe from this blog, and here's a second one. I've been trying to eat more fish as well, and this particular recipe was a stand out. It's actually a recipe for shrimp, but I just can't bring myself to spend $10-15 on a bag of shrimp. At least not yet. So, I adapted this recipe to apply to Tilapia instead. I think it still worked really well. As you can probably tell from previous postings I have a thing for cilantro and lime. But, this recipe is really good and really fast. I highly recommend it. Enjoy!

2 tsp olive oil
2 lb shrimp, shelled and deviened (I used Tilapia)
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime
salt and pepper

These are my instructions for cooking my fish. Basically, the shrimp cooks a lot faster than fish. So, instead of 3-5 minutes cook it for about 2 minutes on each side.

First take a medium to large frying pan and pour the olive oil into it. Set your heat on medium to medium-high. Next, salt and pepper your fish or shrimp. Place in frying pan and sautee for about 3-5 minutes on one side and then flip it. Add the crushed garlic at this point into the pan. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and sprinkle your lime juice over the fish. Add the cilantro and toss it together. Serve hot.

4 Weight Watchers Points (Shrimp)
5 Weight Watchers Points (Tilapia)

(Click here for printable recipe)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Iron Chef Green: Green Papaya Salad

I really wasn't trying to win Iron Chef Green. When I found out that everyone agreed to do the green theme for this iron chef I didn't feel particularly inspired. So, I picked a "side" dish thinking it would be a throw away iron chef. However, sometimes inspiration comes along in funny ways. I literally dreamt up the idea to use chinese take-out containers for my presentation. Granted, the containers weren't exactly a true green color, but, hey, aqua is in the "green" family as the lady at World Market told me. For the most part, I looked for my green side dish on Tastespotting's website, but I came across this green papaya salad when searching on google for green dishes. The recipe got 3 good reviews, and I read that this particularly dish was voted the favorite dish in Thailand. So, I thought I'd try it. I mean how could the people of Thailand have it wrong, right? Well, they didn't have it wrong. They had it oh so very right. This thai salad was delicious if I do say so myself. It had lots of flavor, texture, and packed plenty of heat. I highly recommend this dish. And, I plan on making it for my mom and sister the first chance I get. Enjoy!

Note: I didn't use the exact ingredients from the website. I seriously gagged when I tried the dressing recipe using the shrimp paste and the fish sauce. So, I opted out of the fish sauce and used the soy sauce instead. Otherwise, this recipe would have seriously bombed. Also, the recipe didn't call for pistachios, but I used them anyway to add some more "green" to the dish. I used roasted peanuts, and not honey roasted. I toasted the nuts in a skillet on the stove for about 5 minutes. I also used a cucumber, green jalapneo, and roma tomatoes. Basically, the salad was a combination of the recipe and this link.

1 small green papaya, OR 1/2 large (your papaya should be very firm, the flesh white to light orange in color)
1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts OR plain roasted, or glazed cashews (see recipe link below)
1-2 cups bean sprouts
1 to 2 tomatoes, cut into long thin strips
1 red chili, minced (seeds removed if you prefer a milder salad)
3 spring onions (AKA Green Onions), sliced into long matchstick-like pieces
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped if leaves are large
Handful of fresh coriander (AKA Cilantro)
1/2 cup pistachios
1 cucumber

1/2 tsp. shrimp paste (if vegetarian, substitute 1 extra Tbsp. soy sauce)
2 Tbsp. good-tasting oil, such as olive
2 Tbsp. fish sauce OR vegetarian fish sauce, OR 2+1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 to 1 Tbsp. liquid honey

Spice Paste:
3 garlic cloves
1 red chili pepper (seeded and roughly chopped)
1 jalapeno, optional (seeded and roughly chopped)
Handful of green beans

This recipe requires quite a bit of prep work, but it's worth it. The first thing I did was make my dressing. I tried the recipe above using the shrimp paste and fish sauce, and like I said above; it was awful. So, I subbed the fish sauce for the soy sauce, and it was much better. I added a bit more honey and lime juice because I thought it was a tad too salty. I think it helped.

Next, I made the spice paste. I took 3 garlic cloves, 1 red chili pepper, 1 jalapeno, and a handful of green beans. I did boil the green beans in water for about 5 minutes, and then blanched them in ice water and dried. I roughtly chopped the garlic, jalapeno, and chili pepper. I also removed the seeds from the peppers. Process those ingredients in a food processor. Set aside.

Then, I started peeling and slicing all of the veggies. If you look at the How to Make Green Papaya salad link above, it shows you how to slice the vegetables. You want them thin and long. I made sure the tomatoes and cucumbers were roughly the same size in length. The bean sprouts were pre-cut. Peel your papaya and cut lengthwise in half. Remove the seeds. I turned over the papaya so the inside of the fruit was faced-down. Then, I used my julienne peeler and "grated" the papaya so I had long strips. That julienne peeler was a life-savor. It didn't take that long at all to peel most of the papaya. I used a large papaya and it created a lot of strips.

Roughly chop a handful of the cilantro and basil. Coriander is cilantro in case you didn't know.

Roughly chop your nuts.

Take a large bowl and combine the veggies, the herbs, and the papaya. Add the spice paste and stir the ingredients so the paste is incorporated well. Add the dressing and stir so that it's mixed in well. Add the nuts and stir again. Serve and sprinkle with some additional cilantro and basil for presentation. According to the recipe you could easily add crab meat or shrimp to make it a wonderful entree.

(Click here for printable recipe)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spaghetti Squash Gratin - Low Calorie Version

When Sara posted the Spaghetti Squash Gratin I had just started Weight Watchers. As soon as I saw heavy cream, cheese and butter I was hating life because I knew this would kill my points for the day. So I adapted the recipe to make it diet-friendly. I haven't tried Sara's version yet, but I am sure mine is not as good (as with most low calorie recipes). However this has become a staple in our house.

1 spaghetti squash, baked until tender (see Sara's recipe on how to prepare)
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano, divided in half
(in a pinch I have sub this with mozzarella and it was still pretty good)
1 tsp of oregano
salt and black pepper, to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400. Heat olive oil in a saucepan on medium high. Add onions and garlic then saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Combine onion and garlic mixture with ricotta and spaghetti squash. Then add half of the parmigiano reggiano, salt, pepper & oregano. Put the mixture into an 8 x 8 baking dish and cover with the rest of the parmigiano reggiano. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

I served with little mini pizzas made with Arnolds thin rounds as the crust, laughing cow sun dried tomato wedge as the sauce, and topped with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375.

(Click here for printable recipe)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Garlic Lime Marinated Pork Chops

Growing up there was one dish I really dreaded having to eat. That dish was my mom's pork chops. Seriously, I couldn't stand eating that pork. Sorry, Mom. First chance I got I'd put a piece of pork in my mouth and pretend I had to use the bathroom. And, I'm sure you can guess what I did next. Yes, I spit the pork out of my mouth into the toilet, and then I repeated. Yes, I was an awful kid, but I really just didn't like it. Sorry, mom (again) but I just didn't think it had much flavor. I really think that's why I didn't like it. My mom doesn't agree, though. Lol. She thinks I was just a picky kid. And, she was right. But, now that I'm an adult, and cook my own food, I've given pork chops another chance. And, this recipe from Gina's Skinny Recipe has a lot of flavor. Plus it's very good for you. If you look thru a lot of my marinade recipes a lot of them contain lime. I just think it is a solid ingredient for marinating and it doesn't have any fat. If you like a little spice in your life give this marinade a try. You really won't be disappointed. Enjoy!

4 (6 oz) lean boneless pork chops
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 lime, juice of
lime zest
salt and fresh pepper

Really this is a very simple recipe. All you do is take the ingredients from the garlic and below and combine into a bowl. Mix together. I did add some cayenne to this just to kick it up another notch. I then took my pork chop and the marinade and put in a ziplock bag. Make sure all of the marinade has covered the pork chop. I sealed the bag and placed in the fridge for about an hour.

Next, I preheated my oven on the Broil setting. Once the oven was ready I placed the pork chop on the oven rack with a cookie sheet underneath to help catch the juices. Cook the pork for 6 minutes on one side and 6 minutes on the other. Until the pork chop is nicely browned. Remove and enjoy.

This recipe is 6 weight watchers points.

(Click here for printable recipe)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cara's Spicy Corn Dip

When Cara first set out this corn dip at one of her parties a few years ago, I’m sure I was polite enough not to make a face. Well, pretty sure. You see… this is not a good looking dip. It’s white and lumpy and just doesn’t have much, if any, appetite appeal. However, if you remember what your mother taught you about not judging a book by its cover and just taste it—you’ll find that true tastiness is all that matters. This is an addictive dip. It’s not a healthy dip. And when you look at the ingredients, it doesn’t even sound good. But it is. Trust me.

2 (11oz )cans of Mexicorn, drained
1 (7oz) can of diced green chiles
3 Serrano or jalapeƱo peppers
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1 container (8oz) sour cream
1 ¼ cups shredded cheese
Tortilla chips

There really aren’t any directions, you just mix everything up and serve with the chips. But here are a few pointers:
1. The Mexicorn is usually in the canned veggie section and it’s really just corn with peppers. So if it doesn’t say “Mexicorn” don’t freak out.
2. Check your peppers for hotness. If they are really spicy just use two full and one without the seeds.
3. Scoopable tortilla chips are the best bet for controlling this dip and getting a good bite.
And that’s all there is to it. Really simple. Really good. Really ugly.

(Click here for printable recipes)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nutella Candy Bars

So, ever since I discovered the yumminess of Nutella; I bookmark every nutella recipe I come across. And, any chance I'm given an excuse to bring something to a party I jump at the chance to try a new recipe. Recently, a friend of mine hosted a Dance Party. This wasn't your typical dance party. You remember back in the 80s and 90s when we would dance to our favorite cassette tape or Compact Disc? Ah, those were the days. No, this dance party was danced to a game. A Wii game that in weeeeeeeeee!!!! Okay, if you haven't heard of the wii then you must be living in outerspace. But, anyway, it was a lot of fun and even though the host did an awesome job of making healthy dishes for us. I had to go and ruin it by bringing these so very un-healthy nutella candy bars. Thanks to
Ginger Bread Cake for posting this recipe. They were super easy to make and super bad for you. But, it's okay to indulge when you're dancing your butt off to a Wii game!! At least that was my excuse for eating them. When you are ready to give into temptation; make these and you won't be disappointed. Enjoy.

1 cup Nutella
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (finely ground)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 tbsp nutella

First thing take your cup of nutella and place in a large bowl. Take a food processor, and ground up about 1 1/2 packages of graham crackers. This should give you about 2 cups of finely ground crackers. Pour this in with the nutella. Stir together. Take your powdered sugar, and stir in with the nutella. Next, take your cup of melted butter and pour into the bowl with the nutella mixture. Stir to incorporate.

Now, take a 9x13 pan and spray with cooking spray. Take wax or parchment paper and place in the pan. This is such a lifesaver, and makes it easy to take the candy out of the pan. Pour the nutella mixture into the pan, and press down until evenly distributed in the pan.
For the topping, take 1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chips and 4 tbsp of nutella and melt in a microwave for about 2 minutes. Stir together, and pour over the candy. Spread evenly.
Refrigerate for an hour. Then, let it warm to room temperature before serving.

(Click here for printable recipe)

Semi-Healthy Baked Ziti

If you follow this blog at all (Do you? Does anyone? Are we just posting recipes to ourselves?) then you know that I don’t make particularly healthy food. I don’t know why recipes with cream in them just seem to call out to me. Probably because they taste so dang good. But occasionally, I do try to make something that’s at least slightly more healthy than what I usually make. I like to have my cake, and eat it, and fit in my jeans too.

I found this baked ziti recipe on Gina’s Skinny Recipes. Obviously not a site I visit very often, but she has a lot of great, healthy meal options, and even a section where she breaks down recipes by Weight Watcher points. So, I used this recipe as a jumping off point, but I did make some non-healthy choices so I don’t think I can say that it’s as healthy as it was to start. But any time I can get my husband to say, “This is a definite win,” to something that is even remotely healthy, I’m sold. So I’m going to post it the way I did it below, but if you want the even healthier version, check out the link above.

1 lb ziti
1 tsp olive oil
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed
28 oz whole or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp cayenne (optional)
salt and fresh pepper to taste
8 oz part skim ricotta
1/4 cup Parmesan
2 cups part skim mozzarella (divided)
Spray olive oil

Start by reading your box of ziti and following the directions to cook it al dente. You should also preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray a large 9 by 13 casserole dish with non-stick spray. Meanwhile, heat your oil in a saucepan (large if you will be mixing the pasta in this pan, medium if you are going to mix in the pasta pot). Saute your garlic for about a minute and then add in your spinach, tomatoes, oregano, basil, cayenne, salt and pepper. You can always use fresh herbs if you prefer. Mix it up and break apart the large tomato chunks while it simmers. Gina’s recipe didn’t say for how long, so we just pretty much let it go until the ziti was done. But if you have time the flavors will just continue to develop.

Once the ziti is done, drain it and mix it with the sauce. Then add the ricotta, parmesan and one cup of the mozzarella. Mix that in well, making sure you don’t have any giant clumps of ricotta. Then pour the mixture into your casserole dish and top with the rest of the mozzarella. I confess, I probably used more than a cup here. Don’t be mad. Bake for 30 minutes and then let it rest for 5 if you can hold yourself back. Then serve! Enjoy! All without having to unbutton your pants!

(Click here for printable recipe)