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Skinny Cilantro-Garlic Shrimp in Coconut Milk

29 Mar

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Have you been observing Lent?  Congratulations to those who have and those who have not been eating meat on Fridays.  If you’re a vegetarian or vegan it probably was not too tough for you, but us carnivores have a little challenge remembering that chicken, beef, pork etc. may not make participate in our meals on these days.  Remember that while I’m not married to observing Lent and the meatless Fridays tradition, I do generally follow it since I eat with Bryan most Friday nights.

Here is one more dish that is quick and super tasty for your last meatless Friday!  The tomato-coconut broth is velvety smooth and tastes indulgent, but this is a Skinnytaste recipe so your fat content is far less than what you might assume as you munch away (10 g fat/ servings with 4 total servings in this recipe).  Have a fabulous Easter weekend!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 lbs jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (weight after peeled)
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz can light coconut milk (50% less fat)

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat  OO over a low heat. Add red peppers and sauté until soft (about 4 minutes).
  2. Add scallion whites, 1/4 cup cilantro, red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook 1 minute.
  3. Add tomatoes, coconut milk and salt to taste.
  4. Cover and simmer on low about 10 minutes to let the flavors blend together and to allow the sauce to thicken.
  5. Add shrimp and cook 5 minutes. Add lime juice.
  6. To serve, divide equally among 4 bowls (or 2 for double servings.  You’re looking at around 520 calorie meal if you have 2 servings/person like we did) and top with scallion greens and remaining cilantro.
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February Cooking Club: Cocoa!

15 Mar

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The key ingredient for February cooking club/competition with my co-workers was cocoa.  I have plenty of treat recipes I could have gone with, but I wanted to challenge myself to a savory cocoa-laced dish.  I came upon this chili recipe from Snack Girl which sounded exactly like what I was going for.  The only shortcoming was that it was being hosted on a Friday night.  Bryan and several others (I assumed) could not eat meat.  No problem!  I would put together a meat and a meatless version for the lent observers.  To mimic some level of meatiness, I would also try my hand at roasting eggplant.  I did a little Googling and figured that out.  The veggie version would also feature zucchini.  Similar to pumpkin chili recipes, the cocoa was subtle enough to avoid overpowering the recipe yet still present enough to be detectable.  It was a winning dish, but not the winner.  That coveted spot went to Kirk with his pork mole tacos.  Mole is no joke to make and the sauce was quite  good.  I’m just thrilled with the amount of left-overs I have truthfully.  I’m set for those last minute lunch or dinners thanks to some frozen on-the-ready portions I’ve got on hand.

Other entries included: Cocoa Dusted Chicken with Rice, Chile Chocolate Lime Martini Pudding, Red Wine Chocolate Cake w/ PB Mascarpone Icing, Peanutella Brownies with a Nutella Icing, and two versions of Popcorn- one Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt and the other a Milk Chocolate with PB and Vanilla.  A great food occasion as usual with this crowd!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (80% lean)
  • 3-15 oz cans different beans (black, light and/or dark kidney, white, pinto, etc.)
  • 1-28 oz can plum tomatoes
  • 4 TBSP chili powder
  • 2 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • salt to taste 
  • hot sauce (optional)

Directions:

  1. Brown ground beef in large sauce pan over medium high heat. When meat is brown, drain beans and add.
  2. Pour in tomatoes with their juices and add spices. Heat to a simmer and taste for salt.
  3. Cook for about 20 minutes at a low simmer and serve!

Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini Boats

12 Mar

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Modified ever so slightly to a more semi-homemade version (I used jarred sauce instead of making my own and made a few other minor adjustments), this Skinnytaste recipe simply put floated my boat (see what I did there?!)   Ironically I had chosen this recipe to another the night I made it thinking it would be less labor intensive.  Not the case and I ended up shoveling down before a yoga class, but it was SO worth it.  Like stuffed peppers, this recipe has your protein atop/inside your main veggie.  You can almost eat it like finger food.  I stress almost.  It is a little messier than that!  I am going to try changing this up with some alternative ingredient/flavor combinations as I was so impressed how this recipe came together.  Enjoy!

Ingredients: 

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  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 12 oz lean Spicy Italian chicken sausage, removed from casing
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella
  • 8 tsp grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out flesh, leaving 1/4″ thick walls of the zucchini. Chop up the scooped out flesh of the zucchini into small pieces and set aside.           IMG_20130107_182203_701
  3. Drop zucchini halves in boiling water and cook 1 minute. Remove from water.
  4. Place 1/4 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 12″ baking dish, and place zucchini halves cut side up.
  5. In a large saute pan, brown sausage, breaking up as it cooks into smaller pieces until browned; set aside.
  6. Heat oil and add onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook on a medium-low heat for about 2-3 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add chopped zucchini, season with salt and pepper and cook about 2-3 minutes. Add sausage and cook a few more minutes.
  7. Using a spoon, fill each hollowed zucchini with 1/3 cup cooked sausage, pressing firmly. Top each with 2 tablespoons each of sauce, 1 tablespoon each of shredded mozzarella cheese and 1 teaspoon each of parmesan cheese.                                                                                                                      IMG_20130107_191055_444
  8. Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown on top and zucchini is cooked through.

Coconut-Lime Tilapia

18 Feb

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The Lenten season has arrived which means no meat Fridays around our house.  I am not a very religious person and thus don’t have to follow this, but I usually do to help Bryan stay on track.  Completely vegetarian meals don’t appeal to us much so getting creative with fish dishes is a must.  I stumbled upon this recipe in a recent edition of Women’s Health Magazine.  I love these tropical flavors and have never cooked with coconut oil before so it was a new cooking adventure.  You can buy liquid or solid coconut oil for cooking.  I found that the solid coconut oil was cheaper and a little more reasonable health stats wise.  It melts very quickly too so you’re not adding a lot of time to your prep.  This is what it looks like below.  It is very subtle and almost waxy like consistency.  Hope this is a meal you’ll consider for your Lenten season!   

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Ingredients:

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  • Zest of 3 limes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted, divided (This can be found at a local health food store or somewhere like a Vitamin Shoppe)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted, divided
  • 4 (5 ounce) tilapia fillets
  • 8 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (fresh is best)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Directions:

1. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, combine lime zest, garlic, salt, pepper, and 4 teaspoons coconut oil.

2. Coat tilapia fillets with the oil mixture on both sides. Place fillets, two at a time, in the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until golden and crisp.

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3. In a large bowl, toss spinach with the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil and 1 tablespoon lime juice. You may sautee the spinach or serve fresh- more like a salad.  I opted to do a quick sautee and serve with couscous.  Divide amoung four serving plates with a fillet, and drizzle with lime juice.  If the table is for two, consider saving the second filet for lunch!

January Cooking Club: GINGER

12 Feb

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The January edition of my co-worker cooking club/Iron Chef competition centered around the ingredient ginger.  The funny thing is that I threw that ingredient out there jokingly having initially thought, “What the heck can you do with ginger?”  I came to find that it is actually a very versatile ingredient and the dishes at this gathering were a testament to that.  I made Asian-Style Turkey Burger Sliders with a ginger soy sauce that was simply to die for.  They were so good that you would be shocked to know the recipe comes from a Weight Watchers cookbook I borrowed from my Mom.  Other contributions included: homemade ginger ale for Dark and Stormy’s, Moscow Mule (has ginger beer in it), lemon ginger scones, a chicken curry dish, orange ginger beets, and ginger snap breaded fried chicken with apple and onion slaw.  What a treat it all was for the tastebuds! This group continues to amaze me with their culinary know-how.  Besides the fantastic eats, the ambiance was particularly welcoming.  Our host, Scott, had us at his almost finished house which he had spent countless months upgrading into a nothing shy of a masterpiece home.  February’s cooking club appropriately requires the ingredient cocoa.  I wonder if this will be a mostly dessert-focused gathering.  I wouldn’t mind a bit 😉

Ingredients:

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Turkey Burger Sliders (NOTE: I doubled the below recipe as the cooking club crowd was bigger than your dinner for two or family dinner of four crowd):

  • 1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped onion
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 TBSP low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • cooking spray
  • 1 packages of sliders rolls (usually come in 12 packs so you may have a few left-over rolls)
  • lettuce, tomato, onion (optional)

Sweet Ginger Soy Sauce (Adapted from http://disgustinglygood.com/):

  • 4 TBSP low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 TBSP sherry cooking wine
  • 5 TBSP turbinado sugar
  • 2 TBSP minced fresh ginger, or 1/2 TBSP ground dry

Directions:

  1. Prepare grill or large cast iron skillet (we used the latter.)
  2. Combine turkey and the next 7 ingredients in a large bowl.  Divide into 8-10 equal portions shaping into 1/2 inch thick patties. 
  3. Place patties on grill or in your skillet with a healthy amount of of cooking spray.  Cook approximately 5-7 minutes on each side or until done.                                                              IMG_20130127_105554_722
  4. For the sauce, simply combine all ingredients with a whisk and cook over a medium heat.  Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for several minutes.  It will thicken as it cools.
  5. If desired, toast your slider rolls and melt a little butter to brush on top immediately adding sea salt.  Top with lettuce, tomato, and onion if you wish, but definitely spoon some of the ginger soy sauce for a flavor bomb!
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January Cooking Club Spread

Perfect Tortilla: How Perfect Are We Talkin’?

18 Jan

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You may have seen the Perfect Tortilla infomercial which boasts its product’s ability to provide a healthy and fun way to enjoy a tortilla bowl.  Bryan really wanted this item to be added to our repertoire of fun kitchen items (other such items we own include a tabletop popcorn maker, deep fryer, fondue pot, and Skookie which is a cookie skillet.)  The set comes with 4 tortilla molds and a recipe booklet with sweet and savory ideas. 

I typically buy 10-12″ whole wheat, low carb tortillas and simply heat them in the oven until a little crisp.  I fill them with low-fat browned ground turkey seasoned with El Paso low-sodium taco seasoning.  I’ll top with myriad of extras like lettuce, salsa, Wholly guacamole, a little reduced-fat cheese, and greek yogurt in place of sour cream.  Serve with black beans on the side and you’ve got yourself one flavor-bursting, reasonable meal!  The only change to this is that I used the Perfect Tortilla this time.  I simply put the tortilla in the mold, ensured it was flush with the edges, and baked for about 8 minutes.  It did, in fact, make the normal taco meal I love a lot more fun!  This goes to show that a little novelty can go a long way.  I’m excited to try different recipes  in my Perfect Tortilla. 

Do you have a favorite fun kitchen item that makes a meal 10x more fun?

Chicken with Vegetable Ragout and Polenta

7 Jan

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I am always a fan of polenta as a side at restaurants and had been eye balling the pre-made polenta tube at Trader Joes for awhile.  I stumbled upon this Sandra Lee Food Network recipe on my hunt for including polenta in a home cooked meal.  It was unique and very satisfying.  The tube of pre-made polenta from Trader Joes yielded more polenta than the recipe called for so I added a little milk and blended the remainder of the tube with salt and pepper, added some reduced fat shredded cheddar, and heated it up for a side to a meal later that week.  Get creative and enjoy polenta on the side as an alternative to boring old rice or potatoes!  Mmm mmm mmm.

Ingredients:

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  • 3 cups frozen primavera vegetable medley (recommended: Birds Eye)
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (recommended: McCormick)
  • 1 (14-ounce) jar pasta sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry (I didn’t have so I used red wine vinegar)
  • 1 (24-ounce) tube pre-made polenta, sliced 1/2-inch thick (recommended: Trader Joes brand)
  • Grated Parmesan, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine frozen vegetable medley in the bottom of an at lease 3-quart pyrex baking dish or a 5-quart slow cooker.  If you have chosen to cook in the oven, preheat to 400 degrees.
  2. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Place chicken on top of vegetables.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together pasta sauce, tomato paste, garlic and sherry (or red wine vinegar). Pour 2/3 of the sauce over chicken and vegetables. Top the chicken with polenta slices and cover with remaining sauce. Cover and cook on the LOW setting for 4 to 5 hours or bake on 400 for around 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked throughout (this will differ depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts- ours were big boys.)
  4. Serve hot with Parmesan.