Wish Upon A Dish: January 2015

January 30, 2015

BBQ Cornmeal Cheese Flatbreads ♥ Healthier Snacks with Cabot Cheese Recipe Challenge #AD


When Cabot Creamery challenged Recipe ReDux members to create healthier and balanced snacks, whether finger foods or hearty apps, or our favorite “big game” or red carpet eats, I immediately wrote this idea on a pad.

Not many know that Cabot Creamery is a family-farmer owned cooperative of more than 1200 farms located throughout New England and New York and one-hundred (100) percent of Cabot’s profits go back to their farmers. It's such a pleasure to use their cheeses and finally got the chance to test a cheesy flatbread recipe with their famous Vermont cheese .

"I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes. I was not additionally compensated for my time."

This was not any standard flatbread, not one with herbs or spices but I incorporated cheese and cornmeal into the dough. Less flour, better glucose, happy diabetics.
Took me two tries to get it right and what I ended up with, will forever be the dough I make from now on. 
Traditional flatbread uses a smidgen if any, yeast, because it's called a "flat" "bread" for a reason.
Makes it perfect for someone just not ready to work with yeast.
In this house St. Louis-style crispy crust is the one of choice.

Three other great things about this dough.
1. You can mix it in a bowl with a wooden spoon, your processor or your stand mixer in 5 minutes.
2. It only needs to rest for 30 minutes so dinner is on the table in under an hour.
3. You toast it in a skillet or flat griddle.
4. It freezes exceptionally well, and
5. It is the easiest dough to roll out.

OK, maybe 5 great reasons.

One batch makes 4 (6x8-inch) rectangles or one large sheet pan size.
You can make a half appetizer size like for a kids party and let them dress their own, or you can make it on a round pizza pan and cut out slices.
It's all good.

In my neck of the woods (the Diabetic community), a dough made with less white flour and more fiber is so much healthier and fit right into the theme of this challenge.
If a lower fat dairy is something you are looking for, Cabot also makes excellent low-fat cheeses that are as good as their full-fat versions and I have had hands-on experience. So while this recipe uses a full fat cheese, a low fat one will work just as well.

I like that this is a thin crust and the full flavored toppings make it easier to use less. There is nothing unhealthy about this recipe.

Today's market's sell all kinds of BBQ meats from various manufacturers. I always have homemade pulled pork in my freezer, but have sampled a few from others. A BBQ brisket or pork shoulder is traditional but there are smoked turkey and duck legs that also work well.
I recommend a spicy BBQ sauce, either homemade or bottled. A small amount is all you need but can serve a bowl on the side.

I really hope you try this recipe. I can only tell you how we love it in this house. If you wonder why the cheese in the crust is important, if you were to take a bite of just the crust, you will think you are eating a cheese cracker.

The last of five toppings is caramelized onions. I make mine in the slow cooker. Just check online for the directions. That's it, 5 ingredients - dough, meat, sauce, onions and cheese.

Let's get cooking.....

BBQ Cornmeal Cheese Flatbread
makes 1 large dough
* 1 cup AP flour
* 1 cup masa harina or finely ground yellow cornmeal
* 2 ounces Cabot Pepper Jack cheese, finely shredded
* 4 ounces Cabot Aged Cheddar, finely shredded
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 3/4 cup cold water

BBQ Meat (Pulled beef, pork, turkey or duck legs), about 1 1/2 cups
Grated Cabot Vermont Sharp Cheddar Cheese, about 1/2 cup
1 large sweet onion, caramelized
BBQ Sauce, about 1/2 cup

1. Add grated cheeses to flours, stir to coat and separate. Add baking powder and salt and mix using the paddle attachment on a stand up mixer, the plastic blade in a processor or a wooden spoon. Cover the dough with a towel and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes. This gives the cornmeal time to soften. Can also be refrigerated and brought to room temp 30 minutes before using, or frozen wrapped in double plastic for up to 1 month.
This is a very workable dough and requires minimal flouring of the work board.
2. Divide the dough into 4 (16x12") to 8 (6x8") pieces and roll to a 1/4" thickness.
3. Heat a cast iron skillet until the pan is screaming hot. Brush any flour off each piece or it will burn.
Cook each side about 1 minute.
4. Layer the meat, onions, cheese and sauce. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until the cheese melts.



January 29, 2015

Carotene Poutine ♥ Healthier Snacks with Cabot Cheese Recipe Challenge #AD

A Quebec (or French-Canadian) staple, a dish of homemade french fries topped with white cheddar cheese curds and beef gravy. Generally served in a Styrofoam container or carton and it is the hottest thing to come off a food truck.
I took liberties and made poutine portable, requiring no utensils. A perfect snack watching TV, like say the Super Bowl or Oscars.

These couldn't be any easier to make because you will have to make a ton, trust me.

Cabot Creamery challenged Recipe ReDux members to create healthier and balanced snacks. From finger foods to hearty apps, lighten up your favorite “big game” or red carpet eats for entertaining.
Cabot Creamery is a family-farmer owned cooperative of more than 1200 farms located throughout New England and New York. One-hundred (100) percent of Cabot’s profits go back to their farmers. - Cheddar cheese is a protein-rich snack and naturally lactose free.

"I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes. I was not additionally compensated for my time."

I am extremely happy with the final presentation. This is something I will be making many times over, even after football season ends.

A combination of sweet potatoes, chicken sausage and fat-free gravy make this healthier without sacrificing any of the flavors that have made this the No.1 dish in Canada.

Why not be the first on your block to introduce your friends to the next big craze in snack form, even though it feels too lowbrow to be a French favorite.

Once I cracked the code on plugging the holes to keep the gravy from dripping, the rest was food nirvana. Extremely easy to make, you can keep extra sheet pans of the waffle chips in a warming oven until you need to restock the table and the only cooking involved was to saute the chicken sausage and gravy.

The cheese can be chopped into crumbles in the processor using the grind or pulse button (around 10 pulses). I cut very cold cheese into small cubes and then toss them in flour. It stops the cheese from sticking together and you get big (bottom pic) and little pebbles (top pic).

The smaller ones are the plaster that plugs up the holes in the waffle chips. It also doesn't hurt that it makes them cheesier. The larger crumbs are our curds. These are the one that get sprinkled when the waffle chips are out of the oven. These need to stick to the chips without melting.

You should have twice as many small ones as large, so allow about 5 ounces for small crumbs and 3 ounces of large. It's funny how each time I chopped a batch, the ratio was perfect. No need to go crazy. I used a basic stand up strainer who's holes were just large enough to hold in the larger crumbs and drop the smaller ones into a bowl.

A primer coat of small pebbles will fit in the waffle holes so the gravy doesn't drip through.

I suggest serving the chips on one big platter with small bowls for the sausage and gravy, this way the waffles stay crisps and the guests get to participate in the assembly.
I think this preparation might just give our Southern brother's biscuits and sausage gravy a run for the money.

After taking these pictures, this was my lunch. Totally transportable, I packed another for The Nudge to take to work. The final verdict was: waffle chips reheated well in a toaster oven and the sausage gravy went into a microwave. The Nudge was the talk of the break room. He loves when he's the star of the show.

You can use your favorite Italian Chicken or Turkey Sausage but I can safely recommend Alexia Sweet Potato Waffles. They bake without any extra fat and they are all about the same size, so no waste.

Let's get cooking.....

Carotene Poutine
makes 36 waffle chips - about 6-8 servings

* 8 ounces Cabot Sharp White Cheddar, divided
* 1 bag frozen sweet potato waffle fries
* 1 package (5-6) Italian Chicken Sausages, casings removed
* 1 packet gravy mix, your favorite (I used turkey)
* chopped chives or green onions, optional

1. Preheat the oven as per manufacturer's instructions
2. Put the sausage meat in a non-stick skillet, breaking up with a wooden spoon or potato masher.
3. Chop the cheese using the pulse or grind button on a food processor.
4. Remove the potatoes from the oven and immediately sprinkle the small pebbles over the chips, encouraging them to settle in the grooves and holes. Put them back into the oven for no more than 2 minutes, or until the cheese is totally melted but not bubbling. Remove, cool for a few seconds and loosen the chips from the pan. Sprinkle with another round of large crumbles (about 3-4 each chip)  and arrange them on a platter.
5. Meanwhile, as the potatoes are baking, saute the meat until all the pink is no longer visible, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or masher. When the meat is cooked, add 1 cup of water and the gravy mix. Stir until the gravy thickens and remove to a chafing dish, a small slow cooker or a heavy ceramic bowl with a lid (can microwave as needed ).

January 28, 2015

Clam Diggers ♥ Healthier Snacks with Cabot Cheese Recipe Challenge #AD

I am one who belongs to a growing group of snackers. The ones who could make a meal from the Happy Hour and Appetizer section of a menu. The Nudge just doesn't get it. A snack to him is usually a small bowl of nuts or crunchy cheese nibs or roasted spicy beans. Boring, honey. I have a better idea.

If I was a believer in reincarnation, my ethereal passport would surely be stamped "Spain, land of the tapa".

Cabot Creamery challenged Recipe ReDux members to create healthier and balanced snacks. From finger foods to hearty apps, lighten up your favorite “big game” or red carpet eats for entertaining.
Cabot Creamery is a family-farmer owned cooperative of more than 1200 farms located throughout New England and New York. One-hundred (100) percent of Cabot’s profits go back to their farmers. - Cheddar cheese is a protein-rich snack and naturally lactose free.

"I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes. I was not additionally compensated for my time."

Since this is the time of year where huge parties celebrate the Super Bowl and Oscars, it is always nice to offer a few healthy snack options for your guests. The best about these diggers is, no one will guess healthy, they will just call them WOW!

Inspiration was to take the best of a baked clam and a clam chowder and spin it into a snack.
I call them Clam Diggers.

This recipe requires a minimal of preparation. Everything is cooked in a 12 piece muffin pan, but these are not muffins or miniature anything, I used the walls of each muffin cup to act as an individual oven, intensifying the heat so that these snacks are baked in ten minutes.

For every dozen you will need, one russet potato at least 2" in diameter (the width of each muffin cup) and large enough to yield 12 (1/4-inch) slices (the amount of cups in one pan).

Spray each muffin cup with a cooking spray (I used butter flavor) and when you turn the oven on to preheat, the pan goes in as well.
Bake the potato slice on one side until they look like the ones to the right (I call them rafts). At 425° and on the lowest rack, it only takes 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place one square of Cabot Pepper Jack cheese (half a 1/4" slice) on each raft. The residual heat will melt the cheese and anchor the clam patty.

Once in the oven the cheese melts and surrounds the potato with a crisp cheese (frico) shell. Crunchy on the edges, creamy in the middle, briny from the seafood, spicy from the pepper jack and smoky from the bacon. Everything you could want in a perfect bite.

A 1-ounce scoop of stuffing is placed on the potato/cheese raft and an indent is made in the top. That is for the bacon and I even used a healthier turkey bacon. While the bacon renders its flavor to the stuffing, the stuffing flavors the potato raft.

Win-win, simple and easy. Doesn't look like it but these are extremely healthy and can be assembled in advance and finished baking off just 5 minutes before you serve your spread.
Clams? healthy? You bet.

Clams are a low fat, high protein seafood choice with an above average amount of healthful minerals such as selenium, zinc, iron and magnesium and B vitamins like niacin. High in Vitamin C with only a total of 8g carbs per 6 ounces.
There are only 22 calories in a 1-ounce serving of fresh clams in brine and 6-ounces is all that was used to make a dozen bites.

I placed each fritter on a piece of salad for an individual presentation (3 diggers per serving), but for a large crowd, an Oscar Party or a Super Bowl party, place them on a large platter and watch them disappear. Just make sure you have another batch ready. To hold them until game time, place finished diggers on a large cookie sheet, tent with foil and keep them in a warmed oven at around 200° for up to 30 minutes.

These are so good everyone will ask for the recipe.
Let's get cooking.....

Clam Diggers
makes 12 diggers - 3 per serving

* 4 ounces raw chopped clams
* 2 tablespoons clam juice
* 5 tablespoons dried bread crumbs, flavored, or if unflavored add 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning mix
* 1 tablespoon minced shallot, white parts of scallions or green onions
* 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
* 3 ounces Cabot Pepper Jack cheese, 6 (1/4") slices, cut in half (12 squares)
* 4-ounces Cabot Aged Cheddar or Sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
* 2 tablespoon chicken broth
* 1-2 large russet potato, sliced into 12 (1/4") slices, each 2" round
* 1/4 teaspoon cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon coriander
* freshly ground black pepper to taste, about 5-6 grinds
* 2 slices turkey bacon, cut into (24) 1/2-inch squares
* cooking spray, your favorite flavor

1. Preheat oven to 425°, spray each muffin cup and place the tin in the oven.
2. In a large bowl, add the clams and the clam juice, the chicken broth, the bread crumbs, shallot, garlic, cumin & coriander and stir to combine. Let the mixture rest while you slice the potato.
3. Carefully cut, use a mandolin or V-slicer, the potato into 12 (1/4") slices, use a cookie cutter to make them 2" wide and place them in a bowl of cold water.
4. When preheated, remove the pan from the oven and place one potato slice in each muffin cup. Return to the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
5. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a trivet. Flip each potato over and place 1 (1/4") square of pepper jack cheese on each potato.
6. Add the grated cheddar to the clam mixture and stir to combine. Scoop a heaping tablespoon clam mixture into the palm of your hand and form into a small patty. Push an indent with your finger, into the center, and place one in each muffin cup (can be frozen at this point).
7. Place two pieces of bacon on each patty and slide the tin back into the oven. Bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the pan and carefully place the diggers on a platter. Serve hot.

Frozen diggers: Bring to room temperature at least 1 hour before baking. If you can freeze them in the muffin tin, do so. If not, place one digger in a muffin cup before baking. The cup acts as a wall to stop the patty from sliding off the raft.



January 25, 2015

Roasted Red Pepper & Provolone Stuffed Chicken Breasts ♥ Week One EatingWell LoseIt! Challenge

There is always a story on this blog as to why a dish posted isn't the one that came off my printer.
Most of the ingredients are all there, I just like to rearranged them in different form.
First off, the roasted peppers I thought I had a jar of, must have been used for something else and the only sub in my pantry was sun-dried peppers, so to make up for the lack of moisture in the stuffing, I made a pesto.
It was tasty and there was no oozing.

Instead of chicken I used turkey cutlets. I only used turkey because I had the chicken earmarked for another dish and we had a snowstorm so there was no running out to the store. What leftover pesto I had after stuffing the cutlets was added to the orzo along with the olives. It's a good mix, Kalamata olives and pasta.

A quick review: I would make the pesto again and I found out that I do not like thin cut turkey cutlets. Actually except for sliced on a sandwich, I almost always eat the dark meat on T-day. It is drier than chicken and even though I cooked it perfectly and it was stuffed with moist ingredients, it was slightly dry. Yes, a chicken run will most definitely be doable next time.

The recipe below is the EatingWell recipe. If you want you can sub in a decent sun-dried tomato pesto which will work as well as mine did. It will include the cheese so omit the provolone.

Roasted Pepper-&-Cheese Stuffed Chicken
makes 4 servings

* 1/3 cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed
* 1/4 cup shredded provolone cheese
* 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed
* 3/4 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
* 6 ounces whole-wheat orzo (about 1 cup dry)
* 1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives
* 5 cups broccoli florets
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 4 lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
Combine roasted peppers and provolone in a small bowl. Cut a horizontal slit along the thin, long edge of each chicken breast, nearly through to the opposite side. Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon pepper, salt and oregano. Fill each chicken breast “pocket” with half of the cheese mixture, and press the edges together to seal. Place the chicken in the prepared baking dish and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil.

Bake the chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook orzo according to package directions. Drain; transfer to a bowl and toss with olives, the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Steam broccoli over 1-inch of boiling water in a pot fit with a steamer basket until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toss with butter.

Cut each chicken breast in half and serve with the orzo, the broccoli and lemon wedges, if desired.

Nutrition per serving : 501 Calories; 21 g Fat; 7 g Sat; 10 g Mono; 98 mg Cholesterol; 38 g Carbohydrates; 39 g Protein; 10 g Fiber; 649 mg Sodium; 544 mg Potassium

2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 1/2 vegetable, 4 lean meat, 3 fat

January 22, 2015

Rolled Barley Cookies

Most dishes end up in my kitchen because I had an ingredient and needed to use it. In this instance, I saw the recipe and just had to buy the ingredient.
While these were good for a few days, the birds got more pleasure out of them than we did.

The Nudge does not like chewy cookies so I assumed he would go for these.
He did not. Oh he had a few but then like most of my projects, they end up as animal food.

I am not upset, I wasn't all that thrilled with them either but I loved the rolled barley flakes.
Not a total loss, I have found a granola recipe that I will make as soon as my current bag is eaten.

That's not the only use for these flakes, oh no these will not become bird feed. Think about fruit crisps, biscuits, bread and of course, Cowboy cookies!! Right now the only way to get these into your stomach is through a computer and my favorite place for all things organic and healthy, Nuts.com.

Don't get me wrong, these are not bad cookies, just not great cookies but if you love crisp molasses cookies, you will love these. After the first sheet was baked I tried to add ingredients to make them more palatable to my tastes, and while it did work somewhat, it did not enough for us to finish them.

So, why am I posting a recipe I can't wholeheartedly recommend? I can highly recommend barley flakes and I will highly suggest you buy them, then in every recipe you use oats in, sub in these babies.

Go ahead, ask me why should you spend more money on these, when rolled oats are pretty downright cheap affordable?

I can give you 6 good reasons to eat barley flakes:

1. Barley has less fat
2. Barley has more potassium
3. Tons of more fiber
4.Vitamin A & B-6
5. the GI of barley is 22-29
6. the GI of oats is 58-85

I think of you cooked a bowl of both, you will also find the barley a sweeter grain.
So, while this cookie recipe was simply OK, the barley flakes are a SUPER FOOD!!!

Rolled Barley Cookies
makes 18 (2") cookies

* 2/3 cups flour
* 3/4 cups rolled barley
* 1/4 cup vegetable oil
* 2/3 cup maple or malt syrup or molasses
* 3/4 cup raisins
* 1/2 cup chocolate chips
* 1 egg
* 1 pinch of baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. In a bowl mix the flour with the rolled barley, raisins, chocolate chips and the baking soda. In another bowl mix all the liquid ingredients: oil, egg, and syrup.
3. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix gently. Like pancake mix, do not over mix or they will loose their crunchiness.
4. Spoon the mixture on to the tray covered with parchment paper. Bake for about 15 minutes.
5. To get extra crunchiness let the cookies cool down and then put them back into the over for 5 more minutes.

January 21, 2015

Tea Smoked Salmon ♥ Start Smoking in the New Year - Recipe ReDux Challenge January 2015

Been a very busy month with the Weight Loose Diet Challenge (so far, very successful), an upcoming recipe contest (hoping also very successful), participating in a very cool and prestigious recipe software beta test and the first Recipe ReDux Challenge of the new year.

And I thought I might quietly coast into 2015....HA!!
I was never good at coasting.

Start Smoking in the New Year
The New Year is heating up with smoke and spiciness. From boldly flavored smoked salts to actual smoking techniques, subtly smoked food is on-trend. The same can be said for spice as we savor heat from harissa, sriracha and smoked paprika. Show us a healthy dish you’re heating up with smoke and/or spiciness.

I am very intrigued with the theme of this challenge, and I wish it was spring and I had access to my new smoker, which is still wrapped in Christmas paper, in my basement. I guess I knew smoked foods would be a trend this year. I had such high hopes for smoking fresh mozzarella, vegetables, condiments like ketchup, mayo and mustard's to mention a few.

Not checked off yet, and can be done in a stove top version, is salmon. Yes, I can buy packaged cold or hot smoked salmon in my store but I was saving my first fresh salmon for my new smoker. One could argue that wood smoking and tea smoking are two separate things and since I received a tin of really good quality teas which will never see hot water, I thought about dabbling in tea smoking without squashing my wood smoked spring salmon dreams.

All you need is a large roasting pan that can easily accommodate a smaller aluminum pan for which would hold a beautiful side of wild caught salmon. I used an old, seen better days, pasta pot with steamer insert. No need to buy a stove top smoker (especially when there is a new toy already bought and paid for).

If a roasting pan is not something you have, I found this from Saveur.com.......

What you'll need

A large pot
A metal steamer insert
Aluminum foil
Smoking material (I used tea)

* 1/4 cup black tea
* 3 tablespoons brown sugar
* 1/2 cup uncooked rice
* herbs, your choice (thyme, basil, tarragon, chives)
* lemon or orange peel, optional

What to do:

Put two large pieces of foil on the bottom and up to the top, one on one side, the other across from it (I used an old pasta pot that is dented and usually earmarked for the grill).
Place a square piece of foil on the bottom, shaped like a bowl. Place the smoking mixture on the foil.
Place the steamer insert in the pot, along with the fish (or poultry, or even vegetables).
Turn the heat on. As soon as you see smoke, cover the steamer with more foil and place the lid on top.
Bring the foil up over the lid and crimp tightly. I also placed a dish towel on top.
Set the timer for 10 minutes an inch.

Meanwhile, make the finishing sauce (recipe follows).

Remove the foil and serve with the quinoa.

I am getting double duty from this dish. Along with this challenge I am also using this salmon for a recipe that comes right off the pages of the EatingWell Lose It! challenge.

Served with a Roasted Vegetable Quinoa, this could not have been easier or tastier as well as how happy I am that I accomplished another item on my Food Technique list.

Finishing Sauce
makes 4 servings

* 1/4 cup glazed walnuts
* juice of half a lemon
* salt & pepper
* 1/4 cup rice vinegar
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1 tablespoon honey or agave
* 1 cove garlic, minced
* Handful of fresh Italian parsley

Small chopper until the walnuts are minced fine but not mush. You want the texture.


January 20, 2015

Indian Saag with Chickpeas ♥ Week One EatingWell's LoseIt! Challenge

This dish is perfect for Meatless Monday and I love that there is no mention of curry. Saag is a spinach dish often served with paneer cheese and comes from the Northern part of Indian where dishes are not as spicy. I don't mind the spice, I can not eat curry powder.
I have made some suggestions and adjustments to make it even more family friendly.

Knowing The Nudge does not love vegetables the way I do, I opted to add a cup of sliced chicken pieces big enough for me to overlook and him to enjoy, and also a garlic clove (could use 1 teaspoon powdered).
Cook's note: No paneer in your market? I found Armenian frying cheese, which is the same as Halloumi.

Total time is under 1 hour, and since there is no knife work I would label it Beginner. Easy enough for a tween who loves to cook.

To make this vegan, substitute lite coconut milk (for the yogurt) and firm tofu for the cheese).

Since the amount of rice is under 1 cup and the next meal also included Basmati, make a double batch. I make all my rice in the microwave with great success. I do recommend a corning ware style round casserole with glass lid. Follow the directions on the package and cook on #5 for the recommended time. Let it sit for 10 minutes, covered, until ready to eat and then fluff with a fork. Refrigerate half for upcoming lettuce wraps.

If you have eaten diet foods that are bland and unappealing, I find that EatingWell is not afraid of flavor but a shake of Tobasco or Sriracha certainly could not hurt.


Indian Saag with Chickpeas
Makes 4 servings

  • 3/4 cup brown basmati rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces paneer cheese or 16-ounce package water-packed extra-firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 3/4 cup diced fresh tomatoes or drained canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt


  1. Bring rice and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to maintain a low simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, 30 to 40 minutes (see Tip). Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add paneer (or tofu) and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, chickpeas, ginger, garam masala and cumin. Cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in spinach, tomatoes and salt and cook until hot, about 3 minutes. Return the paneer (or tofu) to the pan and cook, gently stirring, until hot, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt. Serve the rice with the stew.


Per serving : 513 Calories; 25 g Fat; 11 g Sat; 6 g Mono; 59 mg Cholesterol; 50 g Carbohydrates; 26 g Protein; 9 g Fiber; 539 mg Sodium; 624 mg Potassium

3 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 2 starch, 1/2 vegetable, 1/2 lean meat, 2 high-fat meat, 1 1/2 fat

January 19, 2015

Salmon with Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa ♥ Week One EatingWell's LoseIt! Challenge

This was not the first dish on the EatingWell menu plan but we ate this last Saturday night using the salmon from my Recipe ReDux January challenge (smoking directions on the 21st, check it out). The EatingWell recipe called for roasting it with the vegetables. Either way, it was delicious!!

No delicata squash, no worry. I could only find acorn squash. Same size and texture. It was sweet and complimented the cauliflower.
I did not follow the meal plan as it was posted per day, I jumped around a bit to accommodate our schedule, but eventually all four weeks worth will get posted here, under their separate label "EatingWell Meal Plan" along with the other meal plans I have implemented.

This healthy salmon recipe has everything you want for a complete meal: omega-3-rich salmon, protein-packed quinoa and lots of vegetables. Drizzled with a maple-lemon dressing, this healthy quinoa dinner also makes a delicious next-day lunch.

4 servings | Active Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 50 minutes


  • 2 small or 1 large delicata squash (about 1 pound), halved, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets
  • 6 small shallots, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup red or white quinoa
  • 1 pound wild Alaskan salmon fillet, skinned (see Tip) and cut into 4 portions
  • Olive oil or canola oil cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Toss squash, cauliflower and shallots with 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender and browned in spots, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook until the water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  4. When the vegetables are tender, move the vegetables to one side of the pan and place salmon in the empty spot. Coat the salmon with a thin layer of cooking spray and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Roast until the salmon is opaque in the middle, 4 to 6 minutes.
  5. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, lemon juice, maple syrup and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Serve the quinoa, salmon and vegetables drizzled with the dressing and topped with walnuts.


Per serving : 499 Calories; 22 g Fat; 3 g Sat; 11 g Mono; 53 mg Cholesterol; 47 g Carbohydrates; 32 g Protein; 9 g Fiber; 516 mg Sodium; 1141 mg Potassium
3 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 1/2 vegetable, 1/2 other carbohydrate 3 lean meat, 3 fat

Tips & Notes

  • Place a salmon fillet on a clean cutting board, skin side down. Starting at the tail end, slip the blade of a long, sharp knife between the fish flesh and the skin, holding the skin down firmly with your other hand. Gently push the blade along at a 30° angle, separating the fillet from the skin without cutting through either.

January 12, 2015

Semi-Homemade Lentil Noodle Soup

"Soup is Good Food!!"

This is a healthy soup with a secret.
What's the secret? I used a canned soup as the thickener and the base. I bought a good quality 'lite' vegetarian lentil soup, pureed the whole can and into a stockpot with two cans of water (about 30 oz. total).

The additions were 1/4 cup French Puy lentils, one carrot sliced into half moons, Italian sausage, onions, Swiss chard and broken whole wheat spaghetti. This was surprisingly good. How did I know?

I got a "wow, this is good" after his first spoonful.

I am always amazed that he is surprised that my soup is good, so I asked him why so surprised?
He thought that lentil soup would be boring but was surprised mine was really tasty and good.

It was good, even the second and third time I ate this for lunch.
Homemade taste in under thirty minutes. I will take that every Monday after a long weekend of cooking and a day that is spewing frozen rain.
It's always a good thing when one can stretch a Can-Can sale soup into 6 servings. It's even better when it totally fits into my new Weight Loss Challenge.

Semi-Homemade Lentil Noodle Soup
makes 8 cups (1 1/3 cup serving)

* 1 (15oz) can Vegetarian Lentil Soup
* 30 ounces of water
* 1 salt free chicken bouillon cube
* 2 Spicy Italian turkey sausages, cut into bite-sized cubes
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into half moons
* 1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
* 1 large garlic clove, grated
* 2 cup chopped greens (chard, spinach, mustard, kale, collards)
* 1/4 cup French Puy lentils (or your favorite)
* 1 cup broken whole wheat thin spaghetti
* salt & pepper to taste
* 2 bay leaves
* 1 Parmesan cheese rind (optional) or grated right before serving

1. Open the can of soup into a blender, and puree.
2. Heat a stockpot and melt the butter. Add the onions & carrots and cover, cook on medium for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the garlic and stir.
4. Add the sausages, greens, lentils, bay leaves and stir to combine.
5. Add the pureed soup and water, using the can to measure, then the bouillon and the cheese rind. Stir to combine.
6. On a high simmer, covered for 20-25 minutes, and cook until the lentils are soft. Add the spaghetti and cook another 5-6 minutes.
7. Taste for seasoning, remove the bay leaves and the rind and serve.

Cook's hints: Using the rind for a deep cheese flavor (Umami) cuts the fat in the soup to a minimum. If I can find the rinds sold in plastic salad containers, I am sure you can also.
If you prefer a thinner soup, cook the pasta separately in a pot of salted water.
Why add the whole lentils? Full of fiber!

January 8, 2015

A Pantry Meal and a Weight Loss Challenge

Every new year means it's time to reduce the frozen foods in my freezer. That means I get to act like a dog looking for a bone he forgot where he buried it.
I am forever digging up bags of stuff and hope it hasn't been eaten by Jack Frost.

The Nudge hates retrieving stuff from that freezer because most are unlabeled and dated and I can always wait for inevitable...."Sue, is this the chicken breast?" Really? a breast looks like a breast frozen or fresh, right? A sausage is a sausage and nothing else?

Well, not really. Under a layer of frost a boneless loin chop does look like a breast and chorizo? well, it could pass itself off as Hot Italian Sausages. Since organizing my life will make every one's life easier, labeling the freezer food is on my list of resolutions.

For now, I have to shuffle stuff from one shelf to another because I just know it has to be in there....
Now, while not a gourmet meal, on a 9° evening it warms up the tummy and with some applesauce and spicy mustard, it's a solid meal.

You will need a kielbasa of choice (I love Hillshire Farm's Turkey version), a knockwurst & bratwurst (with a butcher I can buy one of each) and a package of pirogi.
Sour cream, spicy mustard, applesauce and baked beans round out the meal and everything was in my pantry.

Now, this pantry meal was a good reason for this post but it was not the main reason.
I wanted to talk about a challenge that Eating Well magazine put forth to anyone who needed help keep the #1 resolution of just about as long as there have been resolutions.....eating and exercising to a healthier lifestyle.

I usually do not give these challenges a second look, but my doctor has been getting on my case to keep track of every amount of food that I swallow. He seems to think it will help me lower my BMI, which in turn will can help me never worry about Diabetes again.
I thought I could do it on my own but his statement to that was......
"If we fed you under a door, you would loose weight".

Meaning, if someone else weighs and portions my food, I will have no choice but to loose weight.
At first I was slightly insulted (OK, maybe more than slightly), but once in a while someone says something that really makes sense the more you think about it.

No longer slightly insulted, I opened my email to this invitation.
I decided to give it a try.

I downloaded the free app and after a few minutes I got the knack and set a profile, a plan and a weight goal.
I have to say, it's pretty complete and easy to use. One hint: make sure the amount of weight you want to loose and the time you want to loose it by is doable because they will set your daily calorie intake based on that and my daily "budget" is a mere 1360 calories. At first I thought it was impossible but since Monday (when I started) I have been under by over 100 calories.

It has also been eye opening to the fact that I do not the 5 small meals recommended for successful weight loss and that might be hard for me to do, so along with this challenge I have also downloaded two months worth of Diabetic meal plans. All about 1400 calories a day.

There is some shopping to be done but I plan on posting the recipes from the meal plan starting on January 18th (Sunday), which means I start eating them next week. I can not guarantee I will post a whole months worth in 30 days but I will post them all eventually. My life like most of yours, has hills in the way and not every day is exactly what I plan.

I do hope you at least read about the challenge. Of course the App developer would love you to upgrade to a premium subscription but that would be up to you. I am giving it a trial run before I decide.

Note: I was not compensated for this recommendation, they have no idea who I am or that I wrote a post about the App.

If you take the challenge I would love to hear how it's working for you.
Good luck!!

January 5, 2015

Easy Fail-Proof Focaccia ♥ Forget those frozen dinner rolls

I hope your holiday celebrations were memorable. I was still in DC when I scheduled this post. While I brought my laptop and can download pictures, I was not sure how much time I would have to prepare a proper post. It's all about the vacation, right?

Lately I find myself posting recipes that, while not star chef quality, are ones that have to be applauded for their ease of preparation and are 100% fail-proof. Let's face it, while I could pull off a restaurant dish, I am not sure I could, or would, want to do it every night. By the end of the year I could use a few breaks and time savers in the kitchen.
Such was this recipe for focaccia I found at the King Arthur website. I have tried to use my pizza dough recipe, because there are those that swear it will work. It does not.

Now before you get all up in my face with the "bet my recipe is better", this wasn't meant to spike your blood pressure, it is all about the "don't stop trying" if one recipe fails you. I would have to say I try once a year and finally this year was the winner.

Focaccia should have a crisp exterior and a firm but airy interior and while you would think a bread stick (aka; pizza dough) would work, something happens when pizza dough meant for thin crusts tries to masquerade as a 2-inch thick bread. You see, a great pizza dough should blister and char at extreme temperatures where a focaccia should be baked as you would, a loaf.
Different product, different recipe.

The best part of this recipe is it is exactly the right amount to make a focaccia that fits in a quarter sheet pan. No need to half the ingredients. Absolutely perfect for two or four.

I first served this bread in 2x4-inch pieces with a bowl of soup. The second time around, I sliced it horizontally for paninis.The last slice was for the birds. No waste whatsoever.

If you re looking for the type of focaccia you thought you could only eat in a really good Italian restaurant, you must make this.

Let's get baking..............

makes 1-12x9-inch (2" thick) focaccia
* 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
* 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
* 1 cup warm water
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
* 2 1/2 cups (approximately) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
* 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle on the focaccia after baking

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water. Add 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour. Stir with a whisk and let this sit for 10 minutes to give the yeast a chance to get going.

Add the salt and the whole wheat flour. Add the rest of the all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough has formed a smooth ball. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let the dough rise in a draft-free place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down, and turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Stretch the dough into a 14-inch circle and place on a greased baking sheet. Let it rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F while the focaccia is rising. Dimple it with your fingers and place it in the oven. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through. Drizzle with the olive oil.

January 2, 2015

Baked Fontina with Chorizo and Apple ♥ Happy New Year to All

It is always nice to stay home after eating out for 7 days straight.I am not complaining mind you, but really, there is no place like home.

It was nice to not have to hit the market on our first full day back, and even nicer I had the makings for a whole day of football bowl game watching foods. I always get inspiration from eating out and last week we ordered a baked crab and artichoke dip (which we devoured in mere minutes) so I decided a baked Fontina would be perfect and a big bowl of sausage riggies.

We ordered a pizza and a salad for dinner the day with arrived home, so I tacked on a salad which came with two rolls. Garlic crostini with dip anyone? No where to go until Friday, I was loving the idea of hangin' with the cats in my jammies and sipping a glass of wine while I edit over 300 vacation pictures.

I am sorry but editing and filing pictures is not my idea of a "day off'"project but if I want to start Resolution #1 on Friday, I must start off fresh.
You may find this very strange considering the obsession with Instagram and selfies, but until 7-8 years ago we never took vacation pictures, ever!
We were from the DINK generation that watched hundreds of our parents and neighbor's vacation slides and swore our generation would never be so boring or ungracious to subject our friends to endless pictures of places they couldn't go to because of the kids. No pictures, no bother and we remembered where we were, that was all that was needed.
Now, with family reading blogs, they can choose to view (or not) if they want too.

This post is dedicated to the last of the holiday binges and when I finally got caught up on all my emails, I spotted this and looking for something to make during all the bowl games that I actually had all the ingredients for, I grabbed a few things from my freezer, cheese from the fridge and we had the makings for a really tasty dip. The inspiration for that dish came from Ina and I remember seeing that episode and the chef who gave her the recipe. Extremely easy to make, you simply saute some shallots, add some hardy herbs, a glub of cream and cubes of Fontina cheese but I took it a few steps further and added chorizo, garlic and cubes of apple. Baked in a cast iron fry pan until the top starts to caramelize, served with toast slices of bread that have been drizzled with garlic oil.

I love the crispness of the apple with the spicy chorizo and creamy cheeses. I adore crisp fruits with pork products and melted cheese. It reminds me of our favorite grilled cheese. Prosciutto, brie and pear. So this dish is like having a grilled cheese in dip form. Oh, wait....is it possible I planned it that way?
This is the perfect way to ring in the New Year. Resolutions can wait until tomorrow.

Baked Fontina Cheese
From my mind but inspired by Ina Garten

* 8 ounces of fontina, rind removed and cut into 1" cubes
* 2 ounces aged Asiago cheese, grated
* 1 Mexican chorizo link, casing removed
* 4 gloves garlic, thinly sliced
* 1/2 a crisp apple, peeled and diced into 1/4" cubes
* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
* 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
* 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
* 1/4 cup white wine
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* Dried red pepper flakes, optional
* 1 crusty French baguette, or two sandwich rolls

Buy the best Fontina you can find and preferably Italian, if possible.
Since I was making individual portions, I baked mine in small cazuelas.

1. Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 5 inches from the heat. (If you can’t get it exactly 5 inches, don’t worry, just as close as possible.)
2. Distribute the cubes of Fontina and the grates Asiago evenly in a 12-inch cast-iron pan. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sprinkle it over the cheese and olive oil.
3. Saute the chorizo in olive oil with the onion until cooked. Add the wine to deglaze the pan.
4. Add the apple to the cheeses and when the meat is cooled, stir that in.
Additional red pepper flakes can be added at this time. Sometimes the chorizo has a medium heat level. I wanted the pop.

Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and place the pan under the broiler for 6 minutes (or longer if your pan is farther from the heat source), until the cheese is melted and bubbling and starts to brown.
3. Serve the baked Fontina family-style-right out of the oven in the cast-iron pan with crusty chunks of bread for everyone to dip.