Friday, February 26, 2010

Open Face Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

I try not to post too many recipes of the semi-homemade variety, but this one is just too good to keep to myself.  It's so ridiculously easy, half the work is already done before you even start.  Just buy yourself some good quality items so it doesn't taste like you didn't make it. 

Chicken parmesan is a delicious yet decadent proposition, so I had to try Ellie's healthy version and see what it was like.  To be honest, I don't know that the die-hard chicken parm fans (like my husband) will be fooled, but it covers the biggest criteria in my opinion - the cheese and the marinara sauce.  The spinach is a nice touch to round out the meal.  Bottom line is, it will work in a pinch, and it's tasty.

Open Face Chicken Parmesan Sandwich
adapted from Ellie Krieger's So Easy
serves 2


1/2 whole grain Italian loaf or baguette
1 cup jarred marinara sauce
2 cooked chicken cutlets (I poached mine - grilled would be great)
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese


1.  Preheat broiler and place foil on the broiler tray.

2.  Slice the bread in half lengthwise to make two pieces.  Scoop out the bread to remove the soft inner portion and save for another use (like breadcrumbs).  Place the bread scooped side up on the broiler tray.

3.  Spoon 1/4 cup of sauce into each piece of bread.  Lay a piece of chicken on top and cover with 1 cup of spinach leaves.  Pour another 1/4 cup of sauce over the spinach, then sprinkle each sandwich with 1/4 cup mozzarella and 1 tablespoon parmesan.

4.  Broil until spinach is wilted and cheese is bubbly and browned, 4 to 5 minutes.  Serve hot.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cabbage and Lime Salad with Roasted Peanuts

This is a refreshingly different sort of salad, just bursting with zesty lime flavor.  It's another great example of ordinary ingredients turned extraordinary.  Just grab a couple of cabbages, some limes, and a bunch of spinach at the farmer's market, and you're most of the way there.  The crunch of peanuts serves as a delicious bonus.

This salad comes together easily, but you do have to be somewhat premeditated because of the two hours of resting time.  I actually wilted the cabbage in salt the night before, since by the time it had rested for two hours I would have been criminally hungry.  The wilted cabbage keeps, covered in the refrigerator, for up to a couple of days, so you can get that part out of the way in advance. 

You can happily enjoy this as a main course salad with some bread, or use it as a slaw with tasty BBQ.  You might be tempted to add cilantro (I don't know about you, but lime and cilantro are naturally associated in my brain), but I'd recommend tasting it first.  As much as I love cilantro, I think it would turn this into a completely different dish, and not necessarily in a good way. 

Cabbage and Lime Salad with Roasted Peanuts
adapted from The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern
serves 6


1/2 small red cabbage, trimmed, cored, and shredded
1/2 small green cabbage, trimmed, cored, and shredded
1 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 bunch of fresh spinach leaves, cut into 1/2-inch ribbons
1 lime, segmented
juice of two limes
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup canola oil (peanut oil if you have it)
1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
freshly ground black pepper


1.  In a large bowl, toss the cabbages with the salt.  Transfer to a colander, place over the bowl, and let sit for two hours to drain.  After two hours have passed, discard the salty water in the bowl (after admiring the pretty color), rinse and dry the bowl, and return the cabbage to it.

2.  Add spinach and lime segments to the bowl.  In a medium bowl, whisk lime juice, mustard and cumin together.  Stream in the canola oil, whisking constantly, to emulsify the dressing.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss together.  Toss in the peanuts and serve.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Moroccan Green Bean Tagine

Tonight our culinary journey takes us to Morocco!  This is a spicy (as in spice-y, not as in hot) and rich vegetable dish that will absolutely stun you with the way it manages to be complex and simple at the same time.  You'll need to raid the spice cupboard for this one, so be prepared!

I know this looks a lot like a green bean dish I made a few weeks ago, but it's actually quite different.  It's all about the spices - allspice, chile powder, garam masala, basil, and paprika all together?  Who's have thought they could combine so naturally.  They mingle and get lost in one another to the point where I think you'd be hard pressed to identify the individual spices if you didn't make it yourself.   The flavor is finished off with a tangy red wine vinegar glaze.

This would be gorgeous over cous cous or even rice, but I chose to go the traditional Moroccan route and scoop it up with flat bread (I used pita because it was what I had on hand) - no bed of grains needed! 

Moroccan Green Bean Tagine
adapted from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper
serves 3


1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons dry red or white wine
one 15-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
water as needed


1.  Heat oil over medium-high in a large, straight-sided saute pan.  Add green beans and onions, and season with salt and pepper.  Saute for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are browning.  Stir in garlic and all the spices (allspice through paprika); cook until fragrant, no more than one minute.

2.  Pour in the vinegar and wine, and boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up any browned bits.  When the liquid is completely gone, stir in tomatoes and their juices.  The green beans should be just barely covered in liquid - you will need to add some water to accomplish this.  Bring to a bare simmer and cover; cook, removing lid to stir occasionally, for 10 minutes or until beans are tender.

3.  Remove the cover and raise heat to a rapid boil.  Cook off excess liquid, stirring often to protect the beans from burning.  Cook until the sauce is thick and rich.  Season as necessary and serve.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pizza Rolls

This is more of a concept than a recipe, inspired by something that Giada made on her show a while ago.  You take some store-bought pizza dough, put some toppings on it, roll it up and bake it, and voila!  Pizza rolls.  It's remarkably simple, yet completely tasty and crowd-pleasing.

Today I made two - one with just marinara and cheese to please every palate, and the other was slightly more interesting, so that is the one I'm featuring here today.  You can, of course, put anything you like in it.  So long as you don't go for any toppings that are super chunky, you'll be able to roll it up into a pinwheel.  Just slice it up, put it out on a tray, and watch your guests gobble it up.

Pizza Rolls
serves 4-6


1 lb. store-bought pizza dough (preferably whole wheat)
flour for your work surface
2 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
one 15 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper


1.  Preheat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat liner.

2.  Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out the pizza dough to about 12 inches around.  Distribute the mozzarella slices fairly evenly around the pizza, followed by artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes.

3.  Carefully roll up the pizza into a cylinder, tucking in the edges to seal.  It will look like a giant burrito.  Brush with olive oil and season the top lightly with salt and pepper.

4.  Place on baking sheet, seam-side down, and bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Cheese might leak out, and that is perfectly okay.  Let cool a few minutes, then cut into 1-inch slices with a serrated knife.  Serve.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Havarti Chicken

This is a simple yet interesting chicken dinner that can easily be thrown together on a weeknight.  It's elegant, it's different, it's good.  A crunchy bread crumb crust combined with an ooey melty cheese center?  What's not to like?  Top it all off with some creamy avocado slices and you have a meal fit for company.

Be cautious about your cooking time - this is basically an extra thick piece of chicken after you roll it up, so you want to make sure it is completely cooked through, but not overcooked. 

Havarti Chicken
adapted from The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever
serves 2


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for the dish
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
2 quarter inch thick slices Havarti cheese
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry white wine
avocado slices for garnish


1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Drizzle a little bit of olive oil in a baking dish and spread it around.

2.  After pounding chicken breasts to even thickness, sprinkle with seasoned salt.

3.  Combine the olive oil with oregano and parsley.  Drizzle about 1/2 tablespoon of the mixture over each chicken breast.  Top each with a strip of cheese at one end.  Roll up the chicken breast, starting at the end that has the cheese, adn tucking in the edges so the rolls are the same length.

4.  In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs with salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle the chicken breast roll-ups with remaining oil/herb mixture, then dunk in the bread crumbs to coat all over.  Place in the baking dish, seam side down.  Drizzle with wine.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  
5.  Serve topped with avocado slices.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dark Chocolate Mousse (CEiMB)

This week was an extra special Craving Ellie in My Belly week for me, since it was my turn to pick the recipe!  What an honor.  Since we started the week with Valentine's Day, it seemed fitting to choose something chocolate.  (Oh who am I kidding, I would probably have chosen something chocolate anyway).

This is Ellie's take on chocolate mousse.  It's a very smooth, almost pudding-ish mousse.  But it is completely delicious.  I know many are skeptical of desserts containing tofu, but have no fear, if you use good quality chocolate and you top it with a little home-made whipped cream, you seriously cannot taste the tofu in this dessert.

I tend to tweak the recipes a bit, but this week I stayed true to the recipe, since I felt it was my duty as the hostess.  The only change I made was to use whiskey instead of brandy, since it was what I had on hand.  Some ideas I saw online were to use orange liqueur or mint extract, which I think would be delicious too, but would make this mousse taste less purely chocolatey.

Chocolate mousse is pretty much a crowd-pleaser, and this version is no exception.  Whether you make it for your special someone or for a group of guests, you will not be disappointed.

Thanks, CEiMBers, for cooking along with me this week!

Dark Chocolate Mousse
from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave
serves 6


1 (12.3 ounce) package silken tofu, drained
3 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon brandy (or whiskey)
1/2 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
chocolate shavings for topping


1.  Puree the silken tofu in a food processor until completely smooth.

2.  In a heat-proof bowl over a pot of barely simmering water (or in a double-boiler),  combine the bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder, water, and brandy.  Stir frequently until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat.  Stir in 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar, a little at a time, until smooth.
3.  Add the chocolate mixture to the tofu in the food processor and puree until well-combined and smooth.  You may have to stop it a few times to scrape down the sides.

4.  Pour the mousse into individual serving dishes, cover tightly, and refrigerator for at least one hour, up to three days, to set properly.  

5.  When you're going to serve,  beat the 1/4 cup heavy cream with an electric mixer until just starting to form soft peaks.  Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sugar, continue to beat until it is the texture of whipped cream.  Top the servings of mousse with a dollop of whipped cream and chocolate shavings (use a vegetable peeler on your chocolate bar to create shavings).  Serve.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mango Dal

Lentils don't appear to be a particularly interesting food group, but India has given them a whole new life in the form of dal.  Dal takes something ordinary and makes it virtually unrecognizable.  There is a huge variety of types of dal, and I don't pretend to know even a fraction of them.  But I will say that today I tried a type I'd never had before, and I made it in my own kitchen. 

Dal, meet mango.  I understand from some rudimentary internet research that it is actually a very traditional dish, but my passion for Indian food had yet to take me here.  Put my favorite fruit into a lentil dish?  I'm there. 

This is a spicy, warm dish that you simply have to try.  Every bite is packed with unexpected flavor.  Ginger and mango naturally go together - they are soul mates.  Add in traditional Indian spices like cumin and coriander, and you're well on your way.  The fresh bite of cilantro finishes the whole thing off.  Lentils are ordinary no longer!

Note:  Don't wait for all the liquid to be absorbed - this is meant to be a slightly soupy dal.

Mango Dal
adapted from Eating Well magazine
serves 2-3


1/2 cup yellow or green lentils (I used green)
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch cayenne pepper
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


1.  Rinse lentils in a colander and drain.  Combine with 2 cups of water, 1/4 teaspoon salt and turmeric in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer, cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, heat the canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cumin and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, ginger, coriander, and cayenne, and cook for an additional minute.

3.  Add the onion mixture and the diced mango to the pot of lentils and stir to combine.  Bring back to a simmer and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until lentils are very tender and starting to fall apart.  Stir in cilantro and serve.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Drunken Tuscan Pasta

The first time I saw this recipe, I couldn't wait to try it.  Then I proceeded to wait a couple of years to make it.  The fact is, this recipe is controversial, and I couldn't bring myself to give it a try until now.  How can a pasta dish be controversial, you ask?  Well, it involves dumping an entire bottle of wine into a pot, bringing to a boil, and cooking pasta in it.

Wine fanatics, fear not.  The wine doesn't die a pointless death.  It infuses the pasta with an incredibly deep, robust flavor (and color) unlike any pasta you've ever had before.  You might cry a little when you drain the pasta, and watch the boiled wine go down the drain.  But it will be in the name of a delicious dinner.

This dish truly is delicious and note-worthy.  And if it breaks your heart to use a bottle of wine this way, well, perhaps it isn't the dish for you.  But I'm sure two buck chuck would work perfectly fine, so no need to break out the family heirloom from your cellar here. 

The rest of the flavors are gorgeous as well.  Woodsy rosemary and mushrooms; earthy swiss chard with a whisper of nutmeg; garlic and red pepper flakes.  Everything about this meal sings.  Definitely break this one out for a special occasion.  Ask your guests to bring the wine - then you won't feel so bad about the bottle that just sacrificed itself for this incredible meal.

Drunken Tuscan Pasta
adapted from Rachael Ray's Book of 10
serves 2-3


1 bottle red wine (I used Cabernet)
1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti, angel hair, or linguine
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced baby bella (crimini) mushrooms
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
pinch red pepper flakes
1 bunch of Swiss chard, stems removed, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg


1.  Pour the entire bottle of wine into a medium-sized pot, and top up with water until it's the amount of liquid you would normally use to make pasta.  Bring to a boil.  Add pasta and cook to al dente.  Reserve about a cup of the cooking liquid before draining the pasta.

2.  Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of the EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and rosemary and cook until mushrooms are deeply golden, about 5 to 6 minutes.  Push the mushrooms to the side of the pan and add remaining EVOO to the center of the skillet.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for a minute or so, then toss with the mushrooms.

3.  Add the Swiss chard to the skillet and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  When they have wilted down, add the reserved pasta cooking liquid to the skillet and cook for a minute or so to reduce.  Toss the pasta with the rest of the ingredients and serve.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Potato Cilantro Wontons

Imagine a cross between a pierogi and a wonton, and that's pretty much what these are.  They are hearty and delicious, yet come in a small enough package that you could serve them as appetizers if you so choose.  We had ours as a main course, along with a spicy salad. 

The wontons get crispy around the edges, but stay tender in the middle.  The potato filling is piping hot and filled with delicious flavor.  These are probably unlike anything you've had before, and yet the flavor is familiar and delightful.  These also make me realize I definitely need to experiment with wonton wrappers more - they are so easy to use, and make something as mundane as a potato very exciting!

If you want to live on the edge, put a little Sriracha on the side for dunking.  Yum.

Potato Cilantro Wontons
adapted from Cooking Light magazine
makes 16


1 medium-large baking potato, peeled and chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
16 wonton wrappers
cooking spray


1.  Cook potato in boiling water for 8-10 minutes, or until tender.  Drain.  Mash the potato and stir in the scallions, cilantro, oil, paprika, salt and pepper.

2.  Preheat oven to 375 and lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

3.  One by one, spoon about 1 tablespoon of potato filling into the center of each wonton wrapper.  Moisten the edges of the wonton wrapper with water, and fold it into a triangle shape (one corner across to another).  Press the edges to seal into a triangle.

4.  Place the wontons on the prepared cookie sheet and lightly spray the tops with cooking spray.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until crispy around the edges and golden on top.  


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Baked Shells with Winter Squash

Today I am continuing my growing trend of making casseroles.  This one serves a purpose, however, as my mother hurt her foot and is recovering at the moment.  Time to swoop in with my one and only superpower:  the casserole!

This recipe is yet another variation on the theme featured here and here; namely the pasta with winter squash theme.  Yet it brings another flavor to the table.  This time instead of a creamy, fall-inspired dish, it's more of a comforting winter dish.  It features the woodsy flavor of rosemary, and a gorgeous crumbly topping.  It uses frozen squash puree, which is usually made up of butternut or similar squash, instead of canned pumpkin.

The only thing here that requires much patience is the caramelization of the onions, which does take some time.  Everything else about it is insanely easy.  If you like to make life difficult for yourself, you can break down a whole squash, cook it, and puree it yourself, but I find that the frozen winter squash puree in the supermarket is surprisingly high quality.

This meal is easy, hearty, and delicious.  There's not much to complain about there.

Baked Shells with Winter Squash
adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast
serves 5-6


cooking spray
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 pound medium whole wheat pasta shells
1 package (12 to 14 oz.) frozen winter squash puree, thawed
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups of 1/4-inch bread cubes from wheat baguette


1.  Preheat oven to 400. (You might actually want to wait to turn on the oven until a little later to save energy, but I wanted to give you the heads' up of the temperature).  Spray a 9 x 13 or similar casserole dish with cooking spray.

2.  Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onion slices, season with salt and pepper, and cover.  Let cook until the onion softens and releases its moisture, about 15 minutes.  Remove cover.  Raise heat to medium and cook the onions, stirring often, until browned and caramelized, about 20 minutes.  Stir in 1 teaspoon of rosemary.

3.  Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it, and cook the pasta until just barely al dente, about 2 minutes short of the time on the box instructions.  Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain.  

4.  Add the pureed squash and the pasta cooking water to the onions and stir.  Bring to a simmer, then toss the pasta and about 1/4 cup of the parmesan with the squash mixture.

5.  In a small bowl, combine the bread cubes with remaining teaspoon of rosemary, remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan, and remaining 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper, and toss.  

6.  Pour the pasta and sauce into the prepared casserole dish.  Top with the crumb topping.  Bake in the 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Vegetable Soup with Thai Flavors

My first exposure to Thai food was many years ago, and the dish was tom yum gai, an explosively flavorful soup.  I fell in love immediately.  Fast forward to today, when I made this incredibly easy soup that is not quite tom yum gai, and not quite Thai, to be frank.  But its flavor is definitely in the ballpark.  It has a serious punch of lime, lemongrass, cilantro, and onion, with a spicy kick to round it out.  It is, in a word, yummy.

This soup also happens to be extremely healthy, completely vegetarian, and cheap to put together.  It's another one to add to the ever growing "remind me to make this next time I have a cold" list.  But there's no need to wait to get sick. 

And a cheater's note:  you can buy crushed lemongrass in a tube in the produce section.  If you opt to go that route instead of buying fresh, use about two inches.

Vegetable Soup with Thai Flavors
adapted from Bon Appetit
serves 4


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
pinch of salt
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 four-inch piece lemongrass, smashed with back of knife
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce (Asian chili sauce)
1 five-oz. package baby spinach
1 cup 1/2-inch cubes extra firm tofu
juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


1.  Heat oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-low heat.  Add onion and garlic, and season with a pinch of salt.  Saute until tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes.

2.  Add broth, lemongrass, and Sriracha.  Increase heat; cover and bring to a boil.  Turn off the heat and let stand for about 15 minutes.  Uncover, remove the lemongrass and discard.

3.  Add spinach, tofu, lime juice, and cilantro to broth.  Place over medium heat and cook until spinach wilts, and tofu is heated through, stirring occasionally.  Serve.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate lovers, look no further for your fix.

It's chilly today, and I wanted to bake something delicious yet not overly gluttonous.  I turned to the queen of delicious-yet-not-overly-gluttonous, Ellie Krieger, and found her recipe for triple chocolate cookies.  The search was abruptly over.

Ellie's recipe calls for cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate, but I upped the ante even further and subbed in semi-sweet chocolate for the milk chocolate.  These are some damn chocolatey cookies, just screaming out for a glass of cold milk.  I am a happy bunny.

There is not a lot of butter or sugar in this recipe - it's all about the chocolate.  And when you bake the way I do, with all whole wheat flour, you can actually feel pretty good about eating these.  Just make them small, or else you  might overwhelm anyone else that eats them with the intense chocolatey goodness.

Triple Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave
makes 24-32, depending on the size


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa), coarsely chopped
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips


1.  Preheat oven to 350.

2.  In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl with an electric beater), beat the butter and sugar together until well combined.  Add oil and egg and beat until creamy.  Mix in the vanilla.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt.  Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix well.  Stir in both chocolates and mix well.  Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon, scoop batter onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Ellie says you'll get 24 cookies, but I got 32.

4.  Bake until cookies are just set, 10-12 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool.  


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Curried Chicken Salad (CEIMB)

This week's Craving Ellie in My Belly pick was this fantastic chicken salad.  I like chicken salad sandwiches on occasion, but I really am not a mayo fan.  So when I saw that this version had barely any mayo, I decided to cut it out altogether and see how it came out.  And it was delicious!  To top it off, there's a gorgeous hint of curry spice, fresh juicy grapes, and crunchy toasted almonds to provide a wealth of flavor.

The salad is meant to be served over lettuce with pita chips, but I opted to serve it with fresh whole wheat pitas and make little sandwiches out of it.  I can't even express how delicious it was.  Yum. 

So here it is, the seemingly mythical healthy, mayo-free, curried chicken salad.  It's the figure friendly counterpart to that menu item that seems to be popping up in restaurants everywhere.  What a great pick!

A note: I left out the cilantro merely because I didn't have it, but I think it would be an excellent addition, so I've included it below.

Curried Chicken Salad (CEIMB)
adapted from Ellie Krieger's So Easy
serves 2


2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1/4 cup lowfat plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/4 cups cubed cooked (and cooled) chicken breast
1/2 cup halved grapes (I used green, Ellie uses red)
handful finely chopped cilantro
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 cups lightly packed mixed salad greens
2 whole wheat pitas, warmed and cut in half


1.  Toast almonds in a small skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and beginning to turn golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

2.  In a large bowl, stir together the yogurt and curry powder.  Fold in the chicken, grapes, almonds, and cilantro and season with salt and pepper.  This salad will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

3.  Serve over a bed of lettuce along with pita bread; or pack the pita halves with lettuce and chicken salad.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Home Made Gnocchi

We loooove gnocchi in our house.  I have found a couple of reliable brands that are incredibly tasty, but I've always meant to try my hand at making them from scratch.  I made sweet potato dumplings once before, which were basically gnocchi made with sweet potatoes.    Here is a more traditional potato gnocchi, with hardly any ingredients and not too much skill required.

Once you've made these, you can lay them out on a sheet of wax paper and put them in the freezer (make sure they're not touching one another) until frozen, then put them in a freezer bag to cook later.  (Don't thaw them before cooking.)  Or you can cook them all right away.  I'd recommend lightly sauteeing them after you boil them so they crisp up a bit around the edges - I paired mine with a home made marinara straight after boiling them, and they got a bit mushy.

If you really want them to shine, dress them simply with a little home made pesto after sauteeing, and voila.

Home Made Gnocchi
adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
serves 4


1 large russet potato (about 1 pound)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
about 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (all-purpose is okay too)


1.   Peel the potato and cut it into evenly sized chunks.  Place in a pot and cover with cold water.  Salt it.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat slighly.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until potato is very tender.  Drain.

2.  Use a potato ricer, or a masher, to finely mash the potato, eliminating any lumps.  Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper.  Add about half the flour and stir.  Your goal is to create a dough that is easy to handle.  Add a little more flour if necessary to achieve a dough-like consistency.  Try not to overdo it on the flour.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface a knead a few times to bring it together.

3.  Break off pieces of the dough and roll each one out into a long, thin rope, about 1 inch in diameter.  Use a sharp knife to cut the ropes into 1-inch pieces.  Place them on wax paper, not touching, while you continue to work.  Create a gentle indentation with your thumb on each gnoccho, or press against the back of a fork to create lines.  

4.  When you're ready to cook them, bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Place the gnocchi, a few at a time, into the boiling water and gently stir.  When they rise to the surface, let them cook a few more seconds and then remove with a slotted spoon.   Sautee them or sauce them as you like, but do so soon, because they don't keep long after being boiled.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Roasted Beets and Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic

This dish is an homage to two items in the produce aisle that are severely underrated.  There was a time when I didn't like them either, but now I could happily eat a bowl of this for my dinner.  It also works great as a side dish or a salad.  You can serve it hot, cold, or anywhere in between.

Roasted beets and Brussels sprouts go together naturally.  They just work.  Add to that a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, along with a sprinkle of parsley, and you have yourself a gourmet dish.  It's that easy.

I roasted my beets so they were still slightly crunchy, but if you want them really tender to contrast with the crunch of the Brussels, roast them a bit longer.  Either way, the combination of sweet and savory in this dish is a beautiful thing.

Roasted Beets and Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic
adapted from The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook
serves 2-3 as a side dish


1 large beet (greens removed), scrubbed
12 (more or less) medium-sized Brussels sprouts, halved
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon good quality balsamic vinegar
handful chopped parsley


1.  Preheat oven to 400.  Trim any long dangling roots from the beet.  Wrap the beet in foil  and place on a baking sheet in the oven.  Roast for an hour to an hour and a half, depending on desired tenderness.  

2.  While the beet is roasting, toss the halved Brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon of oil, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.   When the beet has about 30 minutes left to go, add the Brussels sprouts to the baking sheet and place in the oven.  Roast for the duration of the beet's roasting time, tossing them about halfway through.

3.  Let the beet cool, unwrapped, for a few minutes before removing the peel.  (It should be really easy to remove, just don't burn yourself!).  Slice the beet into 1/4 inch slices.  Place in a bowl or on a serving platter and scatter the Brussels sprouts over the slices.  Drizzle with remaining oil and balsamic vinegar, season with salt, and sprinkle with parsley.  Toss everything to combine.  Serve hot, cold, or room temperature.