Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Finally - she returns!

For the handful of you who still check in to this blog - thank you. So sorry it's been a few months since I've posted anything - I ran into a few problems at the beginning of February. To make a long story short, I've been diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer. That this has been a huge shock is an understatement - our lives have been totally turned upside down. I'm currently going through chemotherapy and am doing very well - the treatment seems to be working! I am very hopeful at this point and have received so much love and support from family and friends. Also, please forgive any glaring errors in grammar and coherency because there really is a thing called "chemo brain" (although my husband thinks it's just my new convenient excuse :-) At any rate, my life has been crazy since then, but the good news is I finally have the time and energy to blog again!

So, earlier this year, I had decided to devote this blog to healthy, diet-friendly foods. Ha - forget that now. I may eventually rejoin the Tuesdays With Dorie gang (if I even can), but for now, I'll just check in with them now and then and make some super delicious treats once in a while. One thing about being blessed with all those wonderfully caring friends and family - my family and I have been well fed. It's a well-known theory around these parts that enormous amounts of food can cure cancer. Good thing my mother bought us a freezer - we've already got enough in there to feed a small army. We won't have to worry about any kind of swine flu quarantine - we're set to eat like royalty for weeks! Needless to say, I haven't been cooking much since all this started. In the future, I think I'm going to feature some of the yummy things I've been getting.

Since yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, my sister made us her famous chicken tacos and I thought I'd start posting with that. Oh my, are they muy bueno!

Chicken Tacos

1 lb boneless chicken chicken breast
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1-2 tablespoons pineapple juice
3/4 cup terryaki sauce
fresh corn tortillas
vegetable oil
condiments: chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, lettuce, cheese, guacamole (recipe below), black beans (recipe below)

Combine first six ingredients into a gallon-sized ziploc bag and marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
Cook on the grill.
Meanwhile, fry the tortillas in a small amount of vegetable oil using tongs to hold the tortillas open (fry one side at a time).
You can always just use store bought corn tacos, of course (you could also use flour tortillas). When the chicken is done, slice thinly and serve with the toppings. Enjoy with a large margarita!

2 ripe avocados
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
1/4 finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
salt to taste

Mash all ingredients together and serve immediately.

Black Beans

1 can black beans, drained
1-2 teaspoons dried cumin
1/2 - 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 - 1 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together and heat. All of the spices are to taste - if you like spicy stuff, you can add some red chili pepper instead of the chili powder.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Light Italian Wedding Soup

It has been cold here in the midwest - I mean really, really friggin' cold. I don't like it one bit, but I'm coping. One of the ways I try to cope is by eating and drinking lots of hot liquids - lots of tea, lots of soups. I found this recipe in the latest issue of Everyday Food, which actually had 4 soup recipes this month - and was intrigued. First, I'd never made Italian Wedding Soup before and second, it calls for escarole, a vegetable with which I was completely unaware. It looks a lot like lettuce and is actually a part of the endive family - slightly bitter when raw, cooked it mellows out and is pretty darn tasty. Thankfully, my kids are pretty adventuresome when it comes to new veggies. They've tried kale, swiss chard, broccoli rabe, and others - most of which were a hit. They really liked this soup a lot, but if your kids might balk at the escarole, you could easily substitute spinach.
I think the idea of little meatballs in the soup appealed to my kids too, so it wasn't hard to get them to try it.
This recipe was really easy and came together in about a half an hour. I only slightly deviated from the recipe, adding some oregano and additional water and it turned out to be really delicious.

Light Italian Wedding Soup
from the Everyday Food January/February 09 issue
makes 6 servings

1 pound ground dark-meat turkey (93 percent lean) I used a 1.25 lb tray of Jenny-O Turkey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes in juice
2 heads escarole (2 pounds total), cored, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 cups water

In a bowl, combine turkey, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Using 1 tablespoon for each, roll mixture into balls. The ideal tool for this is a small scoop - I used a teaspoon sized scoop and kind of mounded the meatball mix on the end.

In a large pot, heat oil over medium. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add broth and tomatoes (with juice) and oregano; bring to a simmer. Add meatballs; cook, without stirring, until meatballs float to surface, about 5 minutes.

Add as much escarole to pot as will fit. Cook, gradually adding remaining escarole, until wilted and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Thin soup with water if desired (I used 2 cups); season with salt and pepper. Serve soup sprinkled with more Parmesan.

Nutritional Info per serving
250 calories
9.8 grams fat (3g Saturated)
23.6 grams protein
19.3 grams carbs
4.8 grams fiber
WeightWatchers Point Value per serving: 5

I hope you try this soup at your house and please, let me know how you and your family liked it!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I'm Baaaack!

Hello Internet world, I'm back. I really need a new New Year's Resolution to stay on top of blogging! I'd like to say that I've been incredibly busy doing good works and just simply didn't have the time to blog. Alas, no good excuse like that for me - just lazy :-)

We had an absolutely, perfectly terrific Disney vacation. There really is no other word to describe that place but "Magical" (well, maybe "expensive" might be one too if you ask my husband). I just love Walt Disney World and have decided that the hubby and I are going to retire down there and work at Disney part time (saw lots of retirees working, especially on the transportation stuff - boats, buses and monorails). I could do that - I mean how hard could it be to deal with millions of people from all over the world trying to placate their tired and cranky kids day in and day out. He's not nearly as excited at that prospect as I am, but luckily I've got 20 years or more to convince him!

The 1/2 Marathon was a great experience (except for maybe miles 11.5 through 13 - those were pretty brutal) and I am so thankful that my Sister-in-law ran with me at my turtle speed. Thank you so much Karen - you kept me motivated and going when I so wanted to stop! She and her husband also went to the parks with us and were not only a huge help, but the kids adore them and had a wonderful time riding rides and even standing in line with them. Which reminds me - January is a great time to visit Disney, our longest wait was maybe 20 minutes or so and most were less than 5. We had to use fast pass only twice - once for Toy Story Mania and once for Soarin' (both are highly recommended and always had at least a 45minute wait). It did get pretty cool however, with highs in the low sixties and even 50's on our last day. This of course was infinitely better than the temps the folks back in the home town were experiencing - 0's and worse - yuck! So glad I missed that!

I could go on and on about how wonderful Disney World is, but I'm sure either you already know because a. you've been there before or b. you've heard from people you know who've been. I'll sum it up and say it's worth every penny!

Back to food blogging tomorrow with a great soup recipe I found in my Everyday Food magazine.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Lighter Chicken Parmesan

After I get back form Walt Disney World, I plan on really starting to watch what I eat (there's really no point while you're on vacation, right?). I've decided to use and see how it works out. WW doesn't have any meeting places close to where I live (I'm spoiled now, living in a small town and think 25 minutes is just too far to go for a meeting, or anything else for that matter) so I'm going to track my points online. I'll try to include the points values for the recipes I post, but I can't promise I can get to every one. I'll also be tracking my weekly workouts which will hopefully be 4 runs and 2 cross trains. I've got the best of intentions don't I?!

Anyway, here's a recipe that's really easy and is a kid-pleaser too. Sorry, I don't have the points value for this dish yet, but the nutritional data is at the bottom of the recipe.

Baked Chicken Parmesan

1.5 pounds boneless chicken breasts (about 6)
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese
1.5 cups prepared tomato sauce (for a time-saver, I like to use Bertolli or Newman's Own)
1/2 cup egg substitute (or two eggs, beaten)

Preheat oven to 375°. Spread olive oil in the bottom of a 13x9 pan. Pat chicken breasts dry and season with salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl, mix bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Put eggs in another shallow bowl and set the bowls side by side.

Here's my assembly line:

Dredge each chicken breast in eggs, letting excess drip off, and then dredge in bread crumb mixture. Set each breast in the prepared 13x9 pan.

Bake for appx. 20 minutes until the chicken starts to get lightly browned.

Remove pan from oven. Cover the chicken with the tomato sauce and top with mozzarella cheese.

Bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is starting to brown.

Nutritional Information (by
6 Servings

219 Calories
8g Total fat
4g Saturated Fat
26mg Cholesterol
369mg Sodium
18g Total Carbs
2g Dietary Fiber
17g Protein

I like to serve this with a side of pasta and I really like the Barilla Plus line (extra fiber and protein) - but if you're watching carbs, just serve it with loads of veggies!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TWD: Tall and Creamy Cheesecake and an announcement

Hi everyone, I'm back! Sorry for the unannounced (and unanticipated) blogging vacation. I sure hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas - we sure did. It wasn't exactly peaceful (that's an impossibility with four children) but it certainly was joyful.

I have made my fair share of cheesecakes and even made some to sell this holiday season - and that's what I did with this one. A friend ordered a cheesecake for her family Christmas celebration this past Saturday, which was perfect timing for this week's TWD post. I have a couple of very good recipes from that I most frequently use. In fact, I used the topping from this one to create the cheesecake I made for my friend - Cranberry Orange Cheesecake with a Chocolate Crust.

Dorie's recipe comes together very easily, like most cheesecakes. I'm not sure why people find the prospect of making a cheesecake daunting, because, really it's pretty easy - the trickiest part is the water bath and I'm going to tell you the secret right now. When you're wrapping your springform pan in foil to go into the water bath, you must use the large heavy duty foil (18 inches wide). If you use anything smaller, the water will seep into the pan and turn your crust into mush (I speak from experience here). Wrap the pan at least twice, making sure to mold each foil layer upwards towards the top of the pan (not folding it sideways) - you may have to roll the top of the foil around the top edge.

Another tip: when you fill your roasting pan, make sure to put the pan in first, then fill it with hot water (no more than halfway up the side of the pan).

To make a chocolate crust, I just used 1 3/4 cups of crushed oreos (stuff removed - this is much to the delight of my children who make super stuffed oreos).

You can buy plain chocolate wafer cookies - Meijer doesn't carry them here though and they're usually more expensive than oreos (plus, no stuff). Anyway, I omitted the additional sugar and just stirred in the melted butter.

The only other change I made to the original recipe was to add 2 tsp. grated orange zest to the batter and add the topping. Here's that recipe:

1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

Stir sugar and water in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium; add cornstarch mixture and bring to simmer. Add cranberries; cook until beginning to pop, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Stir in orange peel. Cool completely. Cover and chill overnight. (Cheesecake and cranberry mixture can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Run knife around top edge of cheesecake to loosen. Release pan sides. Top cheesecake with cranberry mixture. Chill until set, about 1 hour.

My announcement is sort of a sad one to make - this will be my last Tuesdays with Dorie post. Unfortunately, Dorie's baked goods aren't calorie free and I really want to focus on losing 30 pounds next year. I thought that training for a half marathon would do the trick, but alas, no. At least I didn't gain any weight! I have had such a great time since I joined and I am so thankful for all my new blogging friends I met through TWD.

In 2009 I am going to try to post healthy recipes which will be lower in fat and sugar, but every once in a while, I'm going to have to sneak in something truly decadent (and there's really not many better sources out there than Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie). Thanks to all my TWD buddies for all your support and I'll be sure to check in with you each Tuesday!

Have a happy and safe New Year!
UPDATE: It's been too long since I last posted a TWD - I completely forgot to link to the wonderful blogger who choose this week's recipe. Please visit Anne of Annestrawberry for the recipe and to check out a truly fantastic blog!