Cobb Salad

>> Saturday, March 20, 2010

When I'm trying to eat healthy, I always want to eat a salad, but they don't seem to fill me up for very long and salads don't seem like 'dinner' to Andrew. But that's not the case with a good, hearty Cobb Salad. God bless the man (or woman) who came up with the Cobb Salad - I am forever grateful! They're so simple to make that I'm hesitant to even post it here since it doesn't really involve a recipe...but maybe it will give someone else the idea to serve one for lunch or dinner sometime soon!

To make it easier and faster to assemble at dinner time, I usually cook the bacon, hard-boiled eggs and chicken ahead of time. Then at dinner time, I just need to chop everything up! Also, traditionally Cobb Salad is served with bleu cheese dressing, which you can make from scratch using this recipe, or use store-bought dressing.

Cobb Salad
1 romaine heart, chopped
1/2 cucumber, sliced
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
2 slices of bacon (can substitute turkey bacon)
1/4 cup cheese (I used cheddar because that's what I had on hand, but traditionally you'd use bleu cheese)
1 chicken breast, cooked and sliced or shredded
1 large (or 2 small) avocadoes, chopped
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
Salad dressing of choice

On a large serving platter, lay down the lettuce. Sprinkle the toppings in rows across the top of the lettuce and serve the dressing on the side. Voila!


Ground Pork and Veggie Stir-Fry

This was my second attempt at healthier cuisine and I thought it turned out really tasty. One of the best things about this recipe is the versatility - you can substitute a different type or cut of meat (chicken, beef, pork tenderloin, shrimp, tofu, etc.), you can use whatever veggies you like, and you can omit the toppings if you prefer (but I wouldn't because I thought they really made the dish!). Here's what I did:

Ground Pork and Veggie Stir-Fry
1/2 lb ground pork
2 T fresh ginger, finely minced
2-3 cups assorted fresh veggies (I used red bell pepper, carrots, celery, water chesnuts, edamame, and mushrooms)
2 T low-sodium soy sauce
2 T oyster sauce
2 t sesame oil
1/4-1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 green onions, chopped
2 T fresh cilantro, minced
2 T fresh basil, minced
2 T cashews, chopped
3 cups cooked brown rice

Over medium heat, brown the ground pork with the fresh ginger. Drain fat off. Add assorted veggies, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and chicken broth. Continue to cook until the veggies are tender, timing will depend on what vegetables you use. Add more chicken broth if you need more liquid. (The sauce will be thin, but if you prefer a thicker sauce, mix 2 t cornstarch with 2 t water and add the mixture to the sauce to thicken it.)

Serve over brown rice. Sprinkle green onions, cilantro, basil and cashews on top. Delicious!
Other veggies you could use are green or yellow bell peppers, broccoli, snow peas, bean sprouts, peas, baby corn, etc.


Healthier Pesto

After returning from vacation, my pants were feeling a little tight and I decided to try and make some healthier meals. The first one I made was this healthier pesto and I was really surprised at how good it was. I really couldnt tell a difference from traditional pesto! An added plus was that it reheated well so I was able to have the left-overs for lunch the next day.

Healthier Pesto
1 cup fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, tightly packed
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 T pine nuts, toasted
2 T parmesan, grated
2 T olive oil
3 T pasta cooking water
salt & pepper to taste

In a blender or food processor combine basil, spinach, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan. Pulse a time or two to finely mince ingredients. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Pulse until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Boil water and cook your pasta according to the package's directions. When pasta is al dente, reserve 3-4 T pasta water before draining the pasta. Slowly add pasta water to pesto, one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Spoon onto pasta and serve!

On a side note, you can always add in some other ingredients to make it even tastier. I added halved grape tomatoes and cubed fresh mozzarella. Other ideas are sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, grilled chicken...


White Christmas Chili

>> Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I decided to make this chili in honor of the snow we had in Central Texas last weekend. My friend Lora made it for a potluck party we had over a year ago and I just stumbled onto the recipe last week - perfect timing for the snow day!

This white chili is a nice switch from the traditional red beef chili. It's really more of a chicken and white soup since it didn't seem as thick and hearty as chili normally is. Regardless of its classification, it was an outstanding soup! So flavorful with just a bit of heat from the chilis and cayenne pepper. Andrew and I both ate two bowls of it last night!

White Christmas Chili
1 1/4 lb chicken tenders or breasts
1 large onion, chopped and divided
2 T butter
3 celery ribs, diced
3 (16 oz) cans white beans (I used navy beans), drained, rinsed and divided
1 (10.5 oz) can cream of chicken soup
2 (4 oz) cans chopped green chilies
6 c chicken broth (I used low sodium)
1 t cumin
3/4 t garlic powder
1 bay leaf
3/4 t salt
1/8 t cayenne pepper

To serve: cilantro, shredded cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar and monterey pepper jack)

Fill a large pot half full of water and place over medium-high heat. Place chicken and half of the chopped onion in the water. Season with some salt and pepper. Cook 15 to 18 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken, cut into bite-size pieces and set aside. Discard water. (You can use it in place of the chicken broth but I don't like the fatty bits that float in it so I always trash it in favor of boxed chicken broth. I know, I know, I'm stupid to get rid of homemade chicken stock but we all have our flaws.)

Melt butter in the bottom of the pot. Add celery and remaining onion and saute until tender. Stir in chicken, 2 cans of white beans, cream of chicken soup, green chilies, chicken broth, cumin, garlic powder, bay leaf, salt and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Process remaining can of beans in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. (I added a couple of spoonfuls of chicken broth to the beans so that they processed more easily.) Stir bean puree into chili.

Remove and discard bay leaf. Top with chopped fresh cilantro and shredded cheeses. Serve with cornbread muffins and enjoy!


Chicken Scallopine with Saffron Cream Sauce

I've had this in my recipe binder for over a year and I just got around to trying it this evening. While I enjoyed it, I didn't like it as much as Andrew did. He told me, no less than three times, how great it was. His reaction cemented this recipe's place in my permanent dinner rotation menu!


Oreo Truffles

>> Monday, March 1, 2010

Scrumptious! These truffles are sooooo good! They're crunchy on the outside but the insides are so creamy and smooth. They look elegant and gourmet - no one needs to know they only have three ingredients!

Per other reviewers, I chilled the truffles before I coated them in chocolate. Also, I used Almond Bark instead of Baker's chocolate since I've had better success with it in the past.


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