Monday, June 30, 2008

Honey-Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders

Last week, after searching through my older Cooking Light cookbook, I came across a bunch of recipes that sounded tasty and were good for you. One of those was the honey-pecan crusted chicken. I made this using chicken tenders instead of the breasts and drumsticks the recipe called for, and it was delicious! It also cooked extrememly quickly since the tenders were so skinny. Chad and I both thought that these would be great on a salad.

Honey-Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders

boneless, skinless chicken tenders
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 1/4 cups finely crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400. Sprinkle salt and pepper over chicken. Combine honey, mustard, paprika and garlic in a small bowl. Combine cornflakes and pecans in a shallow dish (I crushed up the cornflakes and pecans together in my mini food processor). Brush both sides of chicken with honey mixture; dredge in cornflake mixture. Place chicken on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat the chicken with cooking spray. Cook at 400 for 15 minutes or until done.

Banana-Pineapple Bread, the light version

I submitted my mom's banana-pineapple bread to one of the What's Cooking recipe exchanges, and it was made with rave reviews by Lauren. I had one lonely black banana, so I thought I would make banana bread muffins, but since I already had cheesecake this weekend I wanted to make them light. A few substitutions, and voila! The same deliciousness with less fat and sugar.

Banana-Pineapple Bread Muffins

(I halved my usual recipe and made 6 muffins)

1/2 cup Splenda
1/4 cup applesauce
1 egg
1 overripe banana, mashed
1 cup Bisquick
1/4 cup crushed pineapple
nuts (if you want them...I made 1/2 and 1/2)

Preheat oven to 350. Beat first 3 ingredients until fluffy. Add banana and mix well. Add Bisquick and pineapple and beat until all ingredients are incorporated. Add nuts if wanted. Spoon mixture into greased measuring cups and bake for 30 minutes. Best served warm with butter!

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Ok, so I'm supposed to be eating healthy, but I had blueberries in the fridge I needed to use, company coming in town and it was the weekend. You have to indulge every now and then! I watched Tyler Florence make these a few weeks ago and thought they looked good, and they were! Creamy, very lemony with a touch of blueberries. I would put even more blueberries on these next time.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Tyler Florence's recipe, directly from Food Network.

For the base:
Butter, for greasing
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
9 graham crackers
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
2 lemons, zested and juiced
About 1/2 cup sugar, eyeball it
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

For the base:

Grease the bottom of a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with butter. Then place parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners. In a food processor, process the sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Pour into the lined baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done set aside to cool.

For the filling:

Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency. Pour onto the cooled base and then cover with blueberries. They will sink slightly but should still be half exposed -- as the cake bakes they will sink a little more and break down.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Once set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into 10 rectangular bars. Dust with powdered sugar.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Garden Frittata

On to day #3 of healthy eating, and Cooking Light's Summer Garden Frittata. This was delicious, and very easy to make; another great weeknight dinner. The tomato topping really made the whole dish. I will make this again for dinner, experimenting with different veggie combinations, and it would be great for a weekend breakfast. The portion size is big...this was only supposed to feed two but we had a quarter of it left over. I served it with roasted asparagus.

Summer Garden Frittata

1 cup chopped tomato
2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried basil (fresh is definitely best)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup cooked small seashell macaroni (about 1/2 cup uncooked)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
5 large egg whites, lightly beaten (I used egg beaters in place of eggs)
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons reduced-calorie margarine (I used butter...I don't like margarine!)
Cooking spray
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups diced zucchini
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 450°.

Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; stir well. Set aside. Combine macaroni and next 4 ingredients (macaroni though egg yolk) in a medium bowl; stir well. Set aside.

Melt margarine over medium heat in a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet coated with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; sauté 4 minutes. Add zucchini; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in macaroni mixture; spread evenly in bottom of skillet. Cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until almost set.

(If using a skillet with a plastic handle, wrap handle of skillet with foil.) Place skillet in oven, and bake at 450° for 5 minutes or until almost set. Sprinkle with cheese; bake an additional minute or until cheese melts. (Oops, I'm just reading this and realized I put the cheese on before I put it in the oven!) Top each serving with 1/2 cup tomato mixture.

2 servings

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 329(30% from fat); FAT 10.9g (sat 4.3g,mono 3.5g,poly 1.7g); IRON 2.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 125mg; CALCIUM 250mg; CARBOHYDRATE 34.4g; SODIUM 656mg; PROTEIN 23g; FIBER 3.8g

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa

I've been wanting to make fish tacos for a while, and that was my plan for this week...but when I went to the grocery store they had a huge bag of shrimp on sale for $4.99, so my fish tacos became shrimp tacos. The mango salsa is from my friend Amber (who served it with must fancier tuna steaks), and the slaw I just kind of made up on my own. These were pretty good, but I think I would have like flour tortilla betters. Damn those whole wheat tortillas being better for you! This made 4 tacos with a little extra salsa left over.

Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa

For shrimp:
28 medium shrimp
Emeril's essence
quarter of a lime
olive oil

For mango salsa:
1 mango, finely diced
4 big spoonfuls crushed pineapple with juice
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
1/2 jalepeno, seeded and finely diced
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey
juice from 1/2 lime
finely chopped cilantro to taste

For cabbage slaw:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vinegar
1/4 tsp sugar
chili powder to taste
coleslaw mix

4 tortillas, heated

Make the mango salsa the night before or at least in the morning before dinner so the flavors have time to blend. Just mix all the ingredients and chill.

For the cabbage slaw, mix mayo, sour cream, vinegar, sugar and chili powder together. Add coleslaw and stir (you want it to be pretty creamy, so just add coleslaw mix a little at a time until you think it's right).

Heat a pan on medium high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with some olive oil, the juice of the lime, and as much Emeril's essence as you like...more for hot, less for mild. Cook shrimp about 5 minutes.

Spread slaw on tortilla, top with 7 shrimp and mango salsa.

The start of my healthy week - Bruschetta Chicken

I'm going on a cruise in 2 weeks, so I'm trying to drop those few extra pounds before I go (and because I know I will put on a few pounds with all that yummy food on the boat!). This week, I planned all my meals to be light and healthy but still hopefully satisfying. This is one I've made before, but I decided to leave out my beloved fresh mozzarella cheese for the sake of losing weight. It was very difficult. This is a great weeknight dinner because it comes together in a flash. There are a ton of variations out there that I've seen for bruschetta chicken, and here is mine!

Bruschetta Chicken

4 thin chicken cutlets, marinated in balsamic viniagrette dressing
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, diced
fresh basil, chiffonaded
olive oil

Mix the tomatoes, garlic and basil in a small bowl, and add a little olive oil and fresh pepper. I like to do this a few hours prior to dinner and let it set in the fridge. When ready to eat, heat a skillet on medium high heat. Cook chicken on both sides until done. Remove from pan and keep warm. Add tomato mixture to pan and cook about 1 minute until warmed. Serve tomato topping on chicken.

I served this with zucchini...I sliced it into long thin planks, and threw it in a big plastic bag with olive oil and lots of lemon pepper. Bake at 400 on a cookie sheet for however long the chicken takes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Scallops Provencal

I absolutely love scallops, and when I saw this recipe on Kelly's blog, I knew I had to make them. I had a bag of bay scallops that we caught last year in Keaton during scallop season, so I was ready to go. This was good and light, and a great way to use the bay scallops. We find that they are hard to cook because they are so small and can over cook really easily. Bay scallops are wonderful with pasta. Next time I make this, I think I will use chicken broth along with the wine because it was a bit strong.

Scallops Provencal

1 lb of fresh bay or sea scallops
Salt and freshly ground pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
4 tbsp of butter
1/2 cup of chopped shallots (2 large)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp dried parsley leaves
3/4 cup of dry white wine
1 lemon, cut in 1/2
pasta of choice, cooked al dente (I used angel hair)

Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper, toss with flour, and shake off the excess.

In a very large saute pan, heat 2 tbsp of the butter over high heat until sizzling and add the scallops in one layer. Lower the heat to medium and allow the scallops to brown lightly on one side without moving them. Then turn and brown lightly on the other side. This should only take 3-4 minutes. Add the rest of the butter to the pan with the scallops, then add the shallots, garlic and parsley and saute for 2 more minutes, tossing the scallops with the seasoning. Add the white wine, simmer for 5-6 minutes, stirring slowly and letting the wine reduce. If you have lemon, squeeze the lemon on the scallops and serve over the noodles with fresh parmigan cheese.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tag, I'm it!

My good friend Kelly at My Sweet Life tagged me earlier this week! I feel like a kid on the PE field who was waiting to get picked for a team...I've seen this in other people's blogs and wanted someone to pick me, pick me! Thanks Kelly for making me feel like a member of the cool kids club =)

The rules:
Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What was I doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago I had just finished up my sophomore year at Florida State University. I was home in Orlando for the summer working with my best friend Karen at a little restaurant called Julie's.

What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today?
Well, the day is almost over but here is what my list was this morning...
1. was Teacher Interview Day
2. Go to the gym...I've been so good lately!
3. Update my blog
4. Dentist...yuck
5. Out to dinner with Chad and my MIL

Five snacks I enjoy:
1. Cheese
2. Wheat thins
3. Chips and homemade onion dip
4. Cape Cod dark russet chips
5. Strawberries or grapes

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Pay off debt
2. Buy an awesome house (actually, 2 houses - 1 in Tampa, 1 in Orlando)
3. Travel a LOT
4. Help out family
5. Donate to charity

Places I've lived:
Most recent listed first...
1. Tampa, FL
2. Orlando, FL
3. Ft. Lauderdale, FL
4. Tallahassee, FL
5. Orlando, FL

Jobs I've had:
Most recent listed first...
1. Assistant principal
2. Teacher
3. Catering/Convention Services Assistant
4. Wedding Planner
5. Assistant Buyer

Tag, now you're it!

Ashlee from A Year in the Kitchen
Amber from Amber's Delectable Delights
Ally from Culinary Infatuation
Cara from Cara's Cravings
Lauren from Lauren's Kitchen

Chicken Marbella

My mom made this dish a couple of months ago and said it was so good...I've been wanting to try it ever since. I invited some friends over for dinner so I would have an occasion to make it, and now I wish I hadn't waited so long! This is one of the best chicken dishes I've had in a long time, and will be an addition to my "favorite meal" cooking rotation. It's a very good meal to make for company, because you can prep it all the night before and just throw it in the oven when you're ready to start dinner. And I highly recommend mashed potatoes as a side...the pan juices were great on the potatoes.

Chicken Marbella

1 whole chicken, cut up (this dish really needs skin-on chicken to keep the meat moist)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Italian seasoning
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup dried apples
1/2 cup craisins
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
1 bag carrots, peeled and julienned

Combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, garlic and dried fruit in a bowl. Place the chicken in a large bowl with lid. Pour olive oil mixture on top of the chicken, and let marinate in fridge overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 375. Arrange carrots on the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place chicken and marinade with fruit on top. Sprinkle with brown sugar, and pour wine around chicken. Cover with foil. Bake for 50 minutes, occasionally basting with juices. Remove foil and cook for 10 more minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

TWD: La Palette's Strawberry Tart

I love fruit desserts, so I was excited when the pick for Tuesday's with Dorie was a strawberry tart. I was also looking forward to making homemade dough...a first for me! This was definitely a learning experience, and there were a few moments when I was worried that it wasn't going to turn out well. I started with the crust, which took forever to mix into what I expect a dough mixture to look like. The receipe said after you put the butter in, it should have crumbles the size of peas and oatmeal...weird way to put it, but ok...after 10 minutes of mixing (well, really probably only 4 or 5 but it felt long!) still no peas and oatmeal. I mixed it a little with my hands and turned the mixer back on and voila! It resembled crust dough. Who knows how that happened, but whatever I did worked.

I pressed it into my new tart pan, and put it in the fridge to be ready to bake for my dinner guests the next day.

Then I started reading other TWDer's experiences with the crust, and panicked. So many people said their crust was hard and crumbly, and they thought it was because they pressed it in the pan too hard. I tried to gently press the dough in and leave it so "the edges of the pieces cling to one another" but doesn't lose the crumbly texture...that is easier said than done. I figured there was no changing it now, and I just hoped for the best. Into the oven in went.

At this point I was joined by my favorite baking friend Kelly, and we continued on with the tart. She thought it smelled great as it was baking and I have to agree. I let it cool to room temperature while she cut the strawberries, and then we were ready to put on the jam.

I thought that if it was really hard, putting the jam on a couple of hours before eating it might soften it up a bit. Kelly and I both thought that this tart was already looking delish (as was that glass of wine in the background).

Now on to the whipped cream. Since this is a very simple tart, I thought it was important to use high quality ingredients, and therefore I should make homemade whipped cream. I was worried that I wouldn't like it because I do like my whipped cream sweet, but I just added more sugar and it was perfect. It took Kelly and I a little while to figure it out, but now I know you just have to let it mix for a LONG time to get creamy...and I shouldn't stress out too much about it turning to butter =)

Homemade Whipped Cream (also from Dorie)
1 1/2 cups very cold heavy cream
6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Mix the cream and sugar slowly together until the cream starts to thicken. Start slow and increase the speed as the cream gains texture. Based on other tips I saw, I put my mixer bowl and beater in the freezer for a bit before I started. I made this ahead of time, and it held up just fine in the fridge until we were ready for dessert.

Finally, after our fabulous dinner (see above) and some fun game time, we were ready for the tart. It was well worth the wait! I absolutely loved this tart, and will make it again and again. I'm excited to try new fruit variations.

From Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours
See the recipe here