Monthly Archives: September 2011

Birthday Cake Martini

My Friday cocktail this week, Birthday Cake Martini, is especially made in honor of my dear cousin, Meredith, whose 20-something birthday is today.  I don’t like traditional martinis as I don’t like olives but I don’t mind a sweet martini like this one once in a while.  Flavored vodkas are now all the rage and you can get them in pretty much any flavor you want (including whipped cream and cotton candy).  This martini includes cake-flavored vodka, chocolate liqueur, half and half, and a little bit of dry vanilla cake mix.  Shake the ingredients with ice, pour into a martini glass and top with whipped cream and sprinkles if you choose.  Happy Birthday, Meredith!  This one’s for you!

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Fat-free half & half

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Pinnacle Vodka Website

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Spinach, Apple, and Walnut Salad

If you’ve been paying attention, this week I’ve eaten peanut butter blondies, cheesy enchiladas and pizza.  Um, wasn’t I supposed to be watching my weight?  Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for a salad?  I certainly think so!  This time of year brings out my love affair for apples, particularly McIntosh, so I decided to grab a couple and make Spinach, Apple, and Walnut Salad.  This salad mixes together baby spinach (I used spring mixed greens), chopped apples, toasted walnuts, and goat cheese (I used feta) and is flavored with a light lemon-honey vinaigrette.  The apples are tart yet sweet, the toasted walnuts add a little crunch, and the feta provides a slight tang.  This is one filling and tasty salad that isn’t boring and won’t leave you feeling hungry afterward.

The ingredients:

Chop the apples and mix with lemon juice to prevent browning.

In a bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper.

Mix the greens and apples in a separate bowl.  Drizzle with vinaigrette.

Toast the walnuts in a small pan over medium heat.

Add the toasted walnuts and feta to the salad.  That’s it!

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Spring mixed greens
  • Reduced-fat feta cheese

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Real Simple Magazine

Pizza Supreme

We’ve all done it.  Gotten home from work and craved pizza so we picked up the phone and called the nearby pizza joint.  Afterall, when that craving hits, it’s either that or one of those dreaded, dull cardboard-ish disks known as the frozen pizza, right?  Wrong!  You can make pizza at home in the same amount of time (or less!) than it takes for a pizza to be delivered.  Last night I made Pizza Supreme – refrigerated pizza dough, topped with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, red and orange peppers, mushrooms and turkey sausage.  Cutting of the veggies: 5 minutes.  Browning of the sausage:  3 minutes.  Cooking of the veggies: 5 minutes.  Assembly of the pizza: 2 minutes.  Bake time:  8 minutes (according to the recipe, it should take 15 but my thin crust was toasty brown after 8).  Total time until pizza was in my mouth: 23 minutes!  And it tasted…wait for it…supreme!  Making your own pizza allows you to control the oil, the sauce, and the cheese and it’s a great use for whatever veggies (or meat) that might be lurking around in the fridge.  And another benefit?  You won’t be left with a bellyache!  I mean, unless you eat the whole thing.  Which…is easy to do.

Question:  What are your favorite pizza toppings?

The ingredients:

Brown the turkey sausage in olive oil.

Add peppers, mushrooms, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes.

While the veggies cook, roll out pizza dough on a baking sheet and top with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese. 

Then add the veggie-sausage mixture.

Bake at 500° until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.  Slice and enjoy!

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Shallot instead of onion

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

When I told a friend I was going to make enchiladas, she said, “Wow, isn’t that hard?”  Enchiladas may seem like one of those meals you only order in a restaurant but they are actually very easy to make.  These Easy Chicken Enchiladas really are simple…and delicious.  The recipe says to boil the chicken but I baked mine in the oven at 350°F for about 15-20 minutes (until the internal temperature of the chicken read 165°F on a meat thermometer).  The filling is a simple mixture of softened onion and poblano pepper, corn, sour cream, chicken, cilantro and cheese.  This mixture is spooned into warmed corn tortillas (just make sure to work with the tortillas quickly as they tend to tear if they get too cool) and topped with enchilada sauce and more cheese.  This recipe actually calls for salsa verde but I substituted enchilada sauce to keep that authentic enchilada flavor (feel free to stick with salsa if you prefer).  I also used a reduced-fat colby-monterey jack cheese blend which still melted nicely in the oven.  When you get the urge for Mexican food, consider making this at home – it’s much healthier than restaurant enchiladas and just as tasty!

Question:  What’s your favorite Mexican meal?

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Canned corn
  • Reduced-fat colby-jack cheese
  • enchilada sauce

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Woman’s Day Magazine

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies

The name of these Peanut Butter Cup Blondies pretty much sums up this dessert.  A simple batter of flour, sugar, butter and eggs is mixed with peanut butter and chocolate chips and topped with chopped up peanut butter cups.  If you love peanut butter and chocolate (or just peanut butter), you should like these bars.   Although they seem decadent, they aren’t overly sweet or buttery and according to Cooking Light each bar has only 153 calories so don’t let guilt consume you.  Next time you get that peanut butter-chocolate craving, consider making these!

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Reduced-fat peanut butter
  • Non-fat milk

Overall Rating:  Love it

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Apple Sangria

Happy Fall!  As you may or may not know, today is the first day of Autumn.  And although some of you may still be in bed today mourning the end of summer, some of us are excited for the best Fall has to offer:  football, MLB playoffs, vibrant leaves, chilly nights, an extra blanket, and homey autumn flavors like the apple, clove, and cinnamon in this Apple Sangria.  The cinnamon and cloves give this sangria that warmth you want when it’s slightly cold outside and sweet honeycrisp apples are a reminder of what autumn does so well.  This cocktail captures the essence of Fall and can be served cold so it’s also perfect for an Indian Summer evening.  Go ahead and grab a jacket, sit outside with a glass of this, throw a nod to Mother Nature and enjoy the cooler weather while you still can.  Before we know it we’ll be begging Fall to hang on just a little longer.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Herb-Crusted Chicken

The herb in this recipe for Herb-Crusted Chicken is fines herbes.  What is fines herbes, you ask?  I didn’t know either and after searching high and low (okay, I really only searched my local grocery store which didn’t carry it), I ended up finding it in a wonderfully aromatic little store in Evanston, Illinois called The Spice House this past weekend.  There is where I learned that fines herbes (pronounced fēn ĕrb) is a French blend of parsley, thyme, tarragon and chervil (a member of the parsley family).  This is a quick and easy chicken dish which can be served with rice and peas like I did, parsley-orzo like Cooking Light did, or a simple salad.  It’s just another way to make chicken when you are tired of the same ol’ ho-hum chicken breasts.  This herb blend is interesting and different and adds a nice flavor – I just hope you find it in your local store and not a two-hour flight away like I did.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

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