Monthly Archives: January 2013

Turkey Panini with Citrus Aioli

I have to admit, I’m not the biggest sandwich person.  Aside from the occasional Wawa junior hoagie, I don’t desire a sandwich very often.  At lunchtime, I usually get so cold in my office that I need something warm and cold sandwiches don’t usually cut it.  Sometimes, however, a warm panini with gooey cheese can be the perfect solution.  Since sandwiches are paired so perfectly with soup I thought this Turkey Panini with Citrus Aioli would be a great complement to the Winter Tomato Soup I posted on Monday.

Smoked turkey slices and provolone cheese are the base to this sandwich which I topped with baby spinach instead of watercress (because I had a huge tub of spinach on hand).  Adding a fresh and citrusy touch, an aioli made simply with mayonnaise, lemon and lime zests, garlic and lemon juice is lightly layered on the bread before topping it with the turkey and cheese.  This panini, which can be grilled on either a grill pan or a panini maker, is a great twist on the standard turkey sandwich.  If you have turkey and cheese in your fridge and you just don’t want another plain old sandwich, consider this.  It doesn’t matter what kind of turkey or cheese you use or even if you don’t have any leafy greens.  If you love mayonnaise like me, grab a lemon and a lime and whip up some of this citrus aioli for a yummy condiment to any sandwich.

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The ingredients:

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Combine mayonnaise, lemon, lime, pepper and garlic and spread evenly over half the bread slices.

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Top evenly with turkey, watercress (or spinach), cheese, and remaining bread slices.

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Coat a grill pan or panini maker heated to medium-high heat with cooking spray.  Arrange 2 sandwiches in pan.  If using a grill pan, place a cast-iron or heavy skillet on top of sandwiches and press gently to flatten.  Cook 2 minutes on each side (leave cast-iron skillet on sandwiches while they cook).

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Repeat procedure with remaining sandwiches.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Baby spinach
  • Light mayonnaise
  • Reduced-fat provolone cheese
  • Whole-wheat bread

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

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Winter Tomato Soup

It’s been frigid in the Philadelphia area the last several days and on Friday we got a blanket of snow to boot.  Since we can’t survive off of mug after mug of hot cocoa, why not make a big pot of warm, comfortable soup?  This Winter Tomato Soup just seemed like the perfect dish to make when I just couldn’t seem to warm up.

Made with canned diced tomatoes and tomato paste, this simple soup also has a little milk and non-fat Greek yogurt which gives it a slightly creamy, velvety touch.  If you are expecting a taste similar to Campbell’s Tomato Soup out of the can, you will be disappointed.  No matter how great that canned stuff is, this vegetarian soup is a much lighter and more fresh option (only 76 calories a serving too!).  I’ve never attempted tomato soup before now because honestly I grew up on that Campbell’s soup and love it.  But this was a nice bowl of soup that paired perfectly with a sandwich (which I’ll have for you later this week).

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The ingredients:

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Heat olive oil in medium saucepan. Cook onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.

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Add tomato paste, sugar, thyme, bay leaf, tomatoes, and 2 cups water. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.

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Remove bay leaf. Use a handheld blender to puree the soup in the saucepan, or transfer soup to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. (If you’re using a standard blender, allow the mixture to cool first; hot liquid may cause the blender to squirt out contents. Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to do this in batches.)

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Heat milk in microwave for 30 seconds to warm, and then stir it into the pureed soup along with yogurt. Mix well.

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Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Women’s Health Magazine

Garlicky Asparagus

It’s January so that typically means that we have all made some resolutions which as this point we are still sticking to or already caved on already days ago.  I made a deal with myself (again) to eat more fruits and vegetables which really shouldn’t be as hard as it has been.  I bought a box of clementines and ate about 4 before I saw one get slightly molding so I threw the rest away.  Last night I ate leftover blackened chicken and boxed macaroni and cheese with nary a veggie in sight while a bag of unopened broccoli I bought last weekend still sights comfortably tucked away in my refridgerator’s produce drawer.  This is the problem with resolutions:  the intent is good but the reality is a struggle.  At least once this week though I did make one simple vegetable side dish: Garlicky Asparagus.

Crisp asparagus is steamed until perfectly bright green before being simply sauteed with sliced garlic and olive oil.  Seasoned with nothing else but salt and pepper, this flavorful side dish is perfect as a side to chicken, steak or added into a little pasta or on top of a healthy salad.  Asparagus doesn’t just have to be eaten in the spring so if you see it on sale this winter, grab some.  If you are like me, sometimes you need something green other than broccoli.

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The ingredients:

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Steam asparagus 4 minutes or until crisp-tender.

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While asparagus steams, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic; cook 2 minutes or until fragrant, stirring frequently.

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Add asparagus, salt, and pepper; toss to combine.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Herbed Ricotta Tart

Sometimes I think I could just change this blog to “A Fork In Each Tart”.  Every time I make a tart, I devour it.  I think I could eat them every single day.   And there are so many different ways to make a savory tart.  My favorite so far is Summer Squash and Ricotta Galette.  A thisclose second is Rustic Summer Squash Tart.  Both of those tarts are made with refrigerated pie crust (easy peasy!) and are so, so good that I really have to stop myself from eating the entire tart by myself in one sitting.  I came across this Herbed Ricotta Tart and didn’t expect it to be as good as the other two tarts because a) it uses pizza crust instead of pie crust and b) it only has scallions and herbs.  But once again, yet another tart did not disappoint.  I devoured this one just as easily as the others.

Scallions, chives and dill are mixed with ricotta and eggs, poured onto pizza dough and topped with parmesan cheese before being baked until golden brown.  The scallions and chives do not overpower this vegetarian tart but instead provide a subtle onion flavor.  Any herb, such as thyme or basil, would be great substitutes or additions here also.  That is the great thing about tarts – any mixture of herbs and vegetables will work perfectly.  And trust me, this tart is good cold right out of the fridge like cold pizza.  If you haven’t jumped on the tart train yet, please get onboard.

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The ingredients:

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Unroll dough and press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch round removable-bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray or mold into a square or circle, carefully rolling up the sides (as I did) onto a baking sheet.

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Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add thinly sliced green onions to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Combine cooked green onions, ricotta cheese, sliced fresh chives, minced fresh dill, salt, freshly ground black pepper, eggs, and egg white.

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Pour onion mixture into prepared crust; sprinkle mixture with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 35 minutes or until center is set. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 6 wedges.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

Every once in a while I end up making a recipe that is so simple and classic that I wonder why in the world I haven’t attempted to do this before?  This Quick Chicken Noodle Soup is perfect in its simplicity while being light yet filling at the same time.  When it’s winter and cold outside, what’s a better meal to have than a warm bowl of soup?  And when you aren’t feeling good, what’s better than a warm bowl of comfort?

Chicken, noodles, carrot, celery and onion are mixed in one big pot with broth and water and the perfect pot of soup comes together.  Any pasta or noodle will work here, like rotini or orzo, but I chose to use no-yolk egg noodles which worked perfectly.  Also, I used precooked chicken but this would be a perfect use for leftover chicken breast since it makes the soup come together than much faster.  Flat leaf parsley added at the end brings a fresh flavor boost so I wouldn’t leave it out.  Flavored with nothing more than salt and pepper, this soup is a keeper which I will make over and over.

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The ingredients:

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Combine 2 cups water and chicken broth in a microwave-safe dish, and microwave at HIGH for 5 minutes.  While broth mixture heats, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add onion, celery, salt, pepper, and carrot; sauté 3 minutes or until almost tender, stirring frequently.

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Add hot broth mixture and pasta; bring to a boil.  Cook 7 minutes or until pasta is almost al dente.

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Stir in chicken; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.

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Stir in parsley.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • No-yolk egg noodles
  • Precooked chicken strips

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Cajun Hot Crab Dip

You know when you want to make a dish for a get-together and you don’t really have much time to get something made?  That’s when I turn to dips.  Whether you want a cold dip or a hot dip, they generally take the same amount of time to make (since cold dips need time in the fridge for the flavors to meld).  What’s especially great about dips is all the ingredients can usually be mixed together in one bowl and while it’s either chilling or baking, you can take care of whatever else needs to be done before the event.  This Cajun Hot Crab Dip is a warm, comforting dip which is perfect for any shindig.

Crab, shallots, garlic, hot sauce, Cajun seasoning and water are blended before being added to more crab, mayonnaise, cream cheese and lemon.  A crunchy topping of panko and chives (which I added later so it isn’t in the pics) gives this low-calorie dip a crunchy final coating.  Before buying Cajun seasoning, take a look online for homemade recipes because you might have everything you already need without adding another spice bottle in your cabinet.  Try this dip on baguette slices or with pita or pretzel chips.  One of my friends said this dip tastes like a crab cake so if you like crab cakes, you’ll probably like this.

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The ingredients:

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Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and coat pan with cooking spray.  Add shallots and garlic to pan; cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

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Place 1 cup crab in a food processor.  Add the shallot mixture, 1/4 cup water, pepper sauce, and Cajun seasoning to crab; process until smooth.

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Spoon mixture into a large bowl, and stir in remaining crab, mayonnaise, cream cheese, red pepper, salt and pepper.

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Transfer the mixture to a 1-quart glass or ceramic casserole dish coated lightly with cooking spray.  Combine panko and chives in a small bowl; sprinkle over crab mixture.  Coat panko mixture with cooking spray. Bake at in a preheated 450°F oven for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving as this dip will be very hot.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Light mayonnaise

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Two-Bean Harvest Chili

Growing up, I always heard that you should eat ham and beans for New’s Years Day because it meant good luck.  But I don’t eat ham (well, maybe I do, that’s a story for another day) so I’m relying on beans to work their magic today.  After all, after the last year I’ve had, I could use all the luck in the world.  Beans are lucky, so they say, because they resemble coins and therefore promote fortune and wealth.  Similarly, cooked greens are also considered good luck because they resemble folded money.  Chicken, which I eat a ton of, is what you are not supposed to eat because they scratch backwards and can promote regret or dwelling on the past.  Who knew?  Luckily, this vegetarian Two-Bean Harvest Chili is full of beans and collard greens so it should be a perfect New Year’s Day good luck meal.

Black beans and pinto beans provide hearty comfort to this chili while fire-roasted tomatoes give a rich smoky flavor that permeates every bite.  Carrots, onion, and collard greens add some fresh bulk making this a satisfying and healthy meal to start to the New Year.  Rather than using one 28-ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes, I used one 14-ounce can mixed with one 14-ounce can of plain diced tomatoes.  Fire-roasted pack a ton of flavor but a little goes a long way.  Collard greens, which are slightly bitter but can easily withstand heat without wilting too much, can easily be substituted with kale, escarole or spinach (just don’t leave it out – cooked greens are good luck!)  Whether you believe in tales of good luck and fortune or not, I hope the coming year treats you well and I wish each and every one of you a very happy and healthy New Year!  Now, show me the money!

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The ingredients:

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In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat.  Add onion, carrots, garlic,  and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cook 8 to 10 minutes or until golden and tender, stirring  occasionally.

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Add collard greens and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until bright green and just tender, stirring.

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Stir in chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook 1 minute, stirring.

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Stir in tomatoes and beans.  Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Divide among 4 bowls; top with sour cream or plain yogurt.

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Additions:

  • Reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese (topping)

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Fat-free plain Greek yogurt

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Good Housekeeping Magazine

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