Monthly Archives: May 2014

Spring Strawberry Pie

Sorry for the long silence but I was in Chicago enjoying the awesome weather and stunning Lake Michigan up through this past long weekend and I’ve been in total vacation mode. Can you believe Memorial Day was yesterday? It seemed like the winter was never going to be over and I still worry, despite the fact that it is almost June, that there is still a lingering snowstorm somewhere. Because yesterday was Memorial Day, we like to think that the summer has started but it’s really still Spring for about another three weeks. Maybe you went to a picnic yesterday and ate a lot or maybe you just laid low and celebrated the life of a veteran but no matter what you did, enjoy life this week with something Springy and sweet like this Spring Strawberry Pie.

Strawberries are sliced and cooked with a little balsamic vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch creating a chunky, thickened strawberry mixture similar to preserves. This mixture is poured over fresh strawberries and a freshly baked graham cracker crust and topped with a quick crumble of additional graham cracker crumbs, almonds and sugar. Once refrigerated, this pie is ready to be served, especially with a giant dollop of whipped cream, low-fat or regular. Balsamic vinegar and strawberries pair so well together and the vinegar melts away leaving only a complementary flavor and not overly bold taste. This pie is light and scrumptious. My strawberries were still pretty huge so if you can find small ones, all the better (just cut bigger berries in half or quarters). If you don’t feel like making your own crust, you can easily buy a pre-made graham cracker crust to save time.  The strawberries are the real star here (even though I’m a complete sucker for any kind of crust) so if you need to take a short cut, go ahead. This pie is a perfect little treat that takes advantage of strawberries which seem to be so abundant right now. Got too many from the farmer’s market? Meet this pie.

DSC05087Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar in a bowl, tossing with a fork until moist. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes; cool on a wire rack.

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To prepare the filling, combine strawberry slices and vinegar in a medium nonstick skillet. Place the berry mixture over medium-high heat; cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/4 cup sugar. Combine the water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to pan, and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in juice. Cool completely.

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Arrange whole strawberries, stem sides down, in crust. Pour cooled strawberry mixture over whole strawberries. Cover loosely, and chill 4 hours.

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To prepare the topping, combine 3 tablespoons cracker crumbs, nuts, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons melted butter in a small bowl. Place crumb mixture in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes or until golden brown; cool.

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Sprinkle crumb mixture over pie. Top each serving with whipped topping.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

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Huevos Rancheros Tacos

I hope everyone out there got a chance to spend the day with their moms or mom-figures yesterday. Or if you didn’t get to spend the day with them, I hope you at least got to reach out to them in some way. Mother’s Day is never easy for me and seems to get harder every year. I would give anything in the world to hug my mom one more time and tell her I love her. But since I can’t, I’m happy that I have my wonderful aunt who I can reach out to anytime I need to. In honor of her, yesterday I made these Huevos Rancheros Tacos.  These may not seem like typical brunch fare to some of you, but to my aunt and I, they totally are.

Corn tortillas are broiled with cheese and black beans before being topped with a fried egg, avocado and pico de gallo. This is such a quick and easy dish to make in a morning or even for a quick dinner. Since I’m all about eggs for dinner, this is something that is right up my alley. I chopped up regular tomatoes in lieu of the pico de gallo and left out the Mexican crema but still got all of the flavors of huevos rancheros I wanted. Since my aunt is in Chicago and I’m in Philadelphia, I ate this dish without her but told her about it when I called to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. Every mom deserves a meal made for her.  Even if she’s not your mom.

DSC05073Preheat broiler to high. Arrange tortillas on a baking sheet; lightly coat tortillas with cooking spray. Broil 2 minutes; remove pan from oven. Turn tortillas over. Top each tortilla with 2 tablespoons cheese and 2 tablespoons beans. Broil 1 minute or until cheese melts. Remove from oven.

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Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Crack eggs into pan; cook 2 minutes. Cover and cook 2 minutes or until whites are set.

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Place 1 egg in center of each tortilla; sprinkle with pepper. Top tacos evenly with pico de gallo, crema, avocado, and cilantro. Serve with lime.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Mexican crema

Substitutions:

  • Vine-ripened tomatoes for pico de gallo

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Lime-Spiked Black Bean Dip

It’s Cinco de Mayo so what are you planning on eating today?  Burritos?  Enchiladas?  Fajitas?  Tacos?  Mexican food is so good but can be really terrible for you, especially because so much of the Americanized Mexican food available to us is loaded with ooey gooey melted cheese.  But the good thing is, Mexican food can easily be made low-fat at home by substituting low-fat cheese, low-fat sour cream, healthy beans and lots of veggies.  As tempted as I was to make a big Mexican meal, I decided to keep things a little simple with an easy bold and healthy dip.  This Lime-Spiked Black Bean Dip is a healthy way to enjoy some Mexican food on this Cinco de Mayo without a)breaking the bank or b)spending hours on the elliptical machine working it off.

Canned black beans are whirled in a food processor until smooth (but not too smooth – chunks of beans make for awesome texture) and combined with grated carrots, fresh lime juice, scallions, garlic, and cilantro.  A little salt and cayenne pepper add seasoning to beans which can typically be pretty bland (I used low-sodium black beans so I could control the salt content).  I really love the addition of the grated carrot because it provides a fat-free crunch while the scallion gives a fantastic mild onion flavor.  And the lime – it really brings this dip to life.  This is a thick dip, especially if it’s been in the refrigerator for a bit so add a little water or black bean juice if you ‘d prefer it to be more “dippy”.  If you don’t like cilantro, you can leave it out but it provides an herby flavor that is so good in Mexican food.  Serve with tortilla chips and you’ve got a healthy vegetarian snack or appetizer than would also be great folded into a tortilla for a light lunch.

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Place beans in a food processor, and pulse until almost smooth.

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Combine the beans, carrot, and the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring until well blended. Let stand 30 minutes.

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Serve with baked tortilla chips.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light magazine

 

Sweet BBQ Chicken Salad

Happy May Day! Summer will be here before we know it so if you find yourself craving a salad, isn’t it good to embrace it? Craving salad doesn’t happen to me often but when it does, I appreciate salad so much.  I was in Tampa visiting friends last weekend and even though we didn’t go crazy with what we ate, we did manage to eat lots of Bombay chicken salad, crackers and cheese.  Oh and wine.  Lots and lots of wine.  Since I’ve been pretty much depriving my body of the food I’ve been craving lately, why not give in to the craving for a salad? This Sweet BBQ Chicken Salad satisfied my craving for salad without being too salad-y or too bad for me (like most salads are these days).

Bright green leaf lettuce, fruit, red peppers, and rotisserie chicken are tossed together for a bright dish.  A dressing made of bottled barbecue sauce, fresh orange juice, tangy mustard and red wine vinegar is drizzled to taste, making this the lightest and freshest barbecue chicken salad I’ve ever had.  My grocery store isn’t carrying peaches or nectarines just yet so I used a crisp Macintosh apple instead (use any fruit you like).  A little dusting of reduced-fat cheddar cheese tops the whole salad but you could leave it off (or load it on) if you like. The barbecue isn’t too sweet, despite the title of the recipe, and a little goes a long way. The combination of the sauce, chicken and fresh fruit and vegetables provides everything I like in a salad so I was happy this made a lot.  I ate it for days.

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In large bowl, whisk together barbecue sauce, orange juice, mustard, vinegar, salt, and black pepper.

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To same bowl, add lettuce, chicken, nectarines, and red pepper, tossing to coat and divide among 4 serving plates. Or, layer ingredients onto plates and drizzle with barbecue sauce mixture.

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Sprinkle with cheddar.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Apple for nectarine

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Good Housekeeping magazine

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