Tag Archives: Quick & Easy Recipes

Grilled Onion & Mushroom Salad with Arugula & Goat Cheese

I prepared this side dish to compliment my grill recipe Chicken Pesto Burgers with Tomato Topping, but it would also be excellent with grilled steak or other grilled meats.  It’s easy to prepare and comes together in less than 15 minutes, including the grilling time. It’s FANTASTICO!  This will serve 4 as a side dish.

GATHER THIS:

  • 1 large vidalia onion, peeled, & cut into 8 wedges, leaving part of the root intact
  • 4 oz. white or cremini mushrooms, quartered and stems trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • coarse salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups loosely packed young arugula (large leaves are tough and bitter), rinsed and spun dry
  • 2-4 oz. crumbled goat cheese, as desired (I could eat the whole package with a spoon)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (pignolias)

DO THIS:

Preheat grill to medium.  In a medium bowl, toss together the onion wedges, mushrooms, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and salt and pepper.   Set aside and make the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, sugar; season with coarse salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

Grill for about 10 minutes on a grilling rack or a vegetable basket, or until onions are slightly charred and mushrooms have cooked down a bit. Transfer to a serving bowl.  Allow to cool to room temperature; then toss together with arugula and dressing.  Top with crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle with pine nuts.

Note: if  you are unfamiliar with pine nuts, they usually can be found in the baking section of your grocery store, or with the display of Italian products next to pasta.  To toast, place them in a small skillet over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes or until just golden.

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Filed under French Recipes, From My Own Kitchen, Grilling, Healthy Recipes, Italian-inspired, Quick & Easy, South Beach Phase 1

Chicken Pesto Burgers with Tomato Topping

One of my summer choices for a healthy burger is this recipe – what was originally inspired by a recipe called Chicken Burgers with Warm Mushroom Salad. I thought the original burger recipe itself had potential, so I just changed it up a bit and made it even better.   Admittedly, I do my own thing on the salad –  I don’t think her salad recipe does the burger justice.  I followed the notion of involving mushrooms in the side dish, however, since it is in keeping with the Italian influence and compliments the burger well. Wait till you taste these!

I have to give credit where it’s due.  In her 2003 cookbook,  More Low-Carb Meals in Minutes, Linda Gassenheimer collected and created and some wonderful gourmet-inspired recipes that are appropriate for many of the more popular low-carb diets.  It targets diet crazes such as Protein Power, Atkins, and now, South Beach Diet. I refer back to this book frequently when I am in Phase One of the SBD, for something more inspiring than lean chicken and a pile of roasted vegetables.  This is an excellent supplement for the SBD books because it has beautiful pictures and recipes that are a step up from the menus in the original diet plans, and most are quick and easy to make.  Since that book was published, there have been more, updated versions – equally beautiful and with great new recipes, and I intend to purchase this one called Good Carb Meals in Minutes, which is geared for the latter phases of low-carb diets and appropriate for anyone who just wants to eat healthy, delicious meals and not spend an hour in the kitchen doing so.

My modified recipe takes about 30 minutes, so if you’re using a charcoal grill (which I prefer), light it up and get started.  Makes 6 burgers.

GATHER THIS:

  • 1 lb. package of ground chicken
  • 2 turkey sausage links, casings removed
  • 2 tablespoons refrigerated store-bought pesto sauce
  • coarse salt & fresh ground pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon each
  • 2 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 scallions, tops and bottoms trimmed, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dressing from the Grilled Onion & Mushroom Salad with Arugula & Goat Cheese recipe
  • 6 slices Gouda cheese

DO THIS:

In a large bowl, gently mix together the ground chicken, ground sausage, pesto, salt and pepper.  Take care not to overwork the meat, as is it easy to toughen.  Form into 6 patties, about 4 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Place on a plate or platter and refrigerate until ready to grill and prepare side dishes.

Prepare topping:

In a medium bowl, mix together the tomatoes, scallions, and dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cook burgers: Heat grill to medium.  Oil the grates well with vegetable oil (chicken burgers stick easily). Grill patties, turning only once, about 6-8 minutes per side.  During the last minute of grilling, top burgers with Gouda slices, put cover on grill down until just melted.   Serve on toasted or grilled whole-wheat sandwich buns and top with tomato mixture.  Phase One dieters, serve without buns or open-face with one slice of toasted whole-grain bread.

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Filed under Grilling, Healthy Recipes, Italian-inspired, Kids Favorites, Quick & Easy, South Beach Phase 1

BLT in a Bowl: Salad for South Beach Cravers

I’ve been on South Beach Diet Phase One now for 2 weeks.  Having gone through the phases before, I get bored quickly with the recipes in the book.  Today, I was craving a BLT sandwich.  As the man says, “pork fat rules” (Emeril).  So, I concocted this simple salad to satisfy my craving.  Not only did it come together in five minutes – but it completely satisfied my desire for that delicious bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich that mom used to make – sans the bread.  The recipe that follows makes one serving.

GATHER THIS:

  • 4-5 thin slices good quality Canadian bacon
  • 2 Tablespoons reduced-fat Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons 2% milk
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of coarse salt and fresh black pepper
  • 2 plum tomatoes, large dice
  • 2 cups greens, washed and dried, a choice of mesclun mix, romaine, or Boston lettuce

DO THIS:

Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray (or, alternatively, brush the bottom with a little vegetable oil).  Over medium heat, cook the bacon in the pan until just browned a bit, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer to a paper plate or paper towel to cool slightly, then chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, milk, lemon juice, salt, and pepper for your dressing.

Arrange greens in a serving bowl.  Spoon dressing over greens.  Top with chopped tomatoes and Canadian bacon.

Variations: add diced avocado, chopped hard boiled eggs, or cubed cheese (remember though, this adds more fat content and, in my opinion, is not necessary).   I may try a few slices of cucumber or red onion next time; but for a true craving, I wouldn’t want to interfere too much with the integrity of the original BLT.

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Filed under All Other Recipes, From My Own Kitchen, Healthy Recipes, Quick & Easy, South Beach Phase 1

5-Minute Broccoli Slaw for Grilling

It’s grilling season! I’m always looking for new side dishes that interest me more than the usual cole slaw and potato salad.  When you’re in a hurry, throw this great 5-minute broccoli slaw together and wait for friends and family to ask  for the recipe!  Kid-friendly, and healthy too. Great with grilled burgers, fish, and pork,  or alongside Mexican-inspired main courses.

GATHER THIS:

  • 1/3 cup Hellman’s light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup Daisy light sour cream
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 green onions, tops pulled off, trimmed, and sliced thinly on the diagonal
  • juice of 1 medium lime, freshly squeezed
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar, to taste
  • coarse salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • 10 oz. package of broccoli slaw mix (I like confetti slaw: red and green cabbage, broccoli, carrots)

DO THIS:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients.  Toss in the broccoli slaw mix.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately, or chill for up to 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

What I like best: quick, easy, delicious – and not too sweet – though you can use more sugar or some honey for a little more sweetness if desired.  For South Beach Diet Phase I, substitute Splenda for sugar.

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Filed under Budget Friendly, From My Own Kitchen, Grilling, Healthy Recipes, Mexican-inspired, Quick & Easy, South Beach Phase 1

Steve’s Off-the-Hook Seafood Linguine Alfredo

photo courtesy of T o n y at flickr.com

Need a comfort dish that’s gourmet enough for friends?  Look no further!  Make it as written by my foodie friend Steve, or with a few lightened-up modifications I suggest. You won’t be disappointed by either, and the best part? With all your seafood prepped, throw it together in 12 minutes!

Steve and I have known each other since high school and recently re-connected on Facebook.  He and his wife have a great appreciation for good food and wine – something, of course, near and dear to mine and my husband’s hearts.  While we still haven’t seen each other in person, we talk virtually about cooking; and about dishes that make our mutual network friends salivate.  When he posted about his “artery-clogging” comfort dish of Seafood Linguine Alfredo that he is famous for with family and guests,  I knew we would be foodie friends for a long time!

Steve was kind enough to share this recipe with me, knowing full well I would be reviewing it.  Now, readers… we all know that anything dubbed “alfredo” is not exactly in the diet books.  I figured it wasn’t going to be heart-healthy.  I saved making this one for my birthday treat, because I had plans to go back on to the South Beach Diet soon after making it.   What I wasn’t prepared for, was the proportion of the forbidden foods in his recipe (cream, butter, cheese).  Here is the original recipe, as he shared with me.

GATHER THIS:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Heavy cream (see below)
  • Butter (see below)
  • 1 lb uncooked, peeled & deveined shrimp
  • 1 lb bay scallops
  • 8 oz quality crab meat (no imitation)
  • 8 oz each Parmesan , Romano & Asiago cheeses
  • Salt, pepper, basil, oregano to taste
  • 1 lb. linguine noodles

DO THIS:

Cook the linguine noodles per package instructions and to your desired tenderness.  As your noodles are boiling,  cook your shrimp over medium heat in a stick of butter (he uses a wok for this – brilliant!) and 2-3 tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, basil, and oregano.  When just about cooked, remove shrimp with slotted spoon into a medium bowl; set aside. Add again more butter, olive oil and seasonings.

Cook the bay scallops; when done, remove with slotted spoon and add to the bowl with the shrimp.  To pan or skillet –  again add another stick of butter, more olive oil and seasonings. Drain noodles.  Return noodles to pot, add in the cooked shrimp and scallops from the bowl.  Pour in the butter mixture, pour in the crab meat, pour in the heavy cream ( half a pint or so ).  Then, pour in all three grated cheeses, stir; add milk or cream until you have the right consistency. Serve immediately.

Steve and reader friends… this is a recipe for a bona fide food coma! While I have a true appreciation for all great food, wine, and the glory of  butter and cream – (remember, I’m married to a Frenchman) – I simply could not handle this recipe exactly the way in which he intended – others might.   The recipe itself is fantastic.  I just needed to lighten it up a bit to accommodate our own tastes.

I really wanted to remain loyal to the integrity of the recipe, to honor Steve’s claims that it is the best of the best.  So, I kept an open mind, even as I was preparing it.  I thought, “if I can fathom that an extra stick of butter will make this better, I will keep it in”.   For me, it just wasn’t necessary.  This recipe was decadent, even with a significant reduction in the amount of butter and cream.

My proportions were almost the same, with the exception of the butter and oil: I simply reduced the amount of each stick of butter by two-thirds (using approximately 3-4 tablespoons of butter in each panful), and only 1/2 tbsp of olive oil.  I also eliminated the “or so..” option of the heavy cream.  I used exactly one half-pint (small container) of heavy cream, and thinned with chicken stock a bit to acquire the desired saucy consistency.   The only other thing to note, is that since he didn’t specify the amount of (assumed) dried herbs to use, I used about 1/4 teaspoon of Italian seasoning blend for each batch of seafood that I sautéed.  Steve, if I did not get this right – I can edit!  The beauty of blogging.

So what’s the rating? This dish was delicious, no question.   Will I make it again?  Most definitely.  Especially because of the ease with which it came together.   Will I change anything? Yes, as follows:

  1. Reduce butter amounts as suggested above.
  2. Incorporate 1/4 cup white wine or 2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice  into last step of tossing ingredients together to add a little brightness and thin the heaviness a bit.  Then I would garnish with a few thinly sliced lemons – it needs some color.  That being said, the general rule in presenting is that you shouldn’t garnish with an ingredient that hasn’t been used in the dish.
  3. Use sea scallops,  cartilage removed, cut into quarters or halves.  Sea scallops are more tender, sweeter – in general, a finer shellfish (albiet, more expensive). If you’re going to go all out with butter and cream, you may as well get the sea scallops…
  4. Reduce the amount of dried herbs used and add 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped basil in the last step. Garnish at the end with a sprig of basil for color.
  5. Use whole-wheat linguine pasta.  It is just as delicious, especially with this kind of recipe; and it will offset the less healthy ingredients giving you some nutritional value.
  6. Add some fresh chopped spinach to the last step – (Steve does this too) – the pasta will be hot enough to wilt the spinach and you will get a great nutritional addition to your meal.

All of my own personal recommendations aside,  Steve knows a good recipe – and that quality seafood is what it’s all about.  Regardless of how much cream or butter you use, the key to a great recipe is fresh ingredients. If you plan on going all out on a wonderful recipe such as this, don’t skimp by using imitation crabmeat or pre-cooked shrimp (the ultimate sin)!  Enjoy this with a nice, light mesclun salad of greens with a light vinaigrette and you won’t feel quite as guilty…  and to drink? I like a nice citrusy chardonnay or a young red pinot noir with this.

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Filed under Italian-inspired, Quick & Easy

Pan-seared Chicken with Roasted Red-pepper Cream Sauce

To make a colorful, flavorful, and healthy dinner, serve this beautifully sauced chicken with brown rice, cooked in chicken broth and tossed with black beans, chopped scallions, lime juice and cilantro.  And don’t forget the margaritas!

Create fabulousness in an instant with this quick, well-rounded menu that will wow and satisfy. Another recipe inspired by Martha Stewart and her Everyday Food crew, the original was this Chicken with Poblano Cream Sauce; which while beautiful in theory and on the picture – lacks the reality that not everyone appreciates the taste of  a poblano pepper, nor knows quite where to find it or what to expect from one.

In my version, I use everyday ingredients but add the heat of the dried chipotle.  If you haven’t any, get some of this for your spice rack! You can add it to almost anything for a great, smoky kick – perfect in chili.   For this recipe, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes for heat if you can’t find chipotle, but it won’t give you the same wonderful smoky flavor.   I love that this recipe is a bit above the rest while still being  simple.  Here’s what I did:

GATHER THIS:

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried chipotle pepper
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

DO THIS:

  1. Roast the pepper over a gas burner or under the broiler, until charred all over. Wrap in paper towel; cool 5 minutes. Peel off skin; remove seeds and ribs. Chop coarsely.
  2. Heat 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat; add onion, garlic, and chipotle; cook until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add pepper and cream.
  3. Puree in blender or food processor until smooth; add chicken stock if too thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat remaining vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until golden and juices run clear, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve with sauce

If you are absolutely not going to go through the roasted pepper work (which is healthier and more tasty), you could substitute the equivalent amount of jarred roasted red pepper.

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Filed under Healthy Recipes, Mexican-inspired, Quick & Easy

Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta & Lime

Think you don’t like brussel sprouts?  Think again!  These are made so differently, you’ll think you’ve been missing out after all these years.  A great side dish for St. Pat’s or Easter – finally, something other than the old standbys.  Easy, bright and flavorful – this serves about four.  My husband is a brussel-sprout convert because of this recipe!  The texture of the shredded brussel sprouts makes all the difference.

Gather This:

  • 4 slices of  bacon, cut crosswise  into 1/4 inch strips, or 4 slices of pancetta, cut in half and then into strips
  • 15-18 brussel sprouts, rinsed, bottoms trimmed, and sliced thin lengthwise
  • Juice of 1 small lime (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • coarse salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Do This:

In a large, non-stick skillet, saute the bacon over medium heat until crisp.  If you are using especially lean bacon and it appears to be dry and sticking, you can add a teaspoon of olive oil.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.

In the same skillet with the bacon fat, cook the brussel sprouts; about 3-4 minutes, or until bright green, and softened but still slightly firm to the bite.  Stir in the lime juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately, with the bacon crumbled over the top.

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Filed under Budget Friendly, From My Own Kitchen, Healthy Recipes, Quick & Easy