Thursday, January 22, 2009

Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella (serves 2)
1 c cooked rice
8 oz bay scallops
4 oz cooked shrimp
1 can (15 oz)diced tomatoes, drained
6 oz peas & carrots (frozen)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 t turmeric
2 t olive oil, divided

Spray 2 frypans with cooking spray.  In pan 1, saute the onion in 1 t of the olive oil.  Add the cooked rice and the turmeric.  Stir.  In pan 2, saute the scallops in 1 t of oil about 2 minutes, add the shrimp and heat about 1 minute more.  Add the peas & carrots, and the tomatoes to the seafood pan, and cook until well heated.  Add the seafood mixture to the rice mixture, heat through.  Serve with chopped parsley.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Strata (egg casserole)

My favorite special breakfast.  This recipe was given to me by my friend Gail many years ago.  Michael adapted it to single servings with lower fat content.

Strata (Egg Casserole) (2 servings: 2 dishes)
2 slices whole wheat bread
2 eggs
2/3 c milk (1/2%)
2 slices deli ham, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 can mushroom pieces or slices (4 oz) (or 6 oz. fresh mushrooms, chopped and sauteed)
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 t dry mustard, optional

Spray 2 individual casserole dishes with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Beat eggs with the milk , pepper, and dry mustard.  Dividing the ingredients, put a slice of bread in the dish, add the onions, ham, mushrooms, cheese, top with egg mixture.  Bake 15 minutes, check it, continue in 5 minute increments until golden and firm.  This casserole will "fall" slightly after you remove it from the oven.  Serve it right in the dishes, but pad them because they are hot.

Monday, January 19, 2009

NOW STOP THAT! Eggplant Parmesan, Pasta Gypsy

NOW STOP THAT!  Don't you dare miss this meal because you think you don't like eggplant!  I thought I hated eggplant, and I definitely hated spinach the way it was served to me as a child (with vinegar - yuk!)  But the Italian cooking shows always rave about eggplant.  Then last summer I saw such a beautiful little eggplant at the store - all shiny purple and calling out "Buy me! Buy me!".  So I did.  I took it home and challenged Michael to find the correct way to cook it so it wouldn't be bitter.  Wow!  He does love a challenge!  What a success this is, and we'd had it several times since then.  Please give it a try!

Eggplant Parmesan (serves 4 large servings)
1 to 1-1/2 lb eggplant
1 egg
1 c matzo meal (or cracker crumbs or dried bread crumbs)
1/2 c total Parmesan, divided
1 can tomato sauce (15 oz), heated w 1/2 T Italian seasoning and 1/2 T dried basil
4 oz mozzarella cheese
1 T olive oil

To remove the bitterness, wash and slice the eggplant into 1/2" slices.  Salt the slices generously on both sides and lay them out in a colander.  Let it sit where it can drain for 30-60 minutes. Blot the salty brine off with a paper towel. Bye bye bitter!

Meanwhile beat the egg with 1 T water, pour it out onto a small plate.  Put the matzo meal and 1/4 c of the parmesan on another medium plate, mixed together.  Heat the tomato mix as listed in the ingredients. Spray a frypan and a 9x9" glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Once the eggplant is blotted, heat 1 t. olive oil in the frypan.  Dip each eggplant slice in the egg mix, the cheese/crumb mixture, put in the frypan in a single layer.  Cook until golden, flip, cook until golden on both sides.  As you continue these, start the finished eggplant slices in a layer in the 9x9" baking dish.  Top each layer with 2 T Parmesan cheese and half of the tomato sauce mix and half of the mozzarella .  Michael usually gets 2 layers.  Make sure you end with mozzarella on the top.  Bake about 30 minutes.

Pasta Gypsy (serves 2)
A note about the ingredients.  Michael modifies this a lot depending on what is available seasonally, or on sale, or on hand.  You can modify too.  I love it with artichokes, as it was served in a Philadelphia restaurant.  We've used cherry tomatoes, various pastas, various olives, fresh basil when available.  Don't miss out on the truffle infused oil, black or white, as it adds a wonderful flavor.  It's expensive, but you use so little a small bottle will last you a long time.

4 oz mostaccioli or penne pasta
3 portobello mini caps (mushrooms), chopped into bite size pieces
handful or 2 of fresh spinach (what we had left), washed
1 clove garlic, pressed in a garlic press (or minced)
1 T parmesan cheese
1 t olive oil
8 olives
1/2 t truffle infused oil*, divided
1/4 c carrot water (see previous entries) or broth
1/2 t dried basil

Cook pasta per package directions, drain.  Saute the mushrooms, garlic, and olive oil in a frypan that has been sprayed with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt.  Add the cooked pasta, carrot water, basil, and the parmesan cheese.  Add the spinach last and cook until just wilted and most or all of the water has evaporated.  Place on plate and top with olives and drizzle 1/4 t truffle oil on each serving.

*truffle oil: can be purchased in gourmet cooking stores.  We buy ours from Earthy Delights.

Fruit Smoothies

Michael whips up these smoothies in a Vitamix machine.  Can your blender handle frozen food?

Fruit Smoothies (makes 24 oz total)
6 oz frozen fruit (raspberries, strawberries, peaches, blueberries, your choice)
2 bananas, ripe, fresh or frozen*
1/2 c lowfat plain yogurt
1/2 t vanilla
4 packets NutraSweet (or other sweetener)
Ice cubes, crushed, about 1 cup?
Cold water, 1/2 cup?

Put first 6 ingredients into the Vitamix. Start with low speed, moving to high speed quickly (Vitamix Variable speed 1 to 10, then high). Use the plunger to jam the frozen bits down into the blades.  Then it is usually too thick, so start adding water through the lid until the whole mixture is smoothly swirling.  Blend another 30 seconds.  Pour into glasses.

*ripe bananas.  These should not be any more ripe than in this picture.  If you can't use them in time, peel the bananas, put them in a plastic bag, and freeze them for smoothies!

Scalloped potatoes (no fat added), steamed carrots

Today we had the leftover Hawaiian turkey patties from yesterday.  To reheat, spray frypan with cooking spray, start heating the patties, flip and add about 2 T water, cover and steam until water evaporates and patties are heated.  

Scalloped potatoes (no fat added) (serves 2)
2 potatoes, medium, sliced thin
1/2  small onion, sliced thin
1/2 c milk
1 T flour
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray small casserole dish with cooking spray.  Mix the milk and flour together.  Layer all ingredients into the dish, pour the milk mixture evenly over all.  Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes to desired doneness.

Steamed carrots (serves 2)
4 carrots

Peel the carrots and cut diagonally into slices.  Place in steamer basket inside pan.  Fill bottom of pan with water to bottom of steamer basket.  Cook on medium heat 9 to 10 minutes.  Spray just a little  with Parkay spray or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray.  Salt to taste.  Save the carrot water to use as our secret ingredient* (see January 18).

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hawaiian Turkey Burger, Baked "fries", Braised Cabbage

Hawaiian Turkey Burgers (4 servings)
1 lb ground turkey
3 T matzo meal (or bread or cracker crumbs)
1 small onion, chopped
1 egg
3 T soy sauce
1 T brown sugar
1/8 t ground ginger
1/8 t garlic powder

1/4 c chicken broth or water or carrot water*
4 pineapple slices

Mix the turkey, matzo meal, chopped onion, and egg together.  Make a Teriyaki sauce of the next 5 ingredients, and mix into the turkey mixture.  Divide into 4 patties.  Spray a frying pan with cooking spray, saute the patties over medium to low heat, turning until both sides are golden brown and cooked all the way through.  Grill the pineapple slices in a separate pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray, using a grill pan if you want the grill marks on the pineapple, using medium to high heat for a very short time.  Serve the pineapple slices on top of the turkey patties. (Note you will have 2 patties left for another meal if cooking for 2.)

*carrot water - this is our "secret ingredient".  After years of steaming carrots in a steamer pan and discarding the water afterwards, we decided to save the beautiful yellow "carrot water" and use it, along with its minerals, in other recipes.  Delicious, adds  a subtle sweet taste!

Baked "fries" (2 servings)
1 (5 or 6 oz) Yukon Gold or russet potato
1 1/2 t. olive oil
garlic powder to taste
salt to taste

Slice the potato 1/8" to 1/4" thick. Toss them with the olive oil, garlic powder, and salt.  Bake on cook stone or sprayed metal pan at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, turn, bake another 6 or 7 minutes.

Braised cabbage (2 servings) (the dieter's friend!)
1/4 head of cabbage, chopped into bite size pieces
1 beef bullion cube, soaked in 6 oz water
2 t soft oleo (we use Smart Balance)

Spray frying pay with cooking spray.  Heat the oleo until it melts.  Add the cabbage, saute 3 or 4 minutes on medium heat until it lightly browns in places.  Add the bullion cube with its water.  Cook uncovered until the cabbage wilts to the doneness you prefer (we like medium, not too hard, not mushy).

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Welcome to Michael's cooking!

My husband has been doing all of our cooking for several years now.  He is great at cooking healthy, tasty meals that fill you up and keep you satisfied, while being reasonably low on calories. Yes, we are fighting that ongoing battle.  Michael's meals smell so good and look so appealing, that I said what a shame others can't enjoy this.  So we have decided to share via this blog.  So, please join us and enjoy!

The calorie count we strive for is about 250 calories for breakfast, 450 calories for lunch, and 450 calories for dinner.  We sometimes have a mid afternoon snack (favorite snacks are apple with cheese, or popcorn, or a fruit smoothie).  We don't eat sugars and sweets but do enjoy a glass of milk and 1 square of dark chocolate in the evening (really keeps those cravings at bay).  Our goal is about 1600 calories a day, since we are trying to lose a few pounds.