Monday, February 28, 2011

Fettuccine Alfredo (low calorie)

Did you know that the original fettuccine Alfredo was made without cream - just butter and cheese? If you haven't had it, you should! It's delicious and not as heavy as the Americanized cream based version (though much pricier to make!).

Though I really prefer the cream-free version, sometimes my craving for fettuccine Alfredo and slim grocery budget opts for more of the Americanized version. This is a slimmed down recipe of a more Americanized alfredo sauce - it has a heavier weight than a butter and cheese version but not as heavy as one with heavy cream in it (in other words, we didn't feel blah afterwards!).

By using low fat cream cheese and low fat milk, instead of heavy cream, the calories are significantly less. Also, the noodles aren't swimming in sauce - they are just lightly coated. Enough to taste, but not enough to slurp!

We both really liked it, actually, and it was very quick. Perfect for a weeknight! Start to finish, about 15 minutes. Again, can't drive to Mickey D's that fast! Since it's meat free, it's also inexpensive - especially if you already have most of these ingredients on hand.

This recipe serves 4 and each serving is 490 calories (compared to almost twice that for most other versions!)

Fettuccine Alfredo
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
1 cup low fat (2%) milk
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons low fat Neufchatel or cream cheese (I used whipped since I had some on hand - melts great!)
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 ounces fresh fettuccine (note: I could only find 9 oz packages so I just used that instead)
Freshly ground pepper

Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook until the garlic is slightly soft, about 1 minute. Add in the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and parmesan cheese; whisk until melted, about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped parsley.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, 2-3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Add the pasta and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water to your sauce skillet and gently toss to combine, adding more water as needed to loosen. Season with salt.

Divide among bowls and top with parmesan and pepper.

Source: Food Network Magazine

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Everything Shrimp with Scallion-Cream Cheese Dip

Rachael Ray irritates the heck out of me but I really do enjoy her magazine. This month's issue has an entire section of recipes built around a basic batter recipe. Some of the recipes included fritters, gnocchi, cupcakes, crepes, and these shrimp. I suppose you could use any basic batter recipe you prefer but I just used the one they printed. It was super easy and just takes ingredients we all have on hand.

The shrimp were very tasty. I don't make fried shrimp very often but have to admit it's one of the tastiest ways to enjoy shrimp... I like everything bagels a lot and this is that similar taste combination - sesame, poppy, and garlic. The dipping sauce is great, too, and added a nice creamy bite to the crunchy salty shrimp.

These would be great for dinner or for appetizers/snack.

Oh - Rachael had a ridiculous name for this recipe that I refuse to call it.

Basic Batter
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 beaten eggs
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used canola - all I had)

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, butter and oil until smooth.

Everything Shrimp
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspooon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
8 ounces whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup half and half (I just used milk)
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
Vegetable oil, for frying (I used canola)
2 cups basic batter
1 pound large shrimp, peeled with tail on and butterflied

Line a baking sheet with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 2 teaspoons poppy seeds and 1 teaspoon each dried garlic and salt. Sprinkle over the paper towels and set aside.

In another small bowl, combine the cream cheese, half and half, and 1/4 cup scallions. Season with salt.

Fill a large pot with enough oil to reach depth of 2 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until it registers 350.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the batter and the remaining 1/4 cup scallions, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, and 2 teaspoons each poppy seeds and dried garlic. Season the shrimp with salt.

Working in batches, hold the shrimp by the tail and dip in the batter mixture, place in the oil and fry, turning once, until golden about 5 minutes. Drain on the seed-covered paper towels, lightly coating with the mixture.

Serve with the scallion cream cheese dip.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tortellini with Sage-Walnut Butter

This was a great weeknight meal from the latest Food Network Magazine, which was all about Italian food this month. Lots of the pasta dishes were baked but since we're still without an oven (2.5 months and counting!) I pulled several of the stovetop recipes to use for now and this was the first we tried.

I really the balsamic syrup drizzled over top of this. Jason doesn't like any vinegar, really, but especially not balsamic but this had a sweet syrupy taste so don't be scared off if you don't normally like balsamic vinegar. After adding the honey and letting it thicken, it doesn't take anything like vinegar anymore.

My only complaint was that this was a three pot meal. Other than that, it was a great recipe and a good busy weeknight stand-by. Jason really liked it and claimed the leftovers for his lunch tomorrow. Start to finish was about 15 minutes, if you can cook it all at the same time. I used fresh herb chicken tortellini but you could use any stuffed pasta you'd like (ravioli or tortellini) and it would work with dried or fresh.

Tortellini with Sage-Walnut Butter
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
Bay leaf
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sage leaves
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 pound tortellini, cooked and drained (reserve 1 cup of the pasta water)
Grated parmesan

Combine the balsamic vinegar, honey and bay leaf in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until syrupy, about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat then add the safe leaves and chopped walnuts. Cook 3 minutes. Add 1 cup pasta water and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Toss with the cooked tortellini, some grated parmesan and salt. Drizzle with the balsamic syrup.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl Menu Round-Up

So all these recipes don't get lost in one post, I put each Super Bowl menu item in it's own post. Here's a run down of what I made for the big game! Just click the name to see the post with recipe and notes.

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

My original plan was to make chicken wings in the oven. But with the ridiculously inflated prices on wings over the weekend, and the lack of oven, I opted to use a crockpot chicken wing recipe and sub drumsticks instead. We all agreed that drumsticks have more meat and are better than wings anyways. :)

I really liked this recipe - very easy but very tasty. The meat was falling off the bone tender!

Since the recipe calls for broiling beforehand, we threw the legs on the grill for about 10 minutes to crisp up the skin and then put them in the crockpot. I'd actually prefer this method even if my oven was working because you don't have to dirty an additional baking sheet!

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Drumsticks
3 lbs chicken wings or legs
1 -1 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Arrange the wings/legs on a baking sheet and broil for 10 minutes (turning once) until golden brown, or throw them on the grill for 10 minutes (turning once) until golden brown.

Place chicken in the crockpot.

Combine BBQ sauce, honey, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl, mix well, and pour over the chicken.

Cover and heat on low for 2-2.5 hours.


Edamole (Edamame + Guacamole) and Fried Wonton Strips

I came across this recipe on a food blog, too, and it sounded like a great alternative to the typical guacamole and tortilla chip addition to any Texas get together. I really like edamame but had never had it any other way but in the pod, salted.

We did tweak the recipe as we tasted and I indicated those changes below. I thought it was good; it had a distinct avocado flavor but the sweetness of the edamame was a nice addition.

Honestly, the fried wonton strips were an even bigger hit. I could eat them like popcorn and they were very easy and tasty. They worked great with this dip but would work well with other dips as well. My salt tooth loved them!

2 cups shelled edamame beans
1/2 of a ripe avocado (we ended up adding the other half, too)
2 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon lemon juice*
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil*
1 Tablespoon water*
salt & pepper to taste

*you may need more liquid - we kept adding lemon juice and EVOO until the consistency was right. I also ended up adding garlic powder in addition to the cloves.

In a food processor combine edamame, avocado, garlic, oil, lemon juice, and water. Pulse or puree until well blended, scraping down sides as needed. Season with salt & pepper, then pulse a few more times.

Fried Wonton Strips
approx 10 square wonton sheets (I used way more!)
canola or vegetable oil for frying

Heat oil over medium to medium-high heat in a shallow frying pan. Use enough oil, so that it is about 3/4" thick. Prepare a plate with a layer of paper towels on top.

Using a pizza cutter, cut sheets into 4-5 strips depending on the width you want. I stacked 2-3 sheets at a time to cut.

Quickly transfer 4-5 strips to frying oil. Watch very closely and flip over when they just begin to turn very light golden. Fry just a few seconds more until they are crispy, and transfer to paper towel on plate. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining wonton strips.

Recipes from Erin's Food Files.

Mushroom-Swiss Sliders

I'm a big fan of the Pioneer Woman's food - I've yet to try something I didn't care for. When I was looking for a great slider for our Super Bowl get together, I checked her site and thought these looked delicious.

Overall, I thought it was very good. Looking back, I should have used my castiron skillet to get that extra flavor in the patty. Because I didn't have a lid for the skillet I used, my cheese didn't get as bubbly and melty as hers did. We also didn't toast our buns and I would do that next time. Still tasty, though.

Mushroom and Swiss Sliders
⅓ cups Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Ketchup
1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
4 Tablespoons Butter
½ whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
8 ounces, weight White Mushrooms, Chopped Finely
½ cups White Or Red Wine (optional)
4 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
Kosher Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 pounds Ground Beef
4 Tablespoons Heavy Whipping Cream (I would skip next time - didn't make much difference)
4 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
4 slices Swiss Cheese, Cut Into Four Squares
8 whole Dinner (or Slider) Rolls, Split

In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, ketchup, and cayenne. Stir together until totally combined. Set aside. (This is the spicy fry sauce.)

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onions and cook over medium heat for five minutes, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms and toss around, then add wine (if using), Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Cook for several minutes over medium heat, or until all liquid has evaporated. Transfer mushroom mixture to a separate bowl, scraping all contents from the skillet.

Mix ground beef, heavy cream, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Use your hands to thoroughly mix ingredients. Form 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the meat mixture into patties, making an indentation with your thumb to keep the patties from plumping too much when they cook. In the same skillet as the one used to cook the mushrooms, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium to medium-high heat. Add four patties at a time, indented side face up. Cook for 4 minutes, then flip. Spoon generous portion of mushroom mixture on each patty, then top with one or two squares of Swiss, depending on your preference. Place lid on skillet and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until burgers are cooked through and cheese is melted. Remove to a place and keep warm while you repeat with the rest of the meat mixture.

Toast halved buns under the oven broiler. Spread generously with spicy fry sauce. Place patties between buns and serve immediately

Original recipe here.

(Football) Oreo Truffles

I have made oreo truffles before and they are delicious. They are very rich and SO easy. Really, the food processor does all the work. I'm not a big fan of Oreos but I love oreo truffles.

One of the really amazing food bloggers out there (she specializes in baked items - I don't bake) transformed her oreo truffles into mini footballs and they were so cute, I had to try.

This is really where my creativity ends. Dipping them into chocolate seamlessly is something I fail miserably at. I'm also not great painting on the stripes but overall, they turned out okay and more importantly, were delicious as always. Our Super Bowl guests also thought they were delicious.

The picture above is the best one I had. See below for a picture of the whole platter to see how most of them looked.

With a bit more practice, or a more creative ability, these could be as cute as the ones on Bakerella's Site.

Oreo Truffles
1 package oreo cookies (divided… use cookie including the cream center)
1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)
Chocolate bark
White chocolate bark

Finely crush the cookies in a food processor (set aside 6-8 of them so the consistency will be right - just snack on them whiel you cook). Add the softened cream cheese to the processor and pulse until the consistency is well blended.

You can do this step without a processor, just crush the oreos in a plastic bag and them mash them together with the cream cheese in a mixing bowl.

Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Roll the mixture into 1″ balls and then shape them into little footballs. Place on the baking sheet. When finished with all of them, put the baking sheet into the freezer while you prepare the chocolate.

Melt the chocolate bark as directed on the package and then dip the footballs into the chocolate, tap off extra and set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry.

Once they are dry (takes just a few minutes), melt the while chocolate bark and pour it into a squeeze bottle. Carefully pipe the football design on each truffle.

Makes about 36 truffles.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This dish is seemingly featured on just about every food blog I follow and it's often referred to as "crack dip." Make it once and you'll understand why.

It took me awhile to try this recipe for some reason and now I see that I've been missing out! This might have been the favorite item last night at the Super Bowl party - it's sooooooo good.

While the recipe (and variations of it) can be found several places, I used a crockpot version since many of them call for baking and we don't have a working oven right now.

I made a few changes, which I included below. The original recipe calls for canned chicken and I'm just not a fan so we threw 2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts on the grill and shredded that instead. The original recipe also calls to cook everything on the stove before adding to the crockpot but we skipped that part and went right to the crockpot. Worked great!

I'm really leery of anything "buffalo" because I can't tolerate heat much - and one of my friend's that came over is even more sensitive than I am - but we both loved this dish. It really did not have a lot of heat at all. Don't let the hot sauce stop you from trying it at your next party!

Buffalo Chicken Dip, aka Crack Dip
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 (8 ounce) packets cream cheese
3/4 cup hot sauce (like Frank's)
1 cup ranch dressing
2 cups mild cheddar cheese (I used sharp)
Dipping utensil - we used tortilla chips

Put the cream cheese, hot sauce, ranch, chicken, and cheese into a crockpot. Mix as much as you can, turn on high so it can start to meld together. Stir again, once it begins to bubble, and turn to low. It'll take 45 minutes-1 hour to be ready.

Original recipe here

BBQ Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are the hot item at all family functions on my dad's side of the family. Often, they gone before the meal is even served! I love them, too. A lot.

On last Sunday's episode of Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian she made BBQ Ranch Deviled Eggs and they looked delicious. They were.

I made a few changes - most importantly, the addition of bacon. (Bacon and iced coffee are my two weaknesses. And maybe shoes, too...) What goes better with ranch, green onions, and barbeque sauce than bacon? It just makes sense to add it. I was right; the smoky crunch of crumbled bacon was delicious.

These were very good. I might even up the ranch next time I make them just because (yolk is a pretty strong flavor so the ranch was very subtle as is). Our friends that came over for Super Bowl both seemed to like them as well. I really loved the added BBQ sauce - a nice sweet addition to an old favorite that tied it all together.

I know some people get frustrated peeling eggs. I learned a great tip from Rachael Ray (of all people!) years ago on her show. I bring them to a boil and let them boil about a minute, remove from heat, and let them sit about 15 minutes in the original pot with lid on. Then, I pour all the water and eggs straight into a colander so the eggs will bang up against each other (and crack slightly). Once they are cooled enough to handle, peel them under a light stream of water - the water gets underneath the shell from the cracks and it helps the peel slip right off without any tearing. Works perfect everytime!

Try these eggs and let me know what you think!

BBQ Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs
8 large eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons ranch dressing
3 tablespoons prepared BBQ sauce
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Slice the eggs in half lengthwise, putting the yolks in a resealable plastic bag (ziplock) and the whites on a platter. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, and ranch dressing to the ziplock, seal, and squish all together with your hands. Once well mixed, push it all into one corner of the bag and cut off the tip to make a pastry bag. Pipe the yolk mixture into the whites. Sprinkle crumbled bacon on each egg and drizzle the BBQ sauce over top (either use a squeeze bottle or pour some into another ziplock and cut a tiny corner for the sauce). Sprinkle with the green onions and serve.

Original recipe here.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Honey Chipotle Glazed Chicken

This chicken recipe came from one of my new favorite blogs, Annie's Eats. It would have been even better on a grill but I just did it on the stovetop. It had a slight spice to it ~ nothing unbearable ~ and a lot of flavor. VERY easy and uses all ingredients you probably already have. I didn't have to buy a single thing for this recipe, matter of fact.

Just as an aside, I buy the small can of chipotle peppers in adobo and fill an iced tray with them. Once they are frozen, I just pop them all into a freezer bag. That way, I can just thaw a cube at a time when I need some. Who can use an entire can in one recipe anyways? (I do the same thing with tomato paste, by the way).

Instead of pureeing the chipotle ahead of time I just put all the glaze ingredients in a mixing bowl and used my immersion blender to quickly puree is all together. GREAT time saver! I also just eyeballed the measurements for the most part.

This is easily a 30 minute, start to finish, meal.

Honey Chipotle Glazed Chicken
¼ cup honey
1 tbsp. pureed canned chipotles in adobo sauce (see note above)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. ancho chili powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. canola oil
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. Spanish paprika
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Sesame seeds, chopped fresh cilantro and minced chives, for garnish (optional)

Heat the grill or a grill pan to high. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, chipotle puree, mustard, 1½ teaspoons ancho chile powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1½ teaspoons oil. Set aside.

Stir together the remaining ancho powder with the coriander, cumin and paprika in another medium bowl. Add the chicken breasts and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken on the heated grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip the chicken and brush the cooked side of the chicken pieces with the honey-chipotle glaze. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes; flip the chicken again and brush the second side with the glaze. Cook for 1 minute, flip again and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from the grill and brush with more sauce as desired. Garnish with sesame seeds, cilantro and chives as desired; serve.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My new favorite (easiest!) spaghetti sauce

This tomato-butter sauce is incredibly delicious and quite possibly the EASIEST dish I've ever made. The original recipe is from Marcella Hazan and an amazing cook and foodie passed it on to me.

This would be great to use in a pasta dish - like lasagna - or just in spaghetti, like we did. I also added ground beef and grated parmesan to our spaghetti but it would have been delicious on it's own.

Tomato-Butter Sauce
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
5 tbsp. butter

Combine all ingredients and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Discard onion and season with salt and pepper to taste.

See Aimee Cook

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