Monday, August 29, 2011

Roasted Eggplant & Feta Dip

Roasted Eggplant & Feta Dip
From Eating Well 500 Calorie Dinners

Lately we have had so much eggplant I wasn’t sure what to do with it! If you like hummus you will definitely like this yummy dip for veggies and pita chips!!

Servings: 12 (1/4 cup each)

1 med. eggplant (about 1 lb.)
2 T. lemon juice
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup finely chopped red onion
1 small bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small chile pepper, such as jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
2 T. chopped fresh basil
1 T. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
¼ tsp. salt
Pinch of sugar (optional)

1. Position oven rach about 6 inches from the heat source; preheat broiler.
2. Line a baking pan with foil. Place eggplant in the pan and poke a few holes all over it to vent steam (I put mine straight on a broiler pan instead). Broil the eggplant, turning with tongs every 5 minutes, until the skin is charred and a knife inserted into the dense flesh near the stem goes in easily, 14-18 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board until cool enough to handle.
3. Put lemon juice in a medium bowl. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and scrape the flesh into the bowl, tossing with lemon juice to help prevent discoloring. Add oil and stir with a fork until it is absorbed (the eggplant should be a little chunky). Stir in feta, onion, bell pepper, chile pepper, basil, parsley, cayenne and salt. Taste and add sugar if desired.

* I pureed everything in a blender afterwards because I like a smooth consistency. It turned out great and had a beautiful consistent look to it.

Nutrition Info: 75 calories; 6g fat; 2g sat. fat; 6g chol; 129mg sod; 2g protein

Roasted Eggplant

Indian-Spiced Chicken Pitas, Glazed Mini Carrots, and Crushed Red Potatoes with Buttermilk

Indian-Spiced Chicken Pitas, Glazed Mini Carrots, and Crushed Red Potatoes
From Eating Well 500 Calorie Dinners (all three items together make a dinner under 500 calories)

Indian-Spiced Chicken Pitas

Servings: 4

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 ½ tsp. garam masala, divided
¾ tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 cup thinly sliced seeded cucumber
¾ cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 T. chopped fresh cilantro or mint
2 tsp. lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4, 6-inch whole-wheat pitas, warmed
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
2 small or 1 large tomato, sliced
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion

1. Preheat grill to medium-high or position rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler. If grilling, oil the grill rack. If broiling, coat a broailer pan with cooking spray.
2. Sprinkle chicken with 1 tsp. garam masala and ½ tsp. salt. Place chicken on the grill rack or prepared pan and cook until no longer pink in the center, turning halfway through. Transfer chicken to clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, combine cucumber, yogurt, cilantro, lemon juice, remaining ½ tsp. garam masala, and ¼ tsp. salt and pepper in a small bowl. Thinly slice the chicken. Split open the warm pitas and fill with the chicken, yogurt sauce, lettuce, tomato, and onion.

Nutrition Info: 333 calories; 5g fat; 1g sat. fat; 64mg chol; 637mg sod; 32g protein

Crushed Red Potatoes with Buttermilk

Servings: 6

2 lb. red potatoes, scrubbed
1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
½ cup nonfat buttermilk
2 T. chopped fresh chives
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add 1 tsp. salt and bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook until tender, 12-15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl. Coarsely crush the potatoes with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon. Gently stir in buttermilk and chives. Season with salt and pepper.

Nutrition info: 85 calories; 0g fat; 0g sat. fat; 0mg chol; 311 mg sodium; 3g protein

Glazed Mini Carrots

Servings: 4

3 cups mini carrots (about 1 lb)
1/3 cup water
1 T. honey
2 tsp. butter
¼ tsp. salt, or to taste
1 T. lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 T. chopped fresh parsley

Combine carrots, water, honey, butter, and salt in a large skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until tender, 5-7 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring often, until the liquid is a syrupy glaze, 1-2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley.

* As a side note, Robbie and I often make this by combining all ingredients, putting them into a covered glass baking dish, and baking in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour (depending on the thickness of the carrots). It is easy to throw alongside anything else you have baking and just pull out when the carrots are done to your liking!

Nutrition Info: 74 calories; 2g fat; 1g sat. fat; 5mg chol; 236mg sod; 1g protein

Friday, August 5, 2011

Harvard Beets

My sister ranks beets as one of her all-time favorite foods. I have to admit this somewhat baffles me since it has definitely not been love at first bite for me. I’m determined, however, to find a few staple recipes that I enjoy using beets (especially since so far we get a bunch of them each week in our CSA! I can’t stand wasting food…).

Today I cooked up what was in our fridge using a recipe called Harvard Beets. To date, this is my favorite beet recipe. The beets are boiled until tender and coated in a sweet and sour sauce. This would make a gorgeous side dish and is a really healthy way to incorporate few beets into our diet. The only adjustment I plan to make next time is to reduce the amount of sugar and possibly the vinegar as well. I think that would really help the flavor of the beets to shine through. The recipe calls for 1 bunch of beets but I used 2 (6 small to medium beets) and felt there was still plenty of sauce.

From The Good Housekeeping Cookbook

Servings: 4 side dish sized servings

1 bunch beets with tops (1 pound)
1/3 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 T. cornstarch
½ tsp. salt
1 T. butter or margarine, cut into pieces

Trim all but 1 inch of stems from beets. In a 4-quart saucepan, combine beets and enough water to cover; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until tender, 20-30 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup beet liquid. When cool enough to handle, peel beets and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices.
In a nonreactive 2-quart saucepan, blend reserved beet liquid, vinegar, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until smooth. Add butter; heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring until sauch has thickened and boils. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute. Add beets; cook until heated through.

Nutrition Information: 104 calories; 3g fat; 2g sat. fat; 8mg chol.; 352mg sod.; 1g protein

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Squash Casserole

Squash Casserole
From The Good Housekeeping Cookbook

Servings: 8 side dish size servings

2 T. butter or margarine
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 lb. yellow squash (2 med.), cut into ½” slices
1 lb. zucchini (2 med.), cut into 1/2” slices
½ tsp. salt
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
2 T. all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
½ cup reduced-fat sour cream
4 T. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup saltine cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add squash and salt. Cook, stirring occassionally until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and ground red pepper and cook 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low; sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add milk and heat to boiling, stirring until browned bits are loosened from bottom of skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and 3 tablespoons Parmesan.
Spoon squash mixture into shallow 9”x9” baking dish. Sprinkle with cracker crumbs and remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Bake until bubbling at edges, about 20 minutes.

Nutrition Information: 130 calories; 7g fat; 4g sat. fat; 17mg. chol.; 307 mg. sodium; 5g protein

Jill’s notes:
* I love making substitutions to use whatever I have in my fridge! For this recipe I chopped up 4 different kinds of summer squash I had lying around, substituted low-fat plain yogurt for the sour cream, and put some triscuts in the blender to use as topping since I didn’t have any saltines on hand.
** Another time/money-saving technique I use is to prepare and freeze onions in advance for cooking. Instead of buying onions one or two at a time, I buy a bag (which costs less) and prep them different ways (diced, sliced, quartered, strips, etc.). I freeze them in bags in 1 cup or 1 onion measurements. It saves so much time and effort when preparing cooked dishes later on!

Squash Casserole fresh out of the oven!

Toasted Coconut Banana Bread

Toasted Coconut Banana Bread

From Trim & Terrific Freezer Friendly Meals

Servings: 16 slices

1 egg
2/3 cup light brown sugar
¼ cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 bananas, mashed
1 cup light coconut milk, shake before opening
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup flaked coconut, toasted
Toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch non-stick loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.
In a bowl, mix together the egg, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana and coconut milk. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl. Gradually stir in the flour mixture into the banana mixture just until moist. Add half the coconut (and toasted walnuts or pecans if desired) and transfer batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the remaining coconut and press into top of batter. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean.

To Freeze: Cool to room temperature, then wrap, label, and freeze. Recommended freezing time: up to 4-6 months. Just remove from freezer and defrost when ready to eat!

* Jill’s notes: To toast coconut either put in the oven in a metal pan (can do as it pre-heats) and stir on occasion until coconut reaches desired level of toasting. Can also toast in a skillet on a stovetop. Cook over low heat stirring occasionally. This is one of Rob’s favorite snacks and we always have some coconut flakes on hand. Add toasted coconut to mixed nuts, chocolate chips, and raisins or cranberries for a quick trail mix, sprinkle on top of yogurt, pudding, or ice cream, or just eat plain!

** This is a great recipe to double. Eat one now and freeze one for later. 2 batches will use 1 can of coconut milk and you can throw in 4-6 bananas.

*** You can also easily incorporate whole wheat flour into this recipe. Make a blend of whole wheat flour and regular flour 50/50 or I used 100% white whole wheat flour.

Nutrition Info (as recipe is written): 161 calories; 6g fat; 2g sat. fat; 13 mg. chol.; 84 mg. sod.; 1g fiber; 2g protein

Smothered Okra

Smothered Okra
 From Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

Servings: 4

½ cup chopped onion (1 medium)
½ cup chopped green sweet pepper (I used regular and italian frying peppers)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. butter or margarine
8 ounces whole okra (about 4 med. to lg. sized), cut into ½” pieces (2 cups), or 2 cups frozen cut okra, thawed
2 cups chopped, peeled tomatoes (2 large)
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper (optional)
2 slices bacon, crisp-cooked, drained, and crumbled (optional)
Parmesan cheese to taste (optional)

1. In a large skillet cook and stir the onion, sweet pepper, and garlic in butter over medium heat about 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in okra, tomatoes, red pepper, ½ tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes for fresh okra (10 minutes for thawed okra) or until okra is very tender. If desired sprinkle with bacon and/or cheese.

Nutrition info: 106 calories; 7g total fat; 4g sat. fat; 16 mg. chol.; 367 mg. sodium; 4g fiber; 2g protein
Daily values: 25% vit. A; 72% vit. C; 6% calcium; 6% iron
Exchanges: 2 ½ vegetable; 1 fat

Pretty simple ingredients

Sauteeing the peppers and onions

The Tanzer Family Table

After coming over for a home-cooked dinner one night a good friend of ours told me, “Regular people wake up each morning and ask themselves, ‘What am I going to do today?’ You wake up each morning and ask yourselves, ‘What are we going to eat today?’”

I hadn’t really thought much about it before then but I quickly realized he was right. I have always enjoyed cooking and have done a lot of it over the years. I have shelves and shelves of recipe books and stacks of loose recipes I want to try someday. Luckily, when I met my husband he shared my passion for good, home-cooked food. Although he wasn’t much of a chef in the beginning, he is too curious to be kept out of the kitchen. He quickly started picking up on cooking techniques and recipes and now is a better cook than I am at lots of things. I have to laugh when I am cooking something and I hear him come into the kitchen. I can almost guarantee within a matter of seconds he will take the spoon out of my hand and take over the cooking. I have given up fighting him on this one and we have reached a happy level of harmony in the kitchen. I love that one of our favorite things to do together is to cook – even if it is just for ourselves to enjoy. We have one rule of thumb for our kitchen: it has to be big enough to accommodate two chefs!

Along the way I have also developed a passion for healthy living and cooking. I hope what I put on the table each day is not only delicious but something that is healthy and nourishing for our family. Many people have fallen victim to a convesration with me about my love of the magazine Eating Well and a lot of my recipes come from their books and magazines. Many studies have shown the eating habits of one spouse can influence the other – I know that to be true. I also know my sister is an invaluable resource for me when I want to cook something new or need inspiration. I really feel your best inspiration comes from the other cooks around you so I hope pass along whatever I can.

A few of my other core “foodie” beliefs:
* Life is too short to eat bad food
* Good food and healthy food are not mutually exclusive
* A high calorie splurge on occasion is healthy and often well-deserved
* Recipes taste better if they are shared
* One cook can inspire another
* You can never fail when you try something new (food item, cooking method, etc.). You will always walk away knowing something you didn’t know before
* Don’t worry if you don’t follow the recipe perfectly - some of the best recipes you ever make will be a “mistake”
* Life is also too short to be a picky eater – try a food several different ways before you rule it out
* Find a handful of simple, go-to, recipes to put in your mental recipe box (some of mine are baked sweet potatoes, asparagus with garlic butter, coleslaw, turkey paninis, chicken salad sandwiches, etc.) These should be recipes that are so simple you can pick up 5 or less ingredients at the store and make them without looking at a recipe.
* Planning ahead to make a weekly menu will take 50% of the stress out of cooking
* Doubling a batch of something to freeze takes very little extra work - you will thank yourself later
* If you love to cook, you should share the love by feeding friends, family and strangers. A happy cook makes everything taste better!

So for those who wonder what is on the Tanzer family table today, I will try to share some of our newest (and oldest!) food adventures and obsessions.