Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chicken Pastry Bundles with Red Pepper and Cream Cheese

Chicken Pastries with Red Pepper and Cheese
OK. I've done it. Following the good example of many of you do-gooders out there, I've decided to return to tracking my *many* eats. I'm a completely excessive snacker, and somehow have the appetite of a 300lb man who hasn't been fed in days. Thankfully, nature has been kind to me and I'm merely a 300lb man stuck in a woman's body, but don't look like it! :) Eating 3 granola bars a day isn't the worst thing you could do to your body but probably not the best, either. I tend to eat and forget exactly how much I consume when I'm hungry, stressed, and at work.

In any case, from here on out I'll be writing down what I eat. Hopefully I'll now eat 9 pieces of candy as opposed to 10. :)

Chicken Pastry Bundles served with broccoli

Prior to my food journal days, I ate copious amounts of this tasty dish, courtesy of hubby's Man Food Mondays. For those of you new to the game, hubby has graciously offered to cook us dinner on Mondays and I must say he's gone from not cooking to a total chef. I may have competition here, folks! It's been awhile since my last MFM post but that's out of my own sheer laziness, not his. Oh, and it's not Monday, but work with me here.

Chicken Pastry Bundles with Red Pepper and Cheese
We're not sure where this recipe came from, though it's one of the first meals that my boyfriend-now-husband cooked for me. Diced chicken is mixed with a cream cheese and dill mixture along with sauteed red pepper and onion. The delightful result is wrapped with crescent dough, then dunked in a bath of breading before baking to a golden crisp. Sound like a lot of calories? Well, it may be, but it's worth it! Try using reduced fat crescent dough and/or cream cheese if you're worried. I've given it a fancy name, but really we just call them Chicken Pockets!

Chicken Pastry Bundles with Red Pepper and Cream Cheese aka "Chicken Pockets" in our house

2 tablespoons of diced onion
1/2 cup diced red pepper
2 cups cooked chopped chicken
3 oz of cream cheese softened at room temp
1/4 - 1/2 tsp dill (to taste)
2 tablespoons of milk
3 tablespoons of melted butter
Italian bread crumbs
2 tubes of crescent roll dough


1. In a pat of butter, saute diced red pepper and onion in a pat of butter. Cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.

2. In a medium bowl, combine chicken, cream cheese, dill, onion, red pepper, and milk.

3. Roll out crescent rolls. Take two sections and press edges together to form a rectangle. Place 1/3 cup filling onto dough; wrap mixture with dough & seal the corners with warm water.

3. Dunk pocket into melted butter and then in Italian breadcrumbs.

4. Place on sprayed cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Healthy Chile Con Queso with Baked Lime Tortilla Chips

Though I distinctly remember one or two occasions where I nearly chucked a shoe at ESPN, or Fox Sports, or ESPN2 for constantly hogging up our TV, I must admit I'm a little sad that football is nearly over. I'm much more of a college football fan, so I'm just hanging on till the Super Bowl. Since no team I have a vested interest in made it to the big game, I've already picked my new favorite to win.

Not only will I miss football, but I'll dearly miss having a great excuse to eat junk food in the middle of the day, having friends over just to eat said junk food, and of course, spending a Saturday or Sunday with a beer in hand and dedicating myself to nothing but drinking, eating and watching the TV. I promise I'm not really lazy at heart :)

In honor of the near end of the football season (really, one of the only regularly televised sports that can keep my attention) here's a tasty and healthy treat that doesn't actually taste healthy!

I grew up eating Chile Con Queso in the Velveeta form. No mockery of this quintessential snack,but here's a real deal dip that's heart healthy. Baked tortilla chips are never as crispy and delightful as their fried cousins, but at least you're not consuming a mountain of fat, right?

The dip is a little bit thinner than what I'm used to, but if you let this sit in a crock pot or even on your stove (on low heat) while you're watching the game, it will thicken up!

The Recipe Girl
is having a Super Bowl Party Recipe Smackdown contest. Send Lori your best football fare, and you could win $250! Woohoo! Check it out here.

Chile Con Queso with Baked Lime Tortilla Chips
Eating Well, Feb '09

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup light colored beer
1 1/2 cups milk, divided
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar
1 10 oz can Rotel (drained)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
cayenne pepper to taste
1/4 cup scallions
2 tbsp fresh cilantro

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion & garlic, and saute until beginning to soften and brown. Add beer and cook until reduced slightly, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup milk and bring to a simmer.

2. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick, about 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add cheese and cook, stirring until melted. Add tomatoes, lime juice, salt, chili powder and cayenne (if using). Serve warm, garnished with cilantro & scallions.

Chile-Lime Tortilla Chips
12 6 inch corn tortillas
cooking spray
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Coat both sides of tortillas with cooking spray and cut into quarters. Place wedges in an even layer on 1-2 cookie sheets. Combine lime juice & chili powder in a bowl. Brush the mixture on the tortillas and sprinkle with salt.

2. Bake tortillas until golden & crisp, about 15-20 minutes. Try flipping them mid-bake to get an even crispiness.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Pioneer's Crash Hot Potatoes

Digital cameras are clearly a godsend, allowing us the liberty to take countless photos of life's greatest minutiae. Remember when you actually had to buy rolls of camera film?

The novelty of taking countless shots of the same colorfully gorgeous sunset from each and every angle could get a little costly. Plus, how did you know that your last shot sucked and you needed to take another? In this age of instant gratification, it seems almost odd that we used to wait hours, days or even weeks to witness the fruits (...or duds) of our photography efforts.

On the other hand, I must say that a part of me misses the excitement of rushing out to the drugstore to develop film, tearing open the envelope when they were finished, and having all the good memories unfold before me like a storybook. I now find myself forgetting where I saved pictures, kind of bored of them since I can look at them over and over again on my camera, and worst of all forgetting to get them developed. Do you agree?

While combing through forgotten photo files, I found these delicious potatoes in a random Thanksgiving folder. I'm not sure how I forgot about these potatoes as we never make potatoes any other way after trying these!

I first found the recipe for these potatoes on the admirable Pioneer Woman's website. Small red potatoes are boiled until tender. Once drained, you smash them with a potato masher and sprinkle with Kosher salt, pepper, Rosemary (or a spice of your choosing) and a nice bath of olive oil. Roast and voila, you have some of the most delectable, crispy and flavorful potatoes you could hope for. The Pioneer Woman is always full of magic :)

These are so easy, you really don't need a recipe. For those of you who still want one here you go!

Crash Hot Potatoes
Courtesy of the Pioneer Woman Cooks

Small red potatoes
chopped Rosemary
Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you'd like to cook. Boil until forked tender. Drain.

Drizzle a cookie sheet with olive oil. Place potatoes on the sheet and with a potato masher gently press down on the potato. Rotate the masher 90 degrees and mash again. Repeat with the remaining potatoes. Brush the tops with olive oil.

Sprinkle rosemary, salt and pepper on the potatoes.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Man Food Mondays: Shrimp, Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

Have you seen those silly NutriSystem commercials touting "MAN Food?" Says big beefy man (I think Dan Marino): “Hey guys, let’s be honest. A man wants to eat real food – hot dogs, burgers, pizza and lasagna. You know, man food, big taste, hearty portions.”

Seafood & Sausage Gumbo
I'm not sure if this is a prime example of the Marketing group gone crazy, but these commercials truly make me laugh. I somehow cannot locate a clip on YouTube so for those of you in the dark, you just need to watch more bad TV.

Well, in our household we've created our own Man Food Mondays, though it has nothing to do with losing weight, and everything to do with hubby in the kitchen. WoooHoo! You see, since we've been married, hubby has gotten uh, a little lazy in the kitchen while I've taken over the reins of housewife. Oh, but only if I were actually a housewife!

GumboSo, to maintain our egalitarian household, every Monday hubby will be cooking up a treat for us and you all get to revel in some good ol' Man Food!

Seafood and Sausage Gumbo
This gumbo is chock full of goodies: sausage, shrimp, chicken, tomatoes, and okra. Okra...does it go in anything besides gumbo? In any case, this did stand up to be quite a hearty meal as we served it over rice and with a side of cornbread. The sauce is thick and tasty, though it didn't have quite the kick I'm used to with gumbo. I'd suggest adding a pinch or two of cayenne if you're looking for that spice. Otherwise, this is a tasty dish perfect for that man of yours who needs to feel like a man when he eats ;)

Man Food Gumbo
Adapted from Paula Deen

1-2 large boneless skinless chicken breast(s)
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 link sweet Italian Sausage, cut into 1/4in pieces
1 link hot Italian Sausage, cut into 1/4in pieces (total of about 1lb sausage)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more to taste)
1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish
4 cups beef or chicken broth (we ran out and used 2.5 cups broth, 1.5 cups water)
1 (14-ounce can) stewed tomatoes with juice
2 cups frozen sliced okra
green onions, sliced, white and green parts
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides and remove. Add the sausage and cook until browned, then remove. Sprinkle the flour over the oil, add 2 tablespoons of butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let the roux cool.

2. Return the Dutch oven to low heat and melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper and celery and cook for 10 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, to taste and the 1/4 bunch parsley.

3. Cook, while stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add broth, whisking constantly. Return the chicken and sausage to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tomatoes and okra. Cover and simmer on low for 1 hour.

4. Remove the chicken and allow to cool slightly. Shred with hands or two forks. Return chicken to pot.

5. Just before serving add the green onions, shrimp and chopped parsley. Allow to simmer until shrimp are cooked, about 2 minutes.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Nemesis, This Gnocchi is for You!

Skillet Gnocchi
Do you have a gym nemesis? Maybe it's the Wet Guy who profusely sweats all over every machine you want use.... Or, the MeatHead Grunter who startles you with his "OOH HOO" each time you lift a dumbbell. And then there's the Gym Rat who you spot at the gym 24/7 - whether you're on your normal schedule or randomly working out at 11pm.

Well, my gym nemesis is Gym Barbie. Perhaps it's a little bit out of jealousy, but how do you never sweat? And keep that perfect body when you only walk on the treadmill...slowly? Oh Gym Barbie! Tell me your secrets. Do you wear waterproof makeup? Oh wait, I forgot. You don't sweat!
Gnocchi with Spinach
In honor of my Gym Nemesis who clearly never eats Bling Cupcakes or Ginormous Cookies, I'm posting today's healthy meal of Skillet Gnocchi with Spinach and White Beans. Surely she must eat, right?

Gnocchi with Spinach
I absolutely love gnocchi. There's something about the little pillows of goodness that is so comforting and delicious. Smother those potato babes in pesto, meat sauce, cream sauce....I'll take it. Though with my skinny nemesis in mind, I decided to make this healthy version that's cooked in a little olive oil instead of the usual boil. It's a hearty, easy to make meal perfect for a weeknight. It also proves to you that in our household we actually eat real meals as opposed to desserts everyday :)

Skillet Gnocchi with Spinach & White Beans
Adapted from Eating Well, February '09

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 16 oz package of gnocchi
1 sweet onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
6 cups spinach, stems removed
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes with garlic & olive oil
1 15 oz can of cannelinni beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add gnocchi and pan fry for about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. In the same skillet, spray with nonstick cooking spray or add a little more olive oil. Saute onion until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until onion is soft. Add spinach and cook until spinach starts to wilt.

3. Add tomatoes, beans, pepper, and bring to a simmer. Stir in gnocchi and add cheese. Cover and cook until cheese melts.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Pink Strawberry Cupcakes for a Special Birthday

We often joke that Hallmark has a card for just about every obscure, random, and questionable holiday though I believe we celebrate a holiday that Hallmark hasn't quite captured yet. For the 2nd glorious year in a row, hubby and I have celebrated Bling's Birthday. For those that need a little clarification, Bling is my lovely dear friend that I wear everyday on my ring finger.

On New Year's Eve of 2004/2005, hubby proposed and Bling officially became a part of our lives. Since then we've celebrated Bling's Birthday on New Year's Eve, complete with cupcakes and of course, a little champagne. We're easily amused. And clearly a little crazy.

This year, hubby acquiesced to my very girly request of pink, strawberry cupcakes. A man who can make fresh strawberry cupcakes with strawberry icing is a keeper, don't you think?! With no guidance from this micro manager of the kitchen, hubby pulled off some absolutely delicious cupcakes that were gone in a just a few short days.

Fresh strawberries are folded into the cupcake batter which is lightened with non-fat yogurt; softened butter eagerly brings back the sinfulness factor. Powdered sugar, more butter and more fresh strawberries make for a sweet, light and very strawberry frosting. These are amazing and I look forward to my upcoming birthday for a few more of these treats!

Bling's Strawberry Cupcakes
Found by Hubby on Cooking with Amy

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
6 ounces vanilla yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, diced

2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 fresh strawberries (we used about 3)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. With a mixer, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg, yogurt and vanilla, blending until smooth.

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add slowly to the wet ingredients and blend, then fold in the strawberries.

3. Divide the mixture equally between the 12 paper-lined cupcake cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

4. Beat together butter, powdered sugar, and mashed strawberry in medium-size bowl until creamy and smooth. Chill frosting for 15 minutes or until thick. Frost cupcakes with a spatula. Keep cupcakes in the refrigerator loosely covered.