Monday, March 29, 2010

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

"Most chicken and broccoli recipes are disappointing messes of overcooked broccoli, dry chicken, and a bland, gloppy cheese sauce.  For this recipe, microwaving the broccoli before combining it with the chicken ensures it will be crisp-tender in the finished dish, while a sherry-cream sauce finished with Parmesan cheese has just the right hint of complex flavor and classic cheesy appeal."

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
salt and pepper
4 T unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, florets
         chopped, stems peeled and sliced thin
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler.  Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.  Trasfer to plate.

Add remaining butter and onion to empty skillet and cook over medium heat until onion is beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. 

Stir in flour and cook until golden, about 1 minute.  

Whisk in broth, cream, and sherry and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. 

Return chicken to skillet, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Transfer chicken to broiler-safe baking dish.

Meanwhile, microwave broccoli, covered, in bowl until slightly softened, 2 to 4 minutes. 

Add broccoli and 1 cup cheese to skillet.  Season with salt and pepper and pour broccoli mixture over chicken.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over top and broil until browned, 2 to 4 minutes. 

Serves 4

My Review

Broccoli is soooo good for you!  High in vitamin C and fiber, it also has anti-cancer properties and helps prevent heart disease.  This is a great way to prepare your broccoli, because it's not overcooked.  Overcooking your broccoli reduces the healthy benefits it provides.  Also, the sauce in this casserole is perfect... very flavorful, yet not too cheesy or salty.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cajun Stuffed Peppers

4 red bell peppers, halved (stem left intact), cored, and seeded
4 t olive oil
8 ounces 85 percent lean ground beef (I substituted lean ground turkey)
4 ounces andouille sausage, chopped fine
1 onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (8.8-ounce) package Uncle Ben's Ready Rice
1 T hot sauce
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
salt and pepper

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat broiler.  Microwave peppers until just tender, 3 to 6 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Add turkey, sausage, and onion and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in rice and hot sauce and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Off heat, stir in 1 cup cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Pat peppers dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Carefully brush preheated baking sheet with remaining oil.  Place peppers, cut side down, on baking sheet and broil until spotty brown, about 3 minutes.  Flip peppers and fill with meat mixture.  Top with remaining cheese.  Broil until cheese is spotty brown, about 5 minutes. 

Serves 4

My Review

This spicy cheesy dish is very satisfying and fun to prepare.  The spice is just enough and it balances nicely with the sweet red pepper.  While I don't love Uncle Ben's Ready Rice, I think it's an okay substitute when mixing in with other ingredients.  It keeps this recipe simple and easy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mexican Zucchini and Eggs

"On her 5-acre spread, Susan Mulvihill grows summer squash.  Last year she actually got ahead of the prolific zucchini by literally shrinking the squash.  Shredded and cooked over high heat, zucchini loses moisture and drops in volume fast.  Then, to make the mixture taste moist and creamy, Mulvihill scrambles in fresh eggs.  Serve the dish with salsa and warm flour tortillas."

1 pound zucchini
1 t olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
2 t dried oregano
salt and pepper
6 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup tomato salsa

Rinse zucchini, trim and discard ends, and shred.

In a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over high heat, stir oil, zucchini, onion, and oregano often until all the liquid has evaporated, about 6 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  With a fork, beat eggs to blend with 1 tablespoon water.

Turn heat to low, pour egg mixture into pan and stir with a wide spatula, scraping pan bottom often, just until eggs are softly set, 2 to 3 minutes, or as firm as you like.  Spoon onto plates and sprinkle with cheese.  Add tomato salsa, salt, and pepper to taste.

Makes 3 or 4 servings

My Review

I have breakfast burritos about once a week and this version is simply delicious.  The zucchini adds a sweet flavor and is a great combination with the eggs.  It's a fast and easy recipe and a great way to enjoy your veggies!

Monday, March 22, 2010

South Pacific Shrimp

"Vibrant Southeast Asian seasonings are a natural with shrimp.  Freeze any leftover coconut milk or refrigerate it for several days; you can use it instead of broth or water to cook rice or enrich a curry."

Marinade & Shrimp

1/3 cup lite coconut milk
2 serrano chiles or jalapeno peppers, preferably red, seeded and minced
1 t minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1 T brown sugar
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined


1 t extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced seeded tomato
4 cups baby spinach

Combine coconut milk, chiles, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, lime juice and brown sugar in a medium bowl.  Add shrimp and toss to coat.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing occasionally.  Drain well, reserving marinade.

Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp and cook, turning once, until barely pink, about 30 seconds per side; transfer to a plate.  Add tomato and spinach to the pan; cook, stirring, until the spinach starts to wilt, about 30 seconds.

Add the reserved marinade; simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.  Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the pan; heat through.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

My Review

This recipe was my husbands choice.  I asked him to pick out a dish and he grabbed a cookbook and said "cook this one!", pointing to the photo on the front cover.
It was a great choice.  The flavors were dynamic!  Very delicious... the marinade was a magic mixture.  Only next time, I will use raw shrimp!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Russian Dressing for Reuben Sandwiches

1/4 cup salad oil
1/4 cup ketchup
1 T sugar
1 T white wine vinegar or vinegar
1 T lemon juice
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t paprika
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper

In a screw-top jar combine oil, ketchup, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, salt, and pepper.  Cover and shake well.  Store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.  Shake before serving.  Makes 2/3 cup.

Drain sauerkraut (1 lb.), but do not rinse.  Add most of the dressing to the sauerkraut, mix and set aside.  Butter Black Russian Rye bread and put in grill pan.  Add cheese, corned beef, heafty amount of sauerkraut, cheese and another buttered piece of Rye bread.  Grill both sides until perfection.

My Review

I love a good Reuben sandwich, but the dressing often served is Thousand Island dressing which is too rich and sweet for me.  I like this version of Russian dressing because it's made from oil, not mayo and it's not overpowering.   Enjoy...  I did.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Jamaican Barbecued Pork Tenderloin

"As lean as chicken breast, pork tenderloin has a milder, slightly sweet flavor.  Here, it's coated with a jerk-style spice rub and grilled or broiled."

2 t firmly packed brown sugar
1 t ground allspice
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/8 t ground cloves
3/4 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb, trimmed of visible fat)
2 t white vinegar
1 1/2 t dark honey
1 t tomato paste

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the black pepper.

Rub the spice mixture over the pork and let stand for 15 minutes.

In another small bowl, combine the vinegar, honey, tomato paste, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, whisk to blend.  Set aside.

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill or broiler to medium-high or 400 F.  Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray.  Position the cooking rack 4-6 inches from the heat source.

Place the pork on the grill rack or broiler pan.  Grill or broil at medium-high heat, turning several times, until browned on all sides, 3-4 minutes total.  Remove to a cooler park of the grill or reduce the heat and continue cooking for 14-16 minutes.  Baste with the glaze and continue cooking until the pork is slightly pink inside and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 160 F, 3-4  minutes longer.  Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

To serve, slice the pork tenderloin crosswise into 16 pieces and arrange on a warmed serving platter, or divide the slices among individual plates.

Serves 4

My Review

I love making pork tenderloin because it is so versatile.  This jerk-style version has all the right flavors and spice.  Since it's not bbq season yet, I baked my tenderloin in the oven at 400 F for about 25 mins until 160 F.  It was juicy and perfect!  Ya mon!

Warm Moroccan Beet Salad with Tangerines

"The use of sweet spices with the earthy beets sets up a dramatic and delicious contrast, while the presence of tangerine juice, and zest provides a welcome dose of vitamin C.  The bright  colors of this dish will brighten any friend's day."

3 or 4 bunches baby beets, such as red, golden, candy stripe, or Chiogga
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 T water
1/8 t ground cinnamon
2 allspice berries, crushed
1 whole clove, crushed
2 T dried currants
1 T honey
1 T grated or finely minced tangerine zest
1/4 cup tangerine juice
1/2 cup tangerine segments
1 T chopped fresh mint
2 t fresh lime juice

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Remove the green beet tops.  Trim and discard the woody stems.  Rinse beets thoroughly.  

Put the beets in a large baking dish.  Toss the beets with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the water to the dish.  Cover with aluminum foil and roast until the beets feel tender when poked with a small knife or wooden skewer, about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven.  When cool, peel the beets by rubbing them between your fingers or with a kitchen towel.  Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the roasted beets, cinnamon, allspice, and clove.  Gently toss the beets with the spices until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the currants, honey, and tangerine zest and increase heat to high.  Toss until the honey just begins to caramelize, being careful not to let it burn, about 1 or 2 minutes.

Add the tangerine juice and boil until the liquid is reduced to a thick syrup.  Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl.  Add the tangerine segments, mint, and lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve warm.

Serves 4 to 6

My Review

This salad is so pleasing... to the eye and mouth and would dress up any main course!  All the flavors come together perfectly and the tangerine/ beet combination is mouthwatering.  The spices are so aromatic, they filled my home with a sweet scent.  I am excited to have found this recipe and will definately make this one again.    

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Yoga Blend Smoothie

"During Bikram-style yoga, you work up quite a sweat, which costs you a lot of important minerals.  This refreshing tropical-fruit smoothie restores lost nutrients and aids in the battle against fatigue."

1 1/2 cups quartered fresh strawberries
3/4 cup diced mango
3/4 cup chilled guava nectar
1/2 frozen banana, sliced
3 to 5 drops coconut extract (optional)

Combine the strawberries, mango, and guava nectar in a blender.  Add the banana and optional coconut extract; blend until smooth.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

My Review

Forget about going to Jamba Juice!  You can make the real thing right at home.  So easy and delicious!  If you like coconut, then it's definatley worth adding the coconut extract.  Namaste.

Sausage and Peppers with Orzo

"This dish presents a classic flavor combination in a new and unusual way.  Because it tastes delicious and goes together easily (and reheats well), it is the perfect potluck contribution."       -Tina Devlin

3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and chopped
1 1/2 pounds Italian sausages, casings removed
4 large, ripe plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 t dried oregano
1 can (49 oz.) low-sodium chicken broth
1 3/4 cups orzo pasta
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a 6- to 8-quart saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and pepper are tender and the onion is translucent, about 6 minutes.

Add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking up any clumps, until lightly browned and cooked through, about 6 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, parsley, oregano, and broth and bring to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the orzo pasta, cover, and continue cooking until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta has a soft and creamy texture, about 12 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle the mixture into a warmed serving dish or individual bowls to serve.  Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese over the top or pass the cheese at the table.

Serves 6

My Review

Mmmmmmm!  This is pure comfort food. The creamy texture is divine and it absolutely melts in your mouth.  The flavors are reminiscent of a sausage veggie pizza.  Yum!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Strawberry & Cucumber Salad with Balsamic Dressing

"Strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar are a traditional Italian dessert.  Balsamic vinegar has a mellow, aromatic flavor and a dash added to all kinds of salads and vegetable dishes enhances the taste."

1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeds removed and thinly sliced
8 oz strawberries, halved or quartered if large

Balsamic Dressing:

1 T balsamic vinegar
1 t coarse-grain mustard
1 t clear honey
3 T olive oil

Place the cucumber and the strawberries in a shallow bowl.


To make the dressing, put all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake well.


Taste the dressing for seasoning and adjust if necessary before pouring it over the cucumber and strawberries.  Toss lightly to coat and chill for 5-10 minutes before serving.


Serves 4-6

My Review

There's nothing quite like strawberries and balsamic vinegar together.  Balsamic vinegar makes a strawberry taste 10 times better!  This salad is delightful and beautiful!