Monday, February 16, 2009

Scallops in parchment paper

This was a recipe I adapted from Real Simple. It truly is simple, and quite tasty! The only change I would make next time might be to cook it a shade under 15min -- maybe it was just that my scallops weren't that big, but they were slightly overcooked. Anyway, it was very good -- definitely making it again!

15-ounce can white (cannellini) beans, rinsed
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup cooked chopped bacon
1 Tbsp parsley flakes
1.5 Tbsp minced garlic
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry
butter, optional

Heat oven to 400° F. Gently toss the onions, beans, garlic, rosemary, parsley, bacon, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Tear off four 15-inch squares of parchment paper and arrange on 2 baking sheets (or use bigger sheets and just fold over). Spoon some of the bean mixture into the center of each square. Place the scallops on top of the beans. Dot scallops with a bit of butter if desired. Top with 4 more squares of parchment and fold the edges over several times to seal. Bake for 15 minutes (depends on size of scallops - 15min probably right if med-large). Transfer each packet to a plate. Serve with a knife to slit the package open, and be careful of the steam that will escape.

Yield: Makes 4 servings


Thin Mint No-Bake Cheesecake

I made this after inspired by a recipe from Baking Bites. Unfortunately, I didn't have the ingredients it needed so I made another type of cheesecake I found online. I wouldn't do this fact, while this is a good idea in theory, if I made this again I would make a regular baked cheesecake w/ thin mint crust and maybe mix in some thin mint chunks.

I'll post the way I made it the first time here, as it wasn't *that* isn't really my thing anyway, so it was part of Scott's Valentine's Day gift and he seems to be enjoying it just the same.

No-Bake Vanilla Cheesecake with Thin Mint Crust

1 box Thin Mint-type cookies*
2 tbsp butter, softened

16-oz cream cheese, softened (low fat is fine)
1 package Dream Whip
1 c. sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)

1. Lightly butter the sides, but not the bottom, of a 9-inch springform pan.In a food processor, whiz together Thin mints and butter until mixture is coarse crumbs. Press cookie crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate crust for 20-30 minutes.
2. Soften cream cheese; beat with sugar until smooth.
3. Prepare dream whip according to pkg directions
4. Fold dream whip into cheese mixture.
5. Pour cheesecake filling into prepared pan and rap gently on the counter to even out the surface of the cake and shift any large air bubbles out of the batter. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, until well-set. Slice with a warm, clean knife to get neat slices.
Serves 8-10.

*A box of Thin Mints (or Grasshoppers, which are the same things but cheaper and available year-round!) should have 36 cookies in it. I used 32 cookies for my crust. While you can incorporate all of them, I liked using the leftovers to garnish the top of the cake.

Slow-cooker healthy turkey chili

This is a recipe I got from Hungry Girl. I think it turned out pretty well, but definitely needed some sour cream (I used Fage yogurt actually) mixed in, and was good served with cornbread (what isn't?). In the future I might consider using soy crumbles or something, as I was totally wild about the turkey. But all in all a good recipe that I would indeed make again!

10-Alarm Turkey Chili

1 lb. raw lean ground turkey (I actually used 20 oz)
One 29-oz. can tomato sauce
One 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
One 15-oz. can chili beans (pinto beans in chili sauce), undrained
One 15-oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup canned sweet corn, drained
4 - 5 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped, sauce reserved (2 - 3 if you don't want it crazy hot!)
2 bell peppers (in different colors), chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 oz. VERY dark chocolate (70%+ cacao), broken into small pieces
salt, to taste
Optional topping: fat-free sour cream, low-fat cheese

Directions: Bring a large pan sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat on the stove. Add turkey and spread it around in the pan to break it up a bit. Cook and crumble until meat is brown and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Drain any fat or liquid, and then transfer turkey to the crock pot. Add all other ingredients except for the chocolate to the crock pot. Add 1 tbsp. adobo sauce (from the canned chipotles). Mix well to combine. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, and then reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 3 hours. (OR cover and cook on low for 6 - 7 hours straight.) Add chocolate and stir until pieces melt and disappear into chili. Cover and cook for 1 hour longer on low. Add salt to taste. If you like, top each serving with a little sour cream and/or low-fat cheese. MAKES 12 SERVINGS

PER SERVING (about 1 cup): 172 calories, 3.5g fat, 790mg sodium, 22.5g carbs, 5.5g fiber, 6.5g sugars, 13g protein -- POINTS® value 3

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Black and White Chocolate Streusel Cake

This was a recipe I sort of made up on a whim, but was really happy with how it turned out (it even elicited a love letter (to the cake!) from a friend who tried some. I was trying to get rid of a box of cake mix, but plan to try this again soon truly from scratch to see if I can get it even better.

1 package (18.25 ounces) yellow cake mix (butter recipe if possible)
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

3/4 cups white chocolate chips
3/4 cups dark chocolate chunks/chips, both chopped into *very* small pieces (think almost flakes) in food processor

1/2 cup white sugar
6 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bundt pan.
2. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. After scraping sides of the bowl, increase mixer speed to medium and blend 1 1/2 to 2 min­utes more-- the batter will look thick but well combined. Gently stir in 1/2 cup of the white and dark chocolate flakes until uniformly mixed.
3. Make streusel topping, stirring in remaining cup of white/dark chocolate flakes.
4. Pour 1/3 of the batter into pan. Sprinkle ~1/3-1/2 of streusal mix on top, cover with 1/3 more batter, then more streusel. Spread remaining batter on top and sprinkle with remaining streusel.
5. Bake until cake is golden and fork comes out almost clean, about ~45-50min.
6. Place pan on a cooling rack for at least 15min.
7. To frost, you could make chocolate drizzle from chocolate chips, or feel free to use store-bought icing, put it in a ziploc bag, warm in microwave, cut of teeny-tiny opening at corner of bag and drizzle over cake in lots of thin lines. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Baked Quinoa with Spinach and Cheese

This is an adaptation of recipe from one of my latest favorite blog finds, Culinary in the Desert.
I changed some things up based on what I had in the house and also just some taste preferences.
I was really happy with how it turned out -- light but satisfying. Makes a good side dish or even a light main dish.

3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
6 ounces baby spinach (I used fresh that had been frozen)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (somewhat optional, I think)
2 garlic cloves, minced
garlic salt and fresh ground black pepper

4 cups cooked quinoa (I used Inca Red variety)
2 large eggs (egg whites work just as well I think)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (for my lactose free version I used American-style SmartBeat and it was still good)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion and mushrooms - cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach, season with salt and fresh ground black pepper - toss together, then remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, beat together eggs and season with garlic salt. Stir in cooked quinoa, spinach mixture, and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Season with fresh ground black pepper and scoop mixture into a 2 quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Scatter remaining cheese over the top and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil if desired. Place dish into the and bake until golden on top, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.Makes about 4 to 6 servings.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Gnocchi with garlicky spinach and butternut squash

This isn't so much a recipe for gnocchi as it is a recipe for a side-dish made with already-made gnocchi. :-)

Anyway, I threw it all together last night and was very happy with the results.

1 package gnocchi (I find it at Trader Joe's and even SuperTarget)
~1 Tbsp olive oil (Pam works ok too but things do end up a bit drier)
2 tsp minced garlic
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup spinach, chopped (I used fresh spinach that had been frozen in the freezer)
1 cup butternut squash cubes, cooked (in oven at 400F about 30min)

1. Heat oil in skillet, add onions and garlic. (Heat should be ~medium)
2. Add gnocchi and cook until browned and slightly crispy on the outside.
3. Stir in spinach until wilted, add butternut squash and cook until heated.
4. Salt and pepper to taste.

Additional comment added 2/16: Made this again over the weekend, but added cooked bacon to it and it was delicious!