Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ah Mexican Food-I Have Missed You

Mexican food isn't all that bad for you, really. Chicken tacos with lettuce & salsa-not so bad. Even tostadas (baked) are high in fiber. But whenever I go out for mexican, its always the cream based seafood enchilada with cheesy queso sauce. Yeah, I dont think thats good for you. So, during diet time, we just avoid mexican b/c it will surely break the diet bank.

Now I can make Mexican at home fairly healthy as well, but those plain chicken tacos in corn tortillas, they just dont taste nearly as good as the aforementioned seafood enchilada. So I decided to attempt this enchilada casserole. Sure looked good and there wasn't really a cream sauce to it (just sort of). It had all the ingredients we could eat, so we sacrificed lunch time by having grilled chicken tenders and a veggie soup, so we could eat up the enchilada casserole. And my oh my was it worth it! Prep time is a bit long and then take on another 30-40 minutes of baking time, yikes! There are definelty short cuts you could take, like cooking & shredding the chicken the night before, to decrease the time.

Enchilada Casserole
Cooking spray
1 1/4 pounds skinned, boned chicken breast
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup beer ** Oh so not diet friendly, I used chicken broth
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper **Here I used one whole adobe chile pepper with about 1 Tbsp of the Chiptole sauce
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped *Since I used some of the sauce above, I cut this back to 22 or so oz
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions **Omitted, didn't have any
1 (2 1/4-ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained **Used diced olives
2 (4.5-ounce) cans chopped green chiles, drained **I used one can
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour **Here I cut the sauce in 1/2, so 2 1/2 Tbsp flour
1/2 teaspoon salt *1/4 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin *1/4 tsp
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander *didnt have, so omitted
2 cups 1% low-fat milk *1 cup milk
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten or 6 tablespoons egg substitute *3Tbsp egg substitute
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
6 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut in half
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream **Didnt use
1/2 cup salsa **didnt use

Preheat oven to 350°.
Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium heat until hot. Add chicken; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from skillet; let cool. Shred chicken with 2 forks; set aside.

Recoat skillet with cooking spray; place over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add shredded chicken, beer, red pepper, and tomatoes; cook 10 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates. Remove from heat. Reserve 1 tablespoon green onions and 1 tablespoon olives for garnish. Stir remaining green onions, remaining olives, and chiles into chicken mixture; set aside.

Combine flour, salt, cumin, and coriander in a medium saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Place over medium heat; cook 7 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Gradually add hot milk mixture to egg whites, stirring constantly with whisk. Set aside.

Place cheeses in a bowl; toss well. Set aside.

Spread 1/2 cup white sauce in bottom of a 2 1/2-quart round casserole or soufflé dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 tortilla halves over sauce; top with 2 cups chicken mixture, 1/2 cup white sauce, and 1/2 cup cheese mixture. Repeat layers twice, ending with sauce. Set remaining 1/2 cup cheese mixture aside.
** I only had 2 smaller Pyrex bowls, so I did 2 of those and one large round dish**

Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 40 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese mixture, reserved green onions, and reserved olives; bake an additional 5 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream and salsa.

NOTE: You can assemble the casserole ahead of time; cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight, then bake at 350º for 1 hours or until bubbly. Or freeze casserole, thaw in refrigerator 24 hours, then bake for 1 hour or until thoroughly heated.

Needless to say it was very good. It made 6 servings.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

oh Elly! Thank You!

I haven't been able to make an EllySaysOpa recipe in awhile. I have made many of Elly's recipes and not one has ever not been welcomed with a "this is really good! You have to make this again!" Dern diet & new year's resolutions make my list of Elly recipes I want to try grow longer & longer. But alas! She recently posted a Greco Linguini. Now, I planned our day so we had no carbs for breakfast or lunch so we could have some for dinner-just to try this recipe!

I wont post the recipe again, because I will force you to visit Elly's site, as she has a wonderful collection of unique dishes, but here are some of the things I changed. Greco Linguine!

It was really good!! I subbed whole wheat thin pasta & added some toasted pine nuts. I also didn't have any fresh tomatoes at home, so I just used a can of diced tomatoes that I seasoned with oregano. Definetly on the list to make again!

What a sad, sad plate

So I am trying to be positive and promote healthy eating and such. Well. This dish, while good, sure looks plain & boring. I wanted to make a Chicken Cordon Bleu. Chicken is on the diet, ham & 2% Mozz cheese. Easy enough right? We had a busy Sunday and didn't get home until late. I was feeling too lazy to actually pound & stuff the chicken, so I figured I would just saute it and place the cheese & ham on top.

Don't get me wrong, this is really good! Just the pictures don't do it justice & served with only green beans-BORING! If you aren't watching your carb intake, I say have a baked potato or even garlic mashed potatoes would be delicious.

Anyway, I made this recipe up so there isn't much to it.
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Chicken Breast
Deli Ham
2% Mozz cheese
about 1/4 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth (low sodium)

Bring a saute pan to high heat. Trim any excess fat off the chicken. Season one side of the chicken with salt & pepper. Place seasoned side down in the pan. Sear for about 3-5 minutes. While that side is searing, season the other side with S&P. Flip chicken over & sear. Reduce heat to medium & add wine. Let this boil off. Then add chicken broth, reduce heat to low, cover & simmer for about 20 minutes. (My chicken breasts were very thick so I needed to cook them for quite some time. In order to keep them moist, I used the chicken broth) Once the chicken is fully cooked, top with mozz cheese & ham. Cover again, for about 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"I can't believe this is on our diet"

Those were the words spoken from the Hubs after his first bite. I have come to realize that you can pretty much make any dish diet friendly. I say pretty much, because, well lets face it, alfredo can not be diet-friendly. And some remakes are so-so, but some you can make that still taste delicious. My diet take on Chicken Parmesan happens to be one of those things.

I was going to make these without any breading, my friend Julie said it was sacrilege to do so. I had some whole wheat bread at home, so I toasted them up and made my own whole wheat/whole grain bread crumbs with the food processor.
I make my own marinara sauce because its so easy. Just saute up some onions & garlic. Then add tomato sauce, canned tomatoes & Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, parsley) bring to a simmer while you work with the chicken.
Trim the fat off the chicken. Next, dip the chicken breasts into egg beaters, then into a breadcrumb & Parmesan cheese mixture.
In a misto-prepared glass baking dish, pour some marinara sauce along the bottom. Place the breaded chicken in the pan. Cover the pan with foil and cook for about 30 minutes at 375. Remove the foil, pour remaining sauce over the chicken & top with mozzarella cheese. Put the dish back in the oven, uncovered for about 15 minutes.

I served this with whole wheat angle hair spaghetti. This will make its way back into the menus. It sort of sucks, b/c this is all the carbohydrates we can have for one day, but I think we will be able to handle soup & salad for lunch knowing this is going to be for dinner.

Tilapia Round 2

What is it that people say? You are your own worst critic. Its sad that this memory has stuck with me over the past 2 years, but I really do pride myself on my cooking skills and when something doesn't taste good or turn out right, I get pretty upset.
Rewind to the summer of 2006. I had bought some tilapia at the store, it was on sale and I had never made anything with it. I figured-what they hey- lets try it out. I think I did foil packets in my preparation-probably with some spinach. I opened the pouched and took a nice big wiff when the steam came out. Expecting to smell something good, but instead, I about passed out. I don't know what was wrong-it smelled like old smelly fish. I haven't attempted it since.

Well, after 3 weeks of P90X, there is only so much salmon & chicken a person can take. Sam's Club has tilapia individually frozen, so I took some out and decided to have a go at it again. I mixed together some lemon juice & garlic and marinated the fish for about 20 minutes. Next I seasoned them with parsley, salt & pepper.
I decided I would broil them. I could have grilled but at -5 degrees, I didn't really want to go outside.
After spraying the broil pan so they wouldn't stick, I broiled the fish for about 12 minutes.

With the fish, we had beans with almonds and a salad. The salad had apples, cucumbers, mixed greens & feta cheese. I made my own dressing with balsamic vinegar, a little olive oil and a little salad oil, I seasoned it with oregano.

So this tilapia turned out much better. I am going to say that the it was the fish on the failed attempt almost 2 years ago and not the cook!

Egg Souffle

Funny story here. I didn't realize that I was making an egg souffle. I was actually trying to make mini quiches for the Hubs and I to have for breakfast, but that didn't work out so well. So for those that think souffles are hard, they aren't. In fact, you can accidentally make it!

1 1/2 container of egg beaters
sauteed mushrooms (you can sub any veggie in here)
mozz cheese
deli ham, turkey or chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
S&P and other spices you desire

In a bowl, whisk the egg beaters with the spices. In individual sized casserole bowls, layer shrooms on the bottom, then chicken, the cheese. Pour eggs over the top. Don't fill this too much or they will overflow. (I did fill them too much) If you think they are going to overflow, place on a cookie sheet prior to putting them in the oven.
I believe I cooked these for like 35-45 minutes at 350. Basically until the eggs are firm.

And people don't lie, they do really fall fast!

Leftover Makeover

I don't mind leftovers. In fact, sometimes I think they taste better the second time around. But with this diet, we are somewhat limited on what we can and cannot eat, so leftovers make cooking life even more boring.
I decided that the leftover chicken & mushroom sauce we had the other night would make a good panini. The chicken with the mushroom sauce was good without bread, surely it was going to be good wedged between bread right??
Well it was. I forgot my camera the day we had the chicken w/mushroom sauce, so I don't have a picture of the original meal, but here is the panini & the recipes.

I just pounded these out until they were thin, seasoned with salt, pepper & parsley and sauteed in a pan.

Mushroom Sauce:
1 cup presliced mushrooms
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
1/3 cup fat-free sour cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Saute the mushrooms, onions & garlic until soft. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer until sauce thickens.

2 slices whole wheat bread
2% mozzarella cheese
leftover chicken & mushroom sauce

Make your sandwich with the above ingredients. Place in a grill pan or panini pan, If you have a press, you can use it, other wise, you can use another pan to press down on the panini.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mini Muffins!

Yowser! Its been awhile since I updated!! Sorry everyone! I have been cooking and such, just been busy! Plus I have been living off stir fry for the past few weeks, and if you recall from the last bought of P90X, I was pretty tired of posting about it.
Anyway, I received this great mini-muffin pan from my friend Kala for Christmas. Now, muffins are a total no on the diet, but I decided that a) I couldn't waste my bananas b) they are mini, thus mini-calories & c) it was a Christmas present I hadn't used yet!
In an effort to keep somewhat to the diet I tried to use something that didn't have butter in it.

I got this recipe for

1 cup all-purpose flour ** I used whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup sour cream ** I used low fat sour cream
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together banana, sugar, egg and vanilla. Stir in the sour cream. Stir banana mixture into flour until just combined. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool before serving. For best flavor, place in an airtight container or bag overnight.

Aren't they cute!

They were not greasy at all which is what I was looking for!!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pecan Crusted Salmon

You know when you eat zero carbs with a meal and you just don't feel like you ate anything? I think society did this to us. I am so used to the "meat, veggie, potato" combo or the "meat, veggie, pasta/rice/etc..." combo that when I don't have any carbs, I sometimes feel like I have eaten nothing. I think its the "crunch" factor. No crunch=not filling. After reading a few recipes, I thought, well we can have nuts on this diet, so maybe I should make some type of pecan crusted something. Well I had pulled some salmon out so by default it became pecan crusted salmon.

Get about 1 cup of pecans and puree in a food processor until they look like bread crumbs. I seasoned them with S&P. Place in a bowl. Next I took my salmon and drenched it in egg whites, then in the pecan puree. Place on a foiled and sprayed cookie sheet. Bake in the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes. If the salmon isn't done, increase to 415 for about 5 more minutes.

I served these with a California medley of vegetables. I will say, it was quite filling. The extra crunch of the pecans definitely made the meal fuller, more complete.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bayou Shrimp Creole

Another simple recipe, perfect for when we are short on time. Yesterday we didn't get our workout in during the day, so we had to do it when we got home. Well that means I don't normally start cooking until 7pm. I needed something fast. We are allowed one serving of carbs per day and we hadn't had any so this looked perfect!

This is from the Del Monte Website. I always stock up on canned tomatoes. The hubs and I love them! (Hence our 8 tomato plants we had in our garden)
Bayou Shrimp Creole
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, thinly sliced
1 cup green pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
3/4 tsp thyme
1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled and halved lengthwise * I used already peeled & cooked shrimp
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) DEL MONTE® Cajun Recipe Stewed Tomatoes * I substituted regular canned tomatoes and seasoned with a Cajun seasoning I had at home
1/4 cup DEL MONTE Tomato Paste
In a large saute pan, spray with Misto. Add onions, celery, green pepper and garlic. Cook until tender. Add tomatoes, cajun seasoning, thyme and tomato paste. Cook for about 15 minutes so the flavors blend.
Meantime, start a pot of boiling water. When boiling add your brown rice. I just use minute rice, I don't have time for anything else.
When the sauce has simmered for about 10 mins, add the shrimp, cook for about 5 more minutes then remove from heat.

To serve: place 1 cup of brown rice on a plate and top with about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of creole. This made enough for the hubs and I to have dinner and lunch.

PS: Come to think of it, I didn't use celery in the chicken tortilla soup, I used it here...

Chicken Tortilla Soup (minus the tortillas)

Ok so last time I did this P90X I was a freak show. I put a lot of emphasis on cooking and I didn't want to do plain things. That's what ruined it for me, trying to come up with new ideas. I have been quite a bit more lax this time around and it seems to be working.
Every Sunday, I make a big batch of soup. Something that we can have throughout the week, either 1 cup with dinner or 2 cups for lunch. It definitely builds up the protein/veggie intake, without filling you up (as much) And when you eat as much as we are supposed to, you take what you can get. This also takes the pressure off making dinner and lunch in the same night. I will pair this soup with a chef salad or a regular tossed salad, or even a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread.
This week was Chicken Tortilla Soup. Mostly gathered from Nemmie's Blog, but also from some of my past tortilla soup recipes. But the tortillas, well they aren't really on the diet.
Chicken Non-Tortilla Soup
About 6 cups chicken broth
2 cups tomato sauce
1 can Ro-Tel
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can diced green chilis
about 4-6 chicken breasts *I shortcut here and used 2 cans of all white chicken
1 cup celery, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Lime Juice
cayenne pepper
ground cumin

Combine everything through the garlic cloves in a large stock pot or dutch oven. Simmer for 30-45 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for another 30-45 minutes. Add more spices or cilantro depending on how hot you like it. Keep in mind, Ro-Tel us SPICY! So be cautious.
I hadn't made chicken tortilla soup with cilantro before, mostly b/c I am not a huge fan of cilantro, but this was really good!

For diet friendly options, you can top with a few slices of avocado and some baked corn tortillas. If you want to go all out, add some cheese & sour cream!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Good filling

So remember the stuffed mushrooms from below?? Well, dont you think that would be good stuffed in chicken? Or, even better--> SALMON!!!
Yes salmon stuffed with spinach and feta.

So I used the same recipe for the stuffing:
2 cups spinach
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
S&P to taste

But I also added one garlic clove while I pureed it in the food processor. Then I placed a layer of the filling on the salmon and rolled it up, securing with a toothpick. I topped the fish with a little more filling, only because I had some left.

I cooked these en papillote also. I have a history that whenever I stuff something, the insides ooze out, so I figured I'd better cook these the same way. At 350-375 for about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Yea! Hubs cooked for us!!

I had some work I needed to do around 6pm last night, so I told the hubs he could make dinner. I had taken out some salmon for us and let him know what I had planned to make. He went with it and it was fabulous!

We had Nemmie's Chopped Salad as an app (the way I made it before, without the chicken & pasta) I truly believe its the salad dressing. Its amazing.
He steamed some cauliflower & topped it off with cheddar cheese (2% cheese, not all that fat). And for the salmon, he drizzle sun-dried tomato olive oil over the salmon, topped it off with spinach & sliced mushrooms. He cooked these en papillote, which is just a fancy word for cooking the food in a foil or parchment paper packet. I love cooking fish this way because it stays so moist, especially when you are cooking at high temperatures. He cooked ours at 350 for 20 minutes & realized it was nowhere close to being done, so I up'd it to 400 for about 15 minutes.

I may just let him in the kicthen more often.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What is this? Good Diet Food?

Night #1 of P90X. This is when I get the most stressed. We have completed our workout during the day, but need to come home & finish up the ab video. Then make dinner & prepare breakfast & lunch for the next day-AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!
Last night, not too bad. On the menu was steamed broccoli with a little garlic, grilled chicken & stuffed mushrooms. Yes, I did say stuffed mushrooms. For the chicken, I decided to marinate in lime juice and then I seasoned it with chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin and a southwest blend. This reminded me of my friend Julie's Spicy Garlic Lime Chicken. Only she gets pasta with hers. The best part, the leftover chicken is being made into soft tacos for lunch today!

For the stuffed mushrooms, I found a recipe in the American Cancer Society's "The New American Plate Cookbook" . Their recipe served about 20 shrooms (we didn't need that many) and it had bread crumbs (which we couldn't have) so here is my edited version

Stuff Shrooms
8 large mushrooms, wiped clean with the stems pulled off
2 cups spinach
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
S&P to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a cookie sheet with Misto. Place your shroom caps on the baking sheet, cap side down.
Meanwhile, boil 4 cups of water. Blanch about 2 cups of spinach. Place spinach in a paper towel and wring out the water-as much as you can get.
Place spinach, feta cheese, parm cheese and S&P in a food processor. Pulse until fully mixed.
Take about 1 tbsp and place in the shroom hole.

Put in oven for about 20 mins.

These were awesome and you know, we will take whatever we can get being on this diet. They would make a great appetizer for a party if you are trying to be healthy friendly. The hubs asked if we would have them for dinner tomorrow night.

Monday, January 7, 2008

And it begins....

The New Year's Resolution Diet.

You all know what I am talking about. Well, we only made it through one month of P90X back in July & August, so we decided to pick it up again & make through all 3 months. And to be honest, first day back, it wasn't that bad. Ask me tomorrow, I'll have a different answer.
I was really stressed out last time with the diet portion of this program. You eat a ton of food, enough to where the hubs & I could not eat anymore and we would waste. I also, somehow, thought we should have leftovers, so each meal was something different. And when you are cooking for 2 people at a combined 4000 calories a day, oh with 2 snacks. You become to hate cooking. My goal, take it easy! It doesn't need to be that hard.

The hubs & I spent most of Sunday at Sam's Club & the grocery store, stocking up on supplies. Thankfully, the swiss steak was already going, so I had time to make the vegetable soup that we needed for the week. This is so easy & really quite healthy. It felt good to cleanse the body of the all the nasty food we have had lately.

Vegetable Soup
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup sliced onions
1 1/2 cups celery
1 1/2 cups mushrooms
2 cups zucchini
8 oz tomato sauce
1 14 oz can tomatoes
garlic powder

In a large stockpot, bring broth, carrots, onions & celery to a boil. Simmer until they veggies are soft.
Add the remaining ingredients. For the garlic powder & sage, just put in how much you like.
Let the soup simmer for 30-45 mins. This will make about 10-12 1 cup servings. So perfect for the week.

Swiss Steak Take Two

So a few months back, I decided that for dinner one night I would whip up some swiss steak in the crockpot. The hubs & I buy a half a cow from a butcher each year, so we always have some round steak or something sitting around. Well, I was all proud for prepping the food the night before. I set it the pot in the fridge overnight, pulled it out before work & set the crock pot timer. See we have one of those where you can set it for how ever many hours & then it will kick to warm when its done. Fast forward to a full work day and the hubs & I walk in the house. "Hubs- I don't smell anything, that can't be good." As I walk toward the crockpot, I see the giant "PF" on the microwave
PF=Power Failure=Crockpot turned off.
YUM, swiss steak that has been left on the counter all day.

So last night, after hubs & I had eaten out 4 meals in 3 days, I needed to make something. I had round steak left, so I pulled that out on Saturday. It was defrosted by Sunday and I was able to successfully make swiss steak.

Swiss Steak
1 lb round steak cut into serving size pieces
3 red potatoes, washed & diced
2 cups carrots, cut into 1" pieces
1 onion, quartered and sliced
1 can tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup beef broth
1 can golden mushroom soup

In a saute pan, brown the round steak. Season with S&P.
In the crockpot, place the veggies on the bottom of the crockpot. Place browned round steak on top. Season with Aromat.
Pour liquids over the top. Set crockpot to high for about 6-8 hours. Checking every so often for it to thicken up.

This tastes a lot like stew.

Mr. DoughBoy to thank...

I have been a bad foodie blogger. The hubs & I were preparing to start a new diet/workout plan on 01/07. In the meantime, I have been using up whatever is in the house & we've been eating out. There was no point in buying a pound of pasta, when we can't eat it.

Prior to the diet though, I was perusing the p.chop & found some boxed mixes on sale. The Cinnamon Crumb Cake looked good, and imagine how excited i was when I saw on the side of the box that they used a bundt pan! I had been looking for a reason to use my bundt pan, that I have had for a few years.

The hubs brought it into work & everyone loved it. I said "You can thank Mr. Doughboy for that"