Monday, September 16, 2013

Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola Bites

These delicious little bites can be made for just about any occasion, and the filling is super versatile! This filling can be used with the Filo cups like I use in the recipe, or you could also substitute puff pastry to make a giant tart, or top naan bread with it for a great pear and Gorgonzola pizza! Be creative with it!

2 Bosc pears - peeled, cored and halved
1 large Vidalia onion, diced finely
1/2 cup good quality Gorgonzola cheese (or more if you like, just be careful it's salty!)
1 TBS Olive oil
1 pinch crushed red pepper
2 packages Filo cups (found in freezer section next to regular filo dough)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to Roast 400

In a lidded casserole dish place your pears and just enough water to cover the bottom of your pan. Make sure your pears are all laying flat on the bottom of the pan for even roasting. Sprinkle pears with 1 pinch of salt, cover with lid for 15 mins, then uncover and roast for 15 more mins or until golden brown and tender.

When pears are finished allow to cool slightly then dice into 1/4" chunks

While your pears are cooking add olive oil and onions to sautée pan. Sprinkle some salt, pepper and crushed red pepper on top. Cook over medium heat for about 5 mins, until onions are heated through, then lower heat very low and cook Until onions are golden brown and translucent.

Line a cookie sheet with the Filo cups. Fill each Filo cup 1/4 of the way with onions, then top with diced pears and Gorgonzola. Pop back Into the oven for approximately 5 mins, or until cheese is melted and cups are crispy. Enjoy!!

*Note: these can be made a couple of hours in advance, just fill the cups inside the packaging they come in, cover and refrigerate, then place in oven right before you're ready to serve.

*Shortcut: If you don't have 30 mins for your pears to roast you can always dice them up and sautee them with your onions. They don't look as pretty but taste just as good!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chicken Francese

So it's been waaaaay too long since I last posted! Sorry about that y'all, but things have gotten kinda hectic 'round here. My cousin Lora has been requesting that I post my recipe for Chicken Francese for months now, so this one is for you Lora!! It's my parents recipe, and in my opinion it's the best Francese I've ever had, so I hope you all enjoy it!

Chicken Francese

Serves 4

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 C flour for dredging
3 Large Eggs
1/4 C Chopped FRESH Parsley
1/4 C Chopped FRESH Basil
1/2 C Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese (either will do)
4 TBS Olive Oil
2 Large Lemons, Zested and Juiced
3/4 C White Wine
2 TBS Butter, Chilled and Cubed
1 tsp Crushed red pepper
Salt and Pepper to Taste

First we are going to start by butterflying the chicken breasts, this step is very important in order to get a nice tender piece of chicken.  What you want to do is take your chicken breast and lay it on a cutting board (preferrably a plastic one). Put your hand on top of it and press down, then with your filet knife you'll carefully cut your chicken breast right at the middle. Bring it about 3/4 of the way through the breast and stop. You do not want to cut the breasts in half, however, if you do don't panic, you'll just have more pieces of chicken! After you butterfly them they need to be pounded. Place the piece of chicken between 2 pieces of wax paper to keep the mess to a minimum, then using the flat side of your mallet pound the chicken a few times to get it nice and tender. Be careful not to over pound it, otherwise you'll wind up with chicken shreds that have no texture. Repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken until all are done.(If this seems like too much work for you then you can always buy the pre-cut chicken cutlets in the meat section of the grocery store)

Now we're going to set up a dredging station. On a shallow plate mix your Flour, salt and pepper together and set aside. Beat all 3 eggs in a bowl, then add the Basil, Parsley, Parmesan cheese and mix well. The mixture will seem thick, but the consistency will be fine to coat the chicken with.

In a skillet heat the 4 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium high heat until oil is nice and hot.  You can tell when the oil is hot enough by using the back end of a wooden spoon, you just place it into the oil and if you see the oil bubbling around it then you know you are ready to fry your chicken.

Grab your first piece of chicken and run it through your flour dredging station, make sure the entire cutlet is covered with the flour, then place it into your egg bowl. Coat the piece entirely and then quickly put into the hot oil. You want to cook the chicken until it's browned and then flip over and brown the other side. You don't need to worry about cooking the chicken all of the way through at this point, we are just looking for a nice browning. Once your chicken is browned set aside on a plate and repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken until all are finished. You may need to add more oil throughout this process, make sure to let the oil come back up to heat before you put your next piece of chicken in.

Once you've finished cooking all of your chicken lower the oil down to medium low heat. Add crushed red pepper to pan. Take the butter that you've chilled and cubed, and roll it through the leftover flour from the dredging, then add it to the pan with remaining oil. Stir frequently until the butter has melted then add the wine to deglaze the pan. Raise the heat up to Medium High and let the alcohol cook out, approximately 3 minutes. Make sure to scrape up all of the little browned bits on the bottom of the pan from when you cooked the chicken, that's where all of the best flavor is. Once wine has cooked out add your lemon juice and zest to the pan and reduce heat to medium low again. Add chicken to pan, turn to coat and let simmer until fully cooked, approximately 5 minutes. Serve with pasta or roasted potatoes, the picture is shown with Gnocchi.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I love meatballs, all different kinds, but today I'm focusing on the traditional Italian meatballs, ones that are nice and juicy and melt in your mouth.  Yes, it is absolutely possible for a meatball to melt in your mouth! I promise! If you make this meatball as directed I promise you will have an awesome dinner!

Italian Meatballs

8 servings
Yield 24 Meatballs
7 WW points per Serving

2 Lbs Lean Ground Beef (You could use chuck for more flavor, but it definitely increases the calorie count)
3/4 C Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 Eggs
1/2 C Tomato Sauce (Good Quality Jar sauce is fine)
2 Healthy pinches of Salt (Anything but iodized salt, please!)
1 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
3/4 C Italian Bread Crumbs
3 - 4 Cloves Grated FRESH Garlic (The jarred stuff is horrible)

Preheat oven to 425

In a bowl mix all of the ingredients together until well combined.  If the mixture is too loose you may need to add more breadcrumbs. It should be moist but able to hold together. If more breadcrumbs are needed add a little bit at a time until the meat can form a ball without falling apart.

To Cook these I bake them in the oven. I use a cookie cooling sheet and place it on top of the baking pan, spray with cooking spray. Roll the balls into Golf Ball sized meatballs. Anything larger than that takes too long to cook and can get dried out. Place the balls onto your cookie sheet and bake in the oven until evenly browned on top and cooked through the middle, approximately 15 minutes. You can serve them as is, or you can add them to your tomato sauce and let simmer.

Notes: You can use ground turkey instead of beef, however I'm not a fan of turkey so you'll rarely ever see me suggest it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bruschetta Two Ways in Filo Cups

Bruschetta is one of my favorite foods, it's one of those things that you can change up infinite ways and still have it be fabulous. This post will have 2 different kinds, both shown served in Filo Dough cups, but of course they are equally delicious on some toasted Italian bread, on top of a burger or chicken sandwich, or even with tortilla chips as a dip! Don't be afraid to experiment with the recipe either, sometimes you can make a good thing even better!

Tomato Avocado Bruschetta

Serves 12

1 8 oz container of grape tomatoes, quartered
1 Ripe Haas Avocado, diced into small squares
1 TBS Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 TBS Good Quality Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 C Grated Parmesan
1 Clove Garlic Grated (Optional)
1 Handful Basil, Finely Chopped
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste
2 Packages of Athenos Filo Cups

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a bowl mix the Tomatoes, Avocado, Olive oil and toss until coated. Then add Garlic, Salt, Pepper, Parmesan, Basil, and Balsamic and toss to coat again.

Line your Filo cups up on a cookie sheet and pop into the oven for 4 or 5 minutes, until crispy and golden brown. They do not need to spend much time in there, and this step can actually be skipped all together if you're short on time. I like to put them in just to crisp them up and give that good crunch.

Let set aside until cool to the touch, then fill each cup with a teaspoon of bruschetta. You can serve as is, or grate some Parmesan over the top for garnish.

Notes: You can substitute Florida Avocado's for the Haas variety, but I find that the flavor of a Haas is much richer and produces a better product.

If you want to change it up a bit you can replace the Balsamic with Lemon juice, and the Basil with Cilantro. It's delicious both ways.

Caprese Bruschetta

Serves 12

1 8 oz container of grape tomatoes, quartered
1 Large Ball of Fresh Mozzerella (or 2 small)
1 Large Vidalia Onion, Finely Diced
1 TBS Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Divided
2 TBS Good Quality Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 C Grated Parmesan
1 Clove Garlic Grated (Optional)

1 Handful Basil, Finely Chopped
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste
2 Packages of Athenos Filo Cups

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a small saute pan add 1 TBS Olive Oil  and Onion. Cook over Medium/Low heat until onions are Translucent.  Add the Garlic and continue to cook  until Onions are Caramalized. Once finished transfer the mixture to a plate and spread evenly so it will quickly cool to room temperature.

In a bowl mix the Tomatoes, Mozzarella Cheese, Onions and Basil until well coated. Add  Salt, Pepper, Parmesan and Balsamic and toss to coat again.

Line your Filo cups up on a cookie sheet and pop into the oven for 4 or 5 minutes, until crispy and golden brown. They do not need to spend much time in there, and this step can actually be skipped all together if you're short on time. I like to put them in just to crisp them up and give that good crunch.

Let set aside until cool to the touch, then fill each cup with a teaspoon of bruschetta. You can serve as is, or grate some Parmesan over the top for garnish.

Notes: If you want to skip the onions step, you can, but they do add a nice sweetness to the mixture. If you omit the onions then just add the grated garlic directly into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Greek Chicken and Spinach Spring Rolls

Every once in a while I have an abundance of leftover "stuff" that I used to make recipes, and I look at my refrigerator and say to myself "What the hell am I going to do with all of this??", and That, my friends, is how recipes like this one are born! The other day I made Rachael Ray's Cheesesteak egg rolls, and subsequently had a bunch of egg roll wrappers left, with no clue what to do with them. Then I thought of this recipe, and boy am I glad I did! This could be one of my new "go to" recipes for entertaining. It's easy and Delicious.

Greek Chicken and Spinach Spring Rolls

10 Servings
3 WW Points per Serving
10 Eggroll Wrappers
1 Large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, Cooked (Boiled, Steamed, or Leftover Rotisserie)
1 9 oz package Frozen Chopped Spinach, Thawed and Squeezed Dry
2 Oz Crumbled Feta
1/2 Vidalia Onion, Chopped
1 TBS butter
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Butter Flavored Cooking Spray
1 Small cup of water

Preheat oven to 375

Melt the butter in a Saute pan over medium. Add onions and garlic and cook over medium/low heat until they caramelize. While your onions are cooking, Shred your chicken into small shreds and place in a large bowl.  Add your spinach, feta, Parmesan, salt and pepper and set aside until onions are ready. When onions are finished add them to the bowl and mix well.

Lay your eggroll wrappers on a clean counterop. Take 2 spoons of your filling and put on the edge of the eggroll wrapper. Line it up all along the one side of it so that you can roll it into a cigar like shape.  I do not tuck the edges on these, however if you wanted to you certainly could. Roll the eggroll wrapper until it covers the filling. Then, using your fingers or a pastry brush, moisten the remaining section of the eggroll wrapper with the water. This water acts as your glue to hold it together. Then finish rolling the rest of the way and repeat with the rest of the wrappers. 

Once all of your spring rolls are wrapped, place on a cookie cooling grate on top of a cookie sheet - this way the air circulates all the way around the spring roll to keep it crispy. Spray lightly with cooking spray and place into oven. Cook for 15 mins, then turn over and cook for another 5, or until a nice golden brown color.

If you want to serve these as an appetizer at a party, you could cut your spring rolls into thirds to make them bite size. Your baking time will adjust due to the size, so keep an eye on them. These are great served with the Tzatziki recipe found here.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I've had a day from hell, and after a day from hell nothing hits the spot like some comfort food, and what's more comforting than a bowl of cheesy goodness to fill your belly? I love Panera Bread's broccoli cheese soup, but I don't love the price tag that comes with it (or the fat and calories for that matter). This is a less calorie laden bowl of soup than you'll find in a restaurant, with more veggies too, so it's a lot more filling and you feel satisfied when you're done! For the broccoli, You could buy the heads, or you could cheat and buy the pre-cut and pre-washed florets in the fresh section like I did. You know, the ones you can steam in the bag? It makes it 100x easier and it's not that much more expensive than buying the whole head and doing all the work yourself.

Broccoli Cheese Soup
Serves 4
11 WW Points Per Serving

2 Heads of Broccoli Florets (or 2 bags)
1/2 Vidalia Onion, Finely Chopped
1 Cup Shredded Carrots
4 Ribs of Celery, Finely Chopped
2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Cups Skim Milk
8 Wedges Laughing Cow Queso Cheese, room temperature
4 oz Neufchatel cheese, room temperature (by the cream cheese in the dairy case)
1 TBS Flour
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put the broccoli in a microwave safe bowl and cover tightly, microwave for about 5 minutes or until the broccoli is tender. Add olive oil, onion, celery, and carrots to a sauce pan and saute until celery and carrots are tender, and the onions are translucent, add the flour. Stir until well dissolved and let cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add broccoli, chicken broth and milk. Bring to a slow boil and then lower to simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Using a potato masher, break up the Broccoli so it's not large chunks of florets. Add the queso and neufchatel cheese to the pot and stir until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper and serve!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

I love shrimp cocktail. It's one of my favorite foods to eat, and they are quite possibly one of the fastest foods to cook.  I prefer to buy raw shrimp and cook them myself, I feel they just taste better that way, but if you don't want to do the actual cooking of the shrimp your seafood guy will steam them for you at no extra charge. All you have to do is ask! I know it takes a little more time than just buying the frozen pre cooked shrimp, but trust me it's worth the extra step to get that deliciously satisfying crunch when you bite into that shrimp.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

4 Servings
6 WW Points Per Serving

2 Lbs Peeled and Deveined shrimp
1/2 Cup Cilantro Leaves
2 Cloves Garlic - Minced
1 Lime, Juiced and Zested
1 TBS Water
1 TBS Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Prepare a large bowl of ice and water and set aside. Rinse shrimp and place in a shallow pan. Add enough water to cover shrimp 1/2 way, cover and cook on high until shrimp just turn solid white and pink. Approximately 5 minutes (depending on the size of the shrimp). It's very important not to walk away while your shrimp are cooking because you want to take them out of the water just after they turn solid, otherwise you will overcook them and they'll taste rubbery.  When you take the shrimp out of the pan, put them in the ice water to stop the cooking immediately.

In a food processor combine your Cilantro, Garlic, Lime Juice, Lime Zest, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper. Turn the processor on and add the water a little bit at a time until everything is able to move freely. You may or may not need more than the 1 TBS of water. Be careful not to add too much though, you don't want to dilute the flavors. 

Drain your shrimp from the water, pat dry and toss with your Cilantro Lime Dressing. You can serve immediately or place in the refrigerator to marinate.