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.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chicken Cordon Blue with Cheesy Wine Sauce

My husband absolutely loves Chicken Cordon Blue, so naturally he was Super Excited when I told him that I was making it tonight. That excitement didn't last long when he realized it would be a slimmed down version of the dish. I told him, don't worry, you'll never miss the fat! This dish came out so tasty and the delicious cheesy, creamy wine sauce made it feel downright sinful, but with only 12 Weight Watchers points per serving you can eat it and still feel good about yourself in the morning. Oh, and by the way, please pay no mind to the size of the chicken in my picture! These were quite possibly the smallest chicken breasts that I've ever seen, but the points are calculated using the size of a normal chicken breast.

Chicken Cordon Blue with Cheesy Wine Sauce
 Serves 4
12 WW Points Per Serving 

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
4 Slices Black Forest Ham
4 Slices Reduced Fat Swiss Cheese
8 Wedges Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese
1/2 Onion Diced
1 Large Clove Garlic
1 TBS Olive Oil
1 TBS Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 Cup White Wine
1/2 Cup Low Sodium Fat Free Chicken Broth
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven to Roast 400 Degrees. Start by Butterflying your chicken breasts. You do this by laying your chicken breast flat on a cutting board, place your knife 1/2 way down the thickness of the breast and slowly cut until you are just a little bit more than 3/4 of the way through. The key to this is that you do NOT cut all the way through the breast. Once all of the breasts are butterflied open place them one by one between 2 sheets of wax paper and lightly pound them. You don't want to pound too hard or your breasts will fall apart. If you're scared of pounding meat you can skip this step, but it does make it more tender. Lay your butterflied chicken breast back on your cutting board and place 1 slice of ham and 1 slice of cheese on it, then roll the chicken up and secure with a toothpick (if necessary). Sprinkle Salt, Pepper and Parmesan cheese over the tops of the breasts and set aside.

Heat your Olive Oil in a skillet and heat on Medium High. Once oil is hot place the chicken breasts in the pan seam side down. Flip over after about 3 minutes to brown on all sides. Once breasts are browned remove them from the pan and place in a roasting pan. Do not discard the contents of the pan you seared them in, just set it aside off the heat.  Place in the oven and roast the chicken for approximately 15 minutes, or until cooked through. 

To make the Sauce: 

Take the pan that you used to sear the chicken and add the onion too it, saute until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add Garlic and stir for 1 minute, then deglaze the pan with your wine. Make sure to scrape up all those little yummy bits that the chicken left behind! Let wine simmer for 1 minute then add the Laughing Cow Cheese.  Stir until melted and let simmer. Add the Chicken Broth one tablespoon at a time, until it's the desired consistency. Serve by spooning over the Chicken and Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Carnitas Tacos with Homemade Salsa

Ah, pork. One of my favorite meats. It's probably what stops me from getting a pot belly pig as a pet, because lets face it, you can't love on the little oinker when you're having a delicious pulled pork taco for dinner. It just wouldn't be right! This recipe is fantastic if you're looking for a good recipe to throw into the slow cooker, and it goes great with the post I made earlier for Cilantro Lime Rice.

Carnitas (Pulled Pork) Tacos
Serves 8
9 WW points per serving

2 lbs Boston Butt Roast
1Vidalia or Red Onion Sliced
1 Green Pepper Sliced
1/4 Cup of Dry Red Wine
1/4 Cup of Chicken Broth
2 TBS Chili Powder
1 TBS Cumin
1 TBS Adobo Powder with Pepper (If you don't have this you can substitute Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder)
16 Small Flour Tortillas
1 Cup Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese - Shredded
Fresh Spinach Leaves (or Lettuce)
Chopped Onion
Salsa (Recipe below)

Preheat oven to Roast 350 degrees. Place all vegetables, Red Wine, and Chicken broth into a dutch oven, or slow cooker. Prep your meat by rinsing it, patting it dry and rubbing the Adobo and Chili powder into all sides of the roast. Once that's done, place on top of your vegetables and put in the oven for approximately 3 hours or until meat is tender and falling apart. If you're using a slow cooker you can put it on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.

Once meat is cooked, remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Using 2 forks pull the meat apart into shreds and place back into bowl, drizzle a little bit of the juices that are left behind over meat to keep moist.

Warm the Tortillas in the microwave by wrapping in a moist paper towel and microwaving for 1 minute, or until hot. Place a small amount of meat in the tortilla and top with the 1 TBS Cheddar, Spinach, Onion and Salsa.

Serving Suggestions:

This makes a fantastic Double Decker Taco! Just heat up some refried beans, spread over the flour tortilla then place a hard shell taco on top of it. Flatten it out by cracking in half at the seam, then fill with meat and toppings. Don't forget to adjust the weight watchers points, if you're counting!

Fresh Blender Salsa

Serves 10
0 WW points per serving

1 28oz can of Diced Tomatoes, Drained
2 Jalepenos, halved and seeded
2 Large cloves of Garlic
1 large handful of Cilantro
1 Small Vidalia Onion
Zest and Juice of 2 Limes
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Place all ingredients into a blender and turn on high until well blended. Pour mixture from Blender into a small sauce pan and simmer on low for 15 minutes, then let cool, pour and serve! Some Jalapeno's are spicier than others, I like to start by putting one in and then adding the second if needed.  Also, if you like your salsa really spicy then leave the seeds in - that's where all of the heat is.

Cilantro Lime Rice

If you've ever been to Chipotle and had their rice that they put in the burritos and bowls, and you've said "wow, I love this rice" then this recipe is for you! It's basically a knock off version of it, but I personally think it's a lot tastier. I like a lot of flavor in my rice, but if you're not too big on the lime flavor then I'd suggest you cut down on the lime zest and only use half of the suggested amount. Also, I am making this recipe with Jasmine rice, because that's my favorite and I find that it has the best texture, but you could definitely substitute brown rice or quinoa for a healthier option. This recipe is incredibly tasty, and it doesn't get much easier than this!

Cilantro Lime Rice

6 WW points per servings
Serves 4

2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1 Cup Jasmine Rice, Uncooked
1 Large Lime, Zested and Juiced (or 2 small)
2 Cloves Garlic - Crushed
2 TBS Butter, cut into small cubes
1 Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper
1 large handful of FRESH Cilantro (Must be fresh or frozen, no dried) chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook the rice with the chicken stock according to the directions on the bag. Here's a tip for cooking rice - Don't touch it while cooking! The best thing that you can do when making rice is bring your liquids to a boil, add your rice and stir for 1 minute, then put the lid on and lower your heat to low and leave it alone until its done.  When your timer goes off, keep that lid on and remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes and you'll have beautiful fluffy rice every time.  If you take the lid off and stir it, or fuss with it, the rice tends to get all clumpy which is not what you want.

While the rice is cooking, combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and set aside. After you've let your rice sit for the 5 minutes, pour the bowl over the rice and mix well, serve along side some grilled chicken or in your favorite burritos!

Alternate uses for dressing: If you substitute the butter for 2 TBS of olive oil in the dressing you can use this to marinate Chicken, Pork, or Steak! It's a fantastic all purpose dressing that I've changed up in numerous ways and it always impresses.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chicken Pita with Tzatziki and Greek Lemon Potatoes

So today was one of those days where no matter what you do there just isn't enough time in the day. As I was rushing to get dressed and get out the door I realized that I had not prepared anything for dinner....oops! As you can imagine, my husband has gotten quite spoiled with his fancy dinners every night. I had to throw something together quick and decided a little Greek food was the way to go....This is perfect because I could prepare it quickly before I left and leave it to marinate and get all tasty in the refrigerator until I was ready to cook it, and wow did I ever pick the right day to make sure it was prepared before I left! Thanks to a fender bender down the street of my house I was stuck in some lovely traffic for over an hour. By the time I made it home it was 7:00 and we were both starving so I just pulled everything out of the refrigerator and stuck my potatoes in the oven, heated up my grill and I was ready to go! And of course, because my day was going so well up until this point, I  unfortunately got a very untimely phone call, which of course made it so that I couldn't take any pictures. I tried to wait the guy out, really, I did, but he was a talker and I was hungry - So I hope you enjoy the stock photos that I pulled from random places on the internet. Really, I know, bad blogger!

For the Chicken:

1 lb boneless skinless split chicken breasts
1 vidalia or red onion sliced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS dried (or fresh) dill
Salt and Pepper to taste

Throw all ingredients (except for the chicken, of course) into a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour over chicken and marinate for 2-3 hours, to overnight, in the refrigerator. When you're ready to cook, throw the chicken on the grill and cook until juices run clear.

For the Tzatziki sauce:

1 6oz cup of plain fat free yogurt (Can use regular or Greek, but I prefer regular)
1 cucumbers peeled, seeded and sliced
1 TBS Lemon Zest
1 TBS Lemon Juice
1 clove garlic crushed or grated
1 TBS Dill (dry or fresh)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put the cucumber into the food processor, sprinkle a little salt on top and blend until smooth, or slightly chunky - whichever your preferences is. Once processed put into a coffee filter lined colander and allow to drain for a few minutes. Don't be afraid to give it a little squeeze now and then to help it drain faster. Really, it's okay, I do it all the time (I'm impatient). Once you've gotten your cucumber sufficiently drained throw it into a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well blended. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

For the potatoes:

1-2 lbs Potatoes, cut into wedges
1 lemon zested and juiced
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 Cloves garlic crushed or grated
2 TBS Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven to Roast 400. Combine all ingredients in a shallow glass or coated pan, toss until evenly coated. Put in the oven and cook on until potatoes are tender and golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.

The Potatoes, Tzatziki sauce and the Chicken can be prepared ahead to make this dinner super quick to put together.

For the Pita Sandwich:

4 Pita or Round Flatbreads (I prefer the Toufuyan Flatbreads)
1/2 Onion, Sliced
1 Tomato, Diced
1 Container Crumbled Feta cheese - As much as you like!
1 Cup Lettuce or Spinach
4 pieces of tin foil big enough to wrap sandwich in

Throw the flatbreads/pitas onto the grill when your chicken is 1-2 minutes from being done. Lay the flatbread onto your tin foil square, top it with your Chicken, Feta cheese, onion, tomato, lettuce and Tzatziki sauce. Fold it up like a taco and wrap in the tin foil to keep it all together (You could skip this step, but it makes it SO much easier to eat). I hope you Enjoy it as much as my husband did. He scarfed his entire meal down before I got off the untimely phone call!

Variations: Try adding some chopped Kalamata olives, fresh slices of cucumber, or whatever other veggies you like to the sandwich!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Sometimes you're just in the mood for a nice, hearty, Soul warming soup - and this soup hits that spot perfectly! There's just something about roasted root vegetables that is just so inviting. I made this soup originally because I wanted a nutritious, low fat and low calorie soup that tasted good - so I wouldn't have to feel guilty when I went back for seconds. Now it has become a staple in my diet while I'm on my way to a single digit dress size....hopefully lol.  I hope you'll all enjoy this soup as much as I have.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1 Large Butternut Squash - Halved and Seeded
1 Bunch of Celery, Cleaned and Quartered
1 Bag Baby Carrots
1 Large Vidalia (or Sweet) Onion, Quartered
2 Bulbs Garlic
1 Handful Fresh Parsley
2 Quarts Fat Free, Low sodium Chicken broth or stock
1 Cup Splenda with Brown Sugar
4 TBS Olive Oil 
1 TBS Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Preheat oven to Roast 400 degrees. 

Place squash face down in dutch oven, add Celery, Carrots and Onion to the pan. Drizzle 2 TBS of the olive oil over the top (reserve the rest for later use), salt and pepper. Take the 2 bulbs of garlic and cut the bottoms off, leave bulb whole.  Drizzle remaining 2 TBS of olive oil over the top, sprinkle salt and pepper, and wrap individually in tin foil. Place in pan with the rest of the vegetables and roast in oven uncovered for 45 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender. 

Once you remove the pan from the oven, place on stove top and remove the tin foil covered garlic and the butternut squash and set both aside to cool until you are able to handle them. Scoop contents of the squash into the pot with the rest of the vegetables and squeeze all of that delicious buttery garlic into the pot too.  Add the entire 2 quarts of chicken stock and the Parsley to the pot and let simmer for about 15 minutes. 

For this next step an Immersion blender is the best to use, however, if you don't have that your regular blender will do.  Just remember to vent the top for the steam and DO NOT fill the blender up all the way, otherwise you will most certainly wind up burning yourself and making a mess.  Stick your immersion blender into the pot and blend until the soup is nice and smooth.  Once that soup is nice and smooth, stir in the Brown Sugar and Nutmeg.  Let simmer another 5 minutes and Enjoy!

Here are some ideas to change this recipe up a bit: 

  • Add a cup of cooked Barley or Quinoa to the soup to make it a little more hearty
  • Roast a couple Apples, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, or other root vegetables up with the rest of the veggies, then just peel and throw into the mix. They will add a nice flavor.
  • You can add a dollop of Cream, Sour Cream, or Creme Fraiche to the soup when you serve
  • Try floating a shot of Sherry on top to give it a Bisque flavor
If you have any other ideas for ways to change it up, please share with the rest of us!  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Guilt Free Spinach Cream Sauce

Ok, so I finally went and did it. I decided to start a blog. For what seems like forever I've been getting requests for recipes, or getting asked how to make things, so I figured - Why not? For those of you that don't know me, I'll tell you a little about myself. I'm a Floridian, born and raised, and I come from a *very* Italian family. We love to eat, and we love to feed people! I started cooking when I was a kid alongside my parents in the kitchen, and that's where my passion was born. 

So here's a new recipe that I've come up with, Hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as I did!

Guilt Free Spinach Cream Sauce

2 Servings
4 WW Points per serving

1 Vidalia Onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Plum Tomato, diced
1 Cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 Handful of Fresh Basil
4 Sprigs Fresh Parsley
3 Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese wedges
1/2 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 pinch of crushed red pepper
1 TBS Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Add Olive Oil, Onion and Crushed Red Pepper to a frying pan. Saute on low until onions are translucent and a beautiful caramel brown color. Add Garlic, Spinach, Basil, Parsley and Tomato and saute until Spinach is wilted and Tomatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the 3 cheese wedges and stir until melted, then add the chicken broth and let simmer until you have a thickened creamy sauce. Finish off with the salt and pepper and serve on top of your favorite pasta or ravioli! (I swear the pictures will get better as I go along lol)