Monthly Archives: March 2013

Dinner on a Cookie Sheet

After a day of doing chores and running errands I did not want to do dishes.  And I didn’t want take out.  I had good food to cook but I was interested in minimal effort.  And so I went to my cookie sheet solution.  I do this from time to time when I have nice ingredients but nothing fancy in mind.  Everything on one cookie sheet, lined with foil.  Zero dishes.  Maximum taste.  Good, simple food.

You could really use whatever ingredients you want for this.  Have fish instead?  No problem.  Different veggies? No problem!  Just spread them out like so and it will be just perfect. Adjust quantities to match the number of people you’re feeding.

Want another dinner on a cookie sheet?  Here’s a different option.

Honey Mustard Chicken Breasts with Smashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Honey Mustard Chicken Breasts with Smashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Dinner on a Cookie Sheet – Honey Mustard Chicken with Smashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Chicken breasts
1 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. coarse dijon mustard
Small red potatoes
Green beans
Mushrooms
Salt & pepper
Olive oil

In a small saucepan, boil whole potatoes until fork tender.  Preheat oven to 400˚.  Line a cookie sheet with foil.  Spray with cooking spray.  Mix honey and mustard and smear all over chicken.  Place on the cookie sheet.  Place potatoes on cookie sheet and use the flat surface of a spatula or the flat of a knife to smash.  Spread out the green beans.  Scatter a few mushrooms about.  Sprinkle everything with salt & pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

One cookie sheet, everything you need for dinner.

One cookie sheet, everything you need for dinner. Wad up the foil and call the dishes done.

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Lemony Avocado Egg Salad Lettuce Wraps

Pinterest has been both good and bad for my waistline.  So many good recipes, so little time.  But more than the exact recipes, I love it for the inspiration.   I saw a photo of egg salad made with avocados and just had to make it.  That being said, beyond the egg and avocado I veered off and did my own thing.

You can always put this on bread or roll it in a tortilla or wrap instead, but I loved it wrapped in leafy lettuce with some fruit on the side.  Light but very satisfying – and very low on the carbs!

Lemony Avocado Egg Salad

Lemony Avocado Egg Salad

Lemony Avocado Egg Salad Lettuce Wraps

4 eggs
2 small avocados
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
Zest from half a lemon
1 tsp. lemon juice
Salt & pepper
Leaf Lettuce or Boston lettuce leaves for wrapping

Boil eggs. You can use whatever method you prefer.  Here’s the way I do it:  I put a half dozen eggs in a pan, cover with water, turn the burner on high and set the timer for 15 minutes (time may vary depending on altitude).  When it goes off, I rinse with cold water, and when they are cool enough to handle, I peel the ones I want to use, and stick the rest in the fridge for salads or whatever the next day.

Score avocados (see pic) and spoon out into a bowl.

Cut in half, remove pit (if you whack it with the blade of the knife and twist, it pops right out).  Score with a knife like this, then just use a spoon to scoop out perfectly diced avocado.

Cut in half, remove pit (if you whack it with the blade of the knife and twist, it pops right out). Score with a knife like this, then just use a spoon to scoop out perfectly diced avocado.

Dice up eggs and add to bowl (you want about equal amounts of eggs and avocados).  Use a knife to slice and stab through the mixture until it’s all chopped as fine as you like it (nice high-tech method, huh?).  I like a little texture so this is how I left mine.

Use a knife to cut through chunks to make them smaller and get it all combined well.

Use a knife to cut through chunks to make them smaller.  It also combines everything really well.

Add mayo, lemon zest, lemon juice (I didn’t measure it, I just cut off a wedge and squeezed it in there) plus a pinch of salt & pepper. Mix well.  Layer two or three big leaves, plop some egg salad in there and wrap up.  Eat.

Lunch.

Lunch.

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Broiled Grapefruit

Most people think I’m pretty strange when I tell them I cook grapefruit.  But the truth is, this is absolutely the best way to eat it.  I had this once at a B&B in Taos, NM and I’ve made it like this ever since.  The combination of heat and brown sugar makes for a sweet, juicy treat.  No sour faces.  And it works well with any kind of grapefruit.  This is the perfect addition to any breakfast or brunch, and not bad for a yummy snack either.

This hardly qualifies as a recipe since there are only two ingredients, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious.  Make it today.

Broiled Grapefruit and Scrambled Eggs

Broiled Grapefruit and Scrambled Eggs

Broiled Grapefruit

Grapefruit
Brown sugar (about a teaspoon for each grapefruit half)

Preheat broiler.  Slice a bit off each end of the grapefruit so there is a little flat spot for it to sit on so it won’t roll around.  Cut grapefruit in half and set the halves in a baking dish.  Sprinkle the top of each half with a teaspoon or so of brown sugar.

grapefruit2

Broil for about 3-5 minutes, until edges begin to brown and the brown sugar has melted over the top.  Remove from oven and eat.

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Crunchy Vinegar Pork Chops

I know generally it’s a bad thing to feed an addiction.  And I am an addict.  I admit I have a terrible weakness for cookbooks.  But since I have no desire to quit, I’m happy when my friends and family feed my little habit with gifts and recommendations.  When a friend of mine recommended, Dinner: A Love Story, I just had to check it out.  Literally.  I checked it out.  From the library.  Call it a taste test drive.

After bookmarking at least a dozen recipes to try, this is the first one I settled on.  It was an easy choice.  Not only was it the first one that caught my eye (it’s early in the book) but I also had all of the ingredients to make it.  It was meant to be, right?

These were amazing.  The vinegar and lemon zest add a tangy twist and the panko gives it a beautiful crunch, while leaving the pork juicy and delicious.  Take it from me.  You need to make these.  And get this cookbook.  I’ve got two more recipes planned this week out of this baby and I can’t wait.

Crunchy Vinegar Pork Chops

Crunchy Vinegar Pork Chops

Crunchy Vinegar Pork Chops
(adapted from Dinner: A Love Story, by Jenny Rosenstrach)

4-6 pork loin chops
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups panko
Zest from one lemon
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
Olive oil

Arrange pork chops in a single layer in a large baking dish and cover with the vinegar.  Let sit for one hour at room temperature.

In a small bowl combine the panko, lemon zest, thyme, oregano and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Set up your dredging station, one dish for the panko mixture you just mixed, one dish for the flour, and one dish for the beaten eggs.

Dredging station

Dredging station

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2-3 tbsp. of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Using a fork, dredge each chop first in the flour, then the egg, then in the panko, making sure to coat all sides.  Place the chops in the hot oil, working in batches if needed.  Cook until crispy, about 4 minutes per side, until cooked through.  Remove from pan and eat hot!

Crunchy Vinegar Pork Chops

Crunchy Vinegar Pork Chops

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Rice and Mushroom Frittata

I always make too much rice.  I KNOW it will puff up and multiply in size and I’ll have plenty, but when I’m loading up the rice cooker, that tiny bit of rice in the bottom just never looks sufficient and invariably, I throw in another scoop just for good measure.  And then I have leftover rice.  Every time.

Frittatas are my go-to recipe for using up leftovers.  I had actually never made one with rice, but didn’t see any reason it wouldn’t work.  In this case, my leftover rice was a wild rice/brown rice/other stuff blend (called Royal Blend if you care).  I really like it because it’s not boring, lots of great texture and a nutty flavor.  It worked beautifully in my frittata, but I think just plain white or brown rice would be fine too.  Use whatever you’ve got and you’ll be golden.

Rice & Mushroom Frittata

Rice & Mushroom Frittata

Rice & Mushroom Frittata

1 cup cooked rice
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
5 eggs
Salt & pepper

Heat a medium size skillet (I use a 10 inch skillet for these usually) over medium heat.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil in the pan.  Add mushrooms, onions and jalapeno and sauté for a couple of minutes.  Add rice and cook one or two minutes more until rice is heated through.

The foundation for the frittata.

The foundation for the frittata.

Meanwhile in a bowl, beat eggs with a pinch of salt & pepper.  Pour eggs over rice and veggies and swirl around so they are evenly distributed in the pan (no worries if it doesn’t cover the other ingredients completely).  Sprinkle with tomatoes and cheese.  Cover with a lid and turn down heat to medium low.  Cook for 5-10 minutes until top is set and eggs are not runny.  Slice into wedges and serve.  Serves 3-4.

 

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Roasted Cauliflower “Fries”

If you can’t eat french fries every night, the least you can do is cook your other veggies up in a way you can pretend they are fries.  This is my favorite way to cook cauliflower (closely followed by my Cheesy Cauliflower Bake but this one is a LOT healthier).  It turns out tender but with a little crunchiness on the edges.  No mushy veggies here.  Even your pickiest vegetable haters will go for this one.

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower “Fries”

Roasted Cauliflower “Fries”

1 head cauliflower
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. olive oil

*All of the above measurements are completely open to interpretation.  I sprinkle, I pinch, I drizzle.  But some people like to measure so I guessed at how much I put on there.  Feel free to adjust to your tastes.

Preheat the oven to 400˚.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Break up or chop cauliflower into bite sized pieces and spread on the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with spices.  Drizzle with oil.  Toss around a bit with your fingers to coat all of the cauliflower.

Raw cauliflower tossed with spices and a bit of oil.

Raw cauliflower tossed with spices and a bit of oil.

Bake for 30 minutes until cauliflower is tender and starting to brown on the edges.  I usually stir around once or twice in there during the cooking time.

Roasted cauliflower, fresh out of the oven.

Roasted cauliflower, fresh out of the oven.

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Blackened Chicken Salad

I’ve been doing a fair amount of yoga lately.  Which is a wonderful thing.  It feels great and it’s good for me.  My mind and body and spirit are all thanking me.  But that also means I’m spending a lot of time looking in large mirrors at myself in yoga clothes.  And that leads me to this post, which is about eating MORE SALAD!

But this is not just any salad.  If you are going to eat salad, it should be a magnificent salad.  This qualifies.  The chicken has so much flavor it’s practically jumping off the plate and the homemade dressing is simply divine.  Full of flavor (and easier on the waistline than the stuff out of a bottle) and has a cooling effect on the heat of the spices on the chicken.  All together, it just works beautifully.  You won’t even notice you’re eating something healthy.

Blackened Chicken Salad.  Incredible!

Blackened Chicken Salad. Incredible!

Blackened Chicken Salad
(from canyoustayfordinner.com)

2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 pound chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2″ cutlets
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
8 cups mixed salad (lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and whatever else you like)

Buttermilk Dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (you can sub light sour cream in a pinch)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. fresh chives
1 tbsp. fresh parsley
1 tsp. dill
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
3/4 – 1 cup low fat buttermilk

Combine the first 6 ingredients (seasonings through salt) in a small bowl.  Rub all over chicken cutlets on both sides.

Spice mix to "blacken" the chicken.  I would rub this on just about anything.

Spice mix to “blacken” the chicken. I would rub this on just about anything.

Add 2 tsp. olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half the cutlets to the pan.  Cook cutlets for 5 minutes on each side.  Remove to a plate and repeat with the other 2 tsp. olive oil and the other half of the cutlets.

If this looks freaking fantastic, just wait until you taste it!

If this looks freaking fantastic, just wait until you taste it!

While cutlets are cooking, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, garlic powder, chives, parsley, dill, salt & pepper.  Whisk in vinegar, then 3/4 cup buttermilk, add a bit more buttermilk until it’s the consistency you like. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Lighter buttermilk ranch dressing.  So much better than the stuff in a bottle.

Lighter buttermilk ranch dressing. So much better than the stuff in a bottle.  And isn’t that the cutest little pig whisk you’ve ever seen?

Combine salad ingredients and divide among 4 plates.  Slice chicken cutlets and add to the top of each salad.  Drizzle with dressing and serve more on the side.

Where's my fork?

Where’s my fork?

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Tomato Feta Spaghetti

Sometimes you have days where you don’t want to cook.  But you still want real food.  For those days, I have dishes like this.  This is a ten minute dinner, folks.  It only takes a couple of minutes longer than making a PBJ and you will not regret the tiny bit of effort.  Simple, healthy ingredients come together in minutes and burst with flavor.

I usually make this (or something like it) when I have produce that needs to be used and I’m not feeling terribly creative about it.  If your grape tomatoes are starting to wrinkle, don’t worry!  A little toss in the pan will plump them right up again.  In summertime, I sometimes don’t even cook the tomatoes and spinach for this, but just toss them with the hot pasta.  In winter, when I want it a little more saucy, I cook them just for a minute or two, so they are warm but still bright and juicy.

Tomato Feta Spaghetti

Tomato Feta Spaghetti

Tomato Feta Spaghetti

1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups spinach, chopped
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup feta cheese
Salt & pepper
1 package thin spaghetti (or any noodle you like)

Do your chopping and slicing first so everything is ready, as this dish comes together very quickly!

Spinach and Tomatoes ready to roll!

Spinach and Tomatoes ready to roll!

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta until tender but not mushy.  While pasta cooks, drizzle a bit of olive oil in a skillet and saute onion.  When onion is tender add garlic and cook one minute.  Add spinach, tomatoes, and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Saute 1-2 minutes, and then turn heat off.

Sauteed veggies.  Note that I have not cooked these things to a pulp.  For a fresh burst of flavor, they just need a little heat for a minute or two.

Veggies in the pan for a quick sauté.  Note that I have not cooked these things to a pulp. For a fresh burst of flavor, they just need a little heat for a minute or two.

Drain pasta and toss with veggies and feta.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Serve by itself or with a protein or salad.

This worked well as a side dish for Asian-Inspired Pork Loin (or is the pork the side dish?), but it's also great just by itself.

This worked well as a side dish for Asian-Inspired Pork Loin (or is the pork the side dish?), but it’s also great just by itself.

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Jello Pinwheels

Jello is one of those things that’s fun to make, fun to play with…and that I usually have no desire to eat.  I’m not sure why that is.  Is it that I associate it with being sick and low-carb diets?  Maybe.  I don’t hate it, but I rarely go out of my way to have some.  My kids feel the same way.  That being said, occasionally we see a recipe that needs to be made, just for the fun of it.  So we’ve made the jello aquarium (complete with Spongebob and friends), we’ve pinned jello oranges, and now we’ve discovered jello pinwheels.

These jello pinwheels are easy to make, and they involve marshmallows, which in my opinion only improves the jello.  They are definitely a fun snack, especially for the smaller kids I think.  I’d love to tell you we gobbled them up like crazy but I think we had more fun playing with them and making them than actually eating them.  But if you’re a jello fan, they are a must.

Jello Roll-ups

Jello Rollups
(from Joy of Jello)

1 (3 oz) package of jello
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Lightly spray an 8 or 9 inch square pan with cooking spray.

Stir together water and jello powder and microwave for one minute.  Remove and stir to make sure all the jello is dissolved.  Microwave a few seconds more if needed.

Add marshmallows and return to microwave for 20-40 seconds, until marshmallows just begin to puff.  This is the key to a successful marshmallow layer! If you overcook the marshmallows they will just dissolve and you will not have two distinct layers.

Whisk quickly until marshmallows have dissolved.  Pour into prepared pan and chill in the fridge for at least 45 minutes, until well set.  The creamy marshmallow layer will float to the top.

Remove the pan from the fridge.  The jello should be very firm and easy to handle.  Gently pull one side away from the pan and lift the entire sheet onto the counter or other clean surface.  Starting at one end, roll up tightly.  With the seam side down, cut into 1/2 inch pinwheels.  An easy way to do this is with a piece of thread or dental floss.  Simply put the string around the roll, cross and pull. Makes 10-12 pinwheels.

Easiest way to cut the pinwheels.

Easiest way to cut the pinwheels.

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