Apr 292010
 
As you might have figured out from my last post, this past weekend I went to sweet home Chicago.  After an action packed weekend of bachelorette shenanigans, I packed up my things to head back to the big apple.  Not so fast, cackled American Airlines, as they canceled my flight and re-booked me for the next day.  So instead of pouting and stressing about my 4 am wake up call the next morning, I decided to make the most of my extra time at home in my mother’s beautiful and spacious kitchen (my happy place).  Because when life gives you lemons, you make chicken chili.


This chili was incredible…although chili I don’t think is necessarily the right name for it but I couldn’t think of anything else or defy Sara Foster.  It’s more like the love child of a chicken tortilla soup and a chili–brothy and light but still packed full of chili flavor and chunky veggies.  I started by chopping up my fresh ingredients.


First I sauteed the onions, garlic, red pepper and jalapeno.  Then you add the spices—cumin, chili powder, and dried basil.


Then you add the liquids.  Chicken broth, tomatoes, and…wait for it…BEER.  Cool, right?


Then I shredded up the chicken…about 4 cups.  I cheated and used a tasty rotisserie chicken that my dad picked up from Costco, his favorite weekend hot spot…I’m not kidding.  You could also use any chicken you have.  Add the chicken and beans to the soup and simmer for another 30 minutes. 


The soup itself was great, but then my mom and I discovered how to really help the soup reach it’s maximum potential.  A dollop of guacamole.  Crucial.  The smoothness balances the spice of the chili perfectly.  I also made a cheese quesadilla with low fat cheese and whole wheat tortillas to use as a dipper. 


Nutritional Highlights:  Recent research has given a ton of well deserved credit to spicy food.  Hot food has the ability to boost your metabolism, help burn fat, and keep you feeling full longer.  It also might have positive effects on cholesterol buildup and certain types of cancer.  Now I don’t know if all that’s true, but I do know spicy food tastes really good.  This easy soup is also full of veggies and lean protein.  It’s a well rounded meal all in one bowl and perfect for a rainy day when your flight gets canceled, for example.  


Chicken Chili with White Beans 
adapted from “The Foster’s Market Cookbook” by Sara Foster

Ingredients:
·      2 cups canned canellinni beans (or any other beans you like)
·      3 tablespoons olive oil
·      1 yellow onion, chopped
·      1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
·      1 jalapeno, chopped, with seeds (or half the seeds if can’t take the heat)
·      6 garlic cloves, minced
·      1 tablespoon chili powder
·      2 teaspoons ground cumin
·      1.5 teaspoon dried basil
·      8 cups low sodium chicken broth
·      One 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes
·      12 ounces beer (I used Corona but I imagine you can use whatever’s in you’re fridge)
·      1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
·      ¼ cup cornmeal
·      4 cups shredded chicken
·      Salt and Pepper to taste (recipe recommends 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper but I used much less salt…taste it and decide because it’s easier to add than remove :)
·      Cilantro and/or guacamole to garnish

Directions:
1.  Heat olive oil over medium heat in soup pot.  Add onion and saute about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add bell pepper, jalapeno, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
2.  Stir in chili powder, cumin, and basil and cook for 2-3 minutes.
3.  Add broth, tomatoes, beer, Worcestershire sauce, and cornmeal.  Let cook about 10 minutes.
4.  Bring soup to a simmer and add the beans and chicken.  Let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5.  For an optimal experience, add some fresh cilantro, shredded cheese, and/or guacamole as a garnish. 
6.  Go to bed early so you don’t miss your 6 am flight.  Ugh, you win this time American Airlines… 
   
Apr 262010
 
This is a very special blog post.  Usually, it’s all about me…I pick a recipe I think I would like, I make it, and I write about how I think it turned out and how to recreate it.  But there’s no I in Bachelorette Party.  This weekend I had the pleasure of going home to Chicago for my big sister Brea’s Bachelorette party.  And since my flight back to New York today was canceled and I have some extra time on my hands at home, I decided to post this as a tribute to one of the best weekends EVER!  In honor of Brea’s soon to be Mrs-hood, I chose 3 of her favorite foods and made “mini” versions, because if you know Brea, you know she loves everything to be the miniest.  Especially princes (if that makes no sense to you just ignore it 😉

 

The first of the trifecta of mini treats I called “Mini Baked Brie-a’s”.  Basically it was a miniature phyllo shell filled with a little bit of brie, drizzled with honey, and topped with an apple or pear slice after they baked in the oven for 8 minutes on 350. These were SO yummy and would be an impressive and simple appetizer for entertaining guests.

 

The second were the “Miniest New York Margharita Pizza’s”.  Brea LOVES pizza and this one was extra special because I brought the whole wheat dough home from my favorite NY pizzaria, rolled it out and used a cookie cutter to make mini circles.  Then I topped with a little marinara sauce, a slice of fresh mozzarella, one slice of plum tomato and some fresh basil.  Bake at 425 for about 8 minutes and you have delicious tiny pizzas!

 

The final appetizer might not seem like party fare to all, but oddly enough Brea’s obsessed with tuna salad.  Not just any tuna…tuna from Hillcrest (a restaurant in our area).  So, I pre-ordered some of this particular tuna, cut a long thin baguette of whole wheat bread, and topped with lettuce and tomato.  They not only made a great appetizer for her party, but also a great hang over lunch for the day after.  Side note: don’t get spoiled by these beautiful pics…I used my sisters fancy camera but hope to soon own a similar one (subtle hint to all friends, family, and boyfriend).

 

So that was my contribution to that party…and also a cake that WILL NOT be featured on the blog for various reasons.  I couldn’t be happier for my sister Brea and couldn’t choose a better hubbie for her and new brother for me.  And to conclude with a verse from the poem Jenna and I wrote for the day:
“We hope this day has been filled, with all the things that bring you joy,
You are the perfect friend and sister, and will make a beautiful Mrs. Malloy!”
Apr 222010
 
I really love a good burger.  Half because of the burger, and half because of the French fries that tend to accompany it.  Who are we kidding, it’s more like 30/70.  I’ve made a lot of burger variations that will probably eventually make a cameo on this site,  but when I recently decided to cut back my meat intake a bit, I decided it was time to try a portabella burger.  And I’m not saying it’s going to replace my other burger recipes, but it has definitely earned a place in the rotation.


These were SO easy to make and would be a simple addition to your summer bbq’s to please your vegetarian friends.  First create the marinade with herbs, garlic, balsamic, and olive oil.  Put the mushrooms in a zip lock container and let them soak up the marinade for a good 30 minutes.


While that is working, get going on your sweet potato “fries”…I use the word fries lightly because these ones are baked…but still amazingly fry-like.  Cutting sweet potatoes is a process and a workout.  Cut them into what ever shape you prefer your fries.  I like them on the thin side but wedges would work too if that’s your thing.


Drizzle the fries with olive oil, then sprinkles with salt and chili powder.  I’m not into the whole putting sugar/cinnamon on your sweet potatoes because they’re already so amazingly sweet.  That’s why I try to pick something with a kick to get the sweet/savory flavor contrast going.  Toss the fries around so they’re evenly coated and spread out on your baking sheet.  Try to make it so the fries don’t touch.   The more you spread them out, the crispier they get.


Alright, 30 minutes has passed and your fries just went in the oven.  Time to cook those burgers.  I used my George Foreman because it wasn’t really outdoor grilling weather yet and because I hate cleaning grill pans, but either of those could work just as well.  Please ignore the meat burger on the left.  Fine, I admit it…my name is Marissa, and I have a carnivorous boyfriend.  


When these just about done, put some crumbled goat cheese into the cap so it will begin to melt.  And then assemble your burgers.  I put spinach, tomato, and a little avocado on mine, but feel free to use your favorite toppings.  And guess what…the carnivorous boyfriend I speak of tasted my burger and thought it was great!  Let the conversion begin…

Nutritional highlights:  Portabella mushrooms might not be as vitamin rich as say, spinach, but they are definitely good for you…full of fiber, iron, protein, and potassium.  The real highlight of this dish though is that between that bun is a low calorie, low fat mushroom rather than a greasy patty of who knows what kind of ground meat.  For comparison sake…one portabella mushroom is 30 calories, where a 3 oz (pretty small) hamburger has about 250.  And that’s without the bun and the toppings.  And then for the sweet potato fries.  The center for science in the public interest ranked sweet potatoes as the NUMBER 1 best food for you.  They have carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber and they taste amazing so it wont be difficult to incorporate these into your diet.
Portabella Burgers with Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato “fries”
Ingredients:

For the burger (adapted from allrecipes.com):
3 large Portobello mushroom caps
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 clove of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Goat cheese
For the fries:
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into fries
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and chili powder to taste (I’m sorry I just always forget to measure spices)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2.  Create marinade for the mushrooms by mixing all ingredients except goat cheese.  Put mushrooms and marinade in a bag and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
3.  Prepare sweet potato fries.  Toss in oil and seasonings and spread out onto a baking sheet/shallow roasting pan.  Don’t crowd the potatoes or they won’t get crispy.  Put them in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning fries after 10.  (Longer for thicker fries)
4.  Heat up grill/george foreman/grill pan.
5.  Grill for about 5 minutes on each side.  Add goat cheese and grill for another 2 minutes.
6.  Assemble your burgers, and pull out those fries and enjoy!

Apr 182010
 
If I had to choose one genre of food to eat for the rest of my life, it would undoubtedly be Mexican.  I put salsa on just about everything and I’m not ashamed to eat guacamole with a spoon.  Before the existence of this blog, whenever I craved Mexican flavors I would just make some basic chicken fajitas or turkey taco salad.  Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but now it’s time to step up my game.  I decided it was time to gourmet-up my Mexican addiction and add something different to my repetoire.  And hence, this incredible and beautiful Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa.


Although it looks restaurant quality, this recipe was surprisingly easy to make.  First step was to make the mango salsa (which you could do day of or day before).  All that goes in it is a mango, some fresh red pepper, onion, jalepeno, cilantro, and lime juice.  Choosing a good mango here is key.  They should be soft to the touch but not tooo mushy.  I hit the mango jackpot with the one I got this time.


Then you can move on to the fish.  I made a spice mixture of chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper.  If I made it again I would have added some cayenne pepper too because I would have liked it a bit spicier. 


Squeeze a little lime juice over the fish and drizzle on a little olive oil.  Then mix the seasonings and sprinkle/rub it on the fish.  Then it’s time to cook the fish.  I got a little side tracked and forgot to take a picture of the cooking process, ooops.  Heat a skillet over medium/high heat and put the fish top down.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes and then flip over and cook for another 4 minutes.   It’s done when it flakes at the thickest point.  


And that’s all it takes!  Totally doable for the amateur or experienced chef.  I served the fish over some simple black beans and along with some asparagus.  Make this and impress your guests…I know I did!!

Nutritional Highlights:  Mangos are high in antioxidants (cancer fighters), iron (prevents anemia), and Vitamin A and E (heart disease fighters).  I also just read that they help relieved clogged pores.  I don’t know if I believe it, but I won’t fight it.  Mangos are also higher in calories/carbs than a lot of other fruits so you shouldn’t go mango crazy necessarily…but they’re incredibly healthy in moderation.  The Mahi Mahi is a very lean, low calorie protein that provides Selenium (antioxidant), Niacin (lowers cholesterol!), and Vitamin B6 (essential amino acid).  


Spicy Mahi Mahi with Fresh Mango Salsa:

Ingredients:

For the fish-
4 Six ounce Mahi Mahi Filets
1/8 teaspoon each: Garlic Powder, Oregano, Cumin, Salt, and Pepper (half black, half cayenne) 
1/4 teaspoon of Chili Powder
1/2 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Mango Salsa-
1 Mango, diced
1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup fresh red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion (I used less because I had a non onion lover over)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 lime, juiced

Directions:

1.  For the Mango Salsa, simply mix all ingredients and let salsa sit at least 30 min for flavors to mingle
2.  For the fish, mix chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and peppers
3.  Squeeze fresh lime juice over the fish and drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil.  This will cut the “fishiness” and give the seasonings something to stick to.
4.  Rub the mixture over the mahi mahi filets
5.  Heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium/high heat…like a 7/10.
6.  Place fish in the pan, top down and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Flip filets and cook for another 4 minutes or until it flakes in the thickest part.  
7.  Top with the mango salsa and serve!
Apr 142010
 

I’ve realized recently, that while it’s pretty easy to come up with healthy and delicious meal ideas, snacks are a whole other animal. I know when I think of “healthy snacks”, my mind goes to an apple, or some carrot sticks. But sometimes those things just don’t cut it. Around 4 pm every day at work, I find myself craving something salty and crunchy, and instead of perusing the many heavily processed and overpriced choices available in our vending machine, I decided to make these little bad boys.

This healthy snack is incredibly easy to make. First you drain a can of chickpeas. Then you bake those in the oven so they start to dry out and get crunchy.

After about 20 minutes you pull them out and toss them in a bit of olive oil and seasoning. I used salt and chili powder because I like mine with a kick. You could do plain old salt if you’re a purist or maybe cinnamon and sugar if you have a sweet tooth. You spread these back on the pan to cook for about 10 more minutes or until they’re crunchy.

Nutritional highlights: Chickpeas are amazingggg for you. They’re a great source of protein, zinc, and folate. They also have a lot of dietary fiber and we all know what that’s good for. This little snack is way lower in fat than anything you can find in that vending machine and provides a lot of nutritional value because it’s all natural. If you’re good at portion control, you can keep the container of these in your desk. If you’re like me and that’s not your forte, split them up into 4 or 5 little baggies for on the go snacks. Enjoy!!!

Roasted Chickpeas:Ingredients:
– One can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans (same thing) rinsed and drained
– 1 teaspoon olive oil
– Seasonings of your choice! (Some ideas: Salt and chili powder; salt, cumin, and cayenne; or a little brown sugar and cinnamon)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Pour chickpeas onto baking sheet (with edges) and bake for 20 minutes, shaking pan halfway through so they don’t burn
3. Take them out and toss with the olive oil and seasoning.
4. Return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, shaking pan occasionally, until crunchy.

Apr 082010
 

As much as I love making healthy food, I’d be lying if I said that all “healthified” recipes are as good as the original. Tofu is just not the same as chicken, a chocolate chip cookie CANNOT be made without butter, and fat free cheese does not hold a candle to the good full fat stuff (mmmmm, brie). But, this recipe for whole wheat pasta with Turkey meatballs is just as good as traditional spaghetti and meatballs. I would not lie to you.


The great thing about this recipe is I usually have almost all the ingredients in my pantry already, so this is one of my go to week night recipes. All you do is mix all the ingredients in a bowl and then, if you’re hardcore like me, you just stick your hands in and start forming the balls. Trick of the trade–pour a little olive oil on your hands before ball forming…it keeps the meat from sticking to your hands and moisturizes at the same time.To get the best results, I bake them in the oven for 5 minutes on each side so they get nice and brown. I then put how ever many I plan to eat that night in a pan covered in pasta sauce to cook the rest of the way. I put the extra meatballs in a baggy in the freezer as a great surprise to be found months later!

I let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. At the same time, I boil up some whole wheat pasta (I like rigatoni). Now, did you know that an appropriate “serving size” of pasta is only 1/2 of a cup!!? Now that seems kind of ridiculous. But, I make it a little easier by sauteing some vegetables to mix in with the pasta. That way you eat less pasta but you still feel like you’re eating a full bowl full of deliciousness.Nutritional highlights: Turkey, as long as you get the lean white meat kinds, is a great alternative to ground beef. It is still an incredible source of protein (one 4 oz serving…which is less than most of us will eat…gives you 60% of the protein you need in a day). It also saves a lot of fat and calories without losing much flavor. This yummy italian feast is one of the most complete meals you can find: whole grains, vegetables, meat, dairy, and uh, fruit (tomatoes??). It’s a nutritious way to satisfy your cravings for a hearty bowl o pasta. And it’s SO good.
Awesome Turkey Meatballs
Ingredients:
– 1 pound lean ground turkey
– 1/2 cup italian seasoned bread crumbs OR 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs with 1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning added
– 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
– 1 teaspoon dried parsley
– 1 clove of garlic, minced
– 1/3 cup skim milk
– 1 egg
– salt and pepper to taste
Other things you may need: pasta sauce, whole wheat pasta, and veggies of you choice, fresh basil for garnish

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients
3. Pour some olive oil on your hands and start forming the balls. The olive oil will keep them from sticking to your hands and will also help the browning process so make sure they get some oil on the outside.
4. Arrange meatballs on a baking sheet covered in tin foil. One pound of turkey should make about 12-15 meatballs depending on how big you like them.
5. Put meatballs in the oven. Wait 5 minutes. Take them out and turn over using tongs. Put them back in for another 5.
6. Store any meatballs you wont be using in the freezer. Put tonight’s meatballs in a pan and pour pasta sauce over. Heat on medium low so the sauce simmers. Continue for about 10 minutes.
7. Serve over pasta and vegetables, sprinkle with fresh basil and parmesan and enjoy!!
Apr 052010
 

The weather in New York over the the past few days has been unreal. Layout on the roof, frolic through central park, smile for no reason kind of weather. And when the weather starts to change, I find myself craving fresh, springy food. So tonight, even though I knew I was going to be eating solo, I decided to make a delicious, light and fresh salmon packet.


This recipe is super easy and can be made for just one or for a dinner party of 10. I started by marinading the salmon in a simple white wine, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper mixture.

I topped the salmon with some fresh thyme sprigs which add a great lemony freshness. Basil would work great in this recipe too if you don’t have thyme. But try to get some thyme…you won’t regret it.

After about 15 minutes of salmon soaking and oven preheating, I assembled my packets. Place the piece of salmon in the center of a piece of foil. Pour over sauce, sprinkle with thyme, and top with 2 thin lemon slices. I threw in some fresh cherry tomatoes because I had them but it would be just as tasty tomato-free.

Roll up the tin-foil so it makes a packet where those delicious wine, lemon, thyme and garlic flavors can mingle while they cook. I cooked it for 15 minutes with the packet closed and 5 open at the end (I like my salmon cooked through completely so subtract a few minutes if you like it more rare). I like to serve them right in the foil packets because it looks rustic and fresh.

Nutritional highlights: You all have probably heard that salmon is one of the best sources of “omega-3 fatty acids”, but why is that so important?? Our bodies don’t produce omega-3’s on their own so we must get them from food. Omega-3’s have been said to reduce risk of heart disease and some cancers, lower triglycerides, and help prevent high blood pressure and strokes. Basically it’s a superfood and you should eat it. Out of a tin foil packet. Because it’s delicious and really easy.

Lemon White Wine Salmon Packets

Ingredients:

2- 6 oz salmon filets
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 thin slices fresh lemon
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
10 cherry tomatoes (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400
1. Season salmon with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.
2. Pour over white wine and lemon juice. Sprinkle on garlic and leaves from 2 of the thyme sprigs. Let marinate for 15 minutes.
3. Assemble your packets. Lay out a piece of tin foil per piece of fish. Place fish in the center and pour excess marinade over. Lay 2 lemon slices on the salmon and top with 2 thyme sprigs each. Garnish with cherry tomatoes if desired.
4. Wrap up your packets and bake for 12-15 minutes (depending on doneness preference). Open packets and cook for 5 more minutes or until fish flakes to your liking.
5. Simply remove from oven and serve!