Jan 272012
 
Do you know what day of the year American’s consume the most calories? Thanksgiving? Nope. Christmas? Ho ho NO.  It’s actually Super Bowl Sunday.  The holiday celebrating beer, junk food, and big dudes tackling each other.  These baked sweet potato skins are a great addition to your junk food spread and can even be considered semi healthy! 

Potato skins really aren’t that hard to make at home (although they do require a little bit of time).  You start by halving the potatoes and baking.  You then scoop out most of the potato, leaving the skins with just a little bit of the potato.  Then you bake each side a little bit more so they get slightly crisp.  Fill with whatever toppings you like and enjoy!  This time I used gruyere and pancetta to make them a lil fancy, but next time I might try pepper jack and guacamole, or low-fat cheddar and turkey bacon.  The possibilities are endless! 


Nutritional Highlights: When compared to the greasy chicken wings and cheesy pizza, these potato skins don’t look so bad.  You get fiber, vitamins, and carbs that will help fill you up so you don’t overdo it on the other junk.  The gruyere and pancetta are definitely not the healthiest, but hey, it’s the superbowl.  And like I said before, you can make these even healthier by choosing low fat cheese, veggie toppings, or turkey bacon.




Sweet Potato Skins with Gruyere and Pancetta
makes 10 skins
5 small sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces gruyere, grated (or sub low fat cheddar, mozzarella, any cheese you like!)
4 slices of pancetta, chopped and sauteed until slightly crisp (or sub crumbled turkey bacon)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream
sea salt
Preheat oven to 400.
Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and bake cut side up for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out sweet potato flesh, leaving just a little bit in the skin. Discard the flesh (or better, save for mashed sweet potatoes or sweet potato falafel).
Flip skins over so skin side is up. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, then bake for 10 minutes. Flip, brush insides with olive oil, and bake for 10 more minutes.
Remove skins and place a sprinkling of cheese in each, topping with the crisp pancetta. Place back in the oven for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Remove and top with green onions and greek yogurt or sour cream.  Enjoy!
Jan 182012
 

I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to show off my new skill, and I think now’s the time.  Only a few months ago, I poached my very first egg.  For some reason, it had seemed to me like a tough thing that only restaurants could do, but then in my food science class I learned how anyone can perfectly poach an egg in less than 2 minutes.  Instead of the usual eggs benedict, which can be really heavy from the hollandaise, I put my poached egg on a flavorful, crispy quinoa cake.  Say hello to my new favorite brunch dish.




Nutritional highlights: For some of you, you look at that runny yolk and think “yum!”.  For others, (and I used to be one of them) you think it’s terrifying.  But egg yolks are not something we have to be afraid of.  A whole egg only has about 70 calories and a lot of the great nutrients are found in the yolk.   And yes, there is cholesterol, but a number of studies have shown that the dietary cholesterol in eggs doesn’t necessarily translate to an increase in blood cholesterol levels.  I think the real health issue with eggs is when you get an omelette in a restaurant that is swimming in butter.  That’s why poaching is so great–no added fat.  Served over these quinoa cakes gives you even more protein to keep you full all day.


Quinoa Cakes with Poached Eggs
adapted from Annie Eats




INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup dry quinoa (or 2 cups cooked)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh chives, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • Olive oil, for frying patties
  • Greens to serve over like arugula or spinach
  • Shaved Parmesan
  • 6 poached eggs (one for each patty)
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions:
First cook the quinoa.  Add 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water or broth to a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer and cover for 10-15 minutes.  Let quinoa cool.

In a large bowl, add shallots, garlic, chives, 2 eggs, salt, pepper, parmesan, and quinoa.  Mix in flour until combined.  Form 6 patties.  Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Cook patties in 2 or 3 batches, for about 3-4 minutes per side or until brown.  

Poach your eggs.  Heat water in a small sauce pan to a gentle simmer.  Add a capful of vinegar (the acid will help the eggs keep  a nice shape).  Create a vortex by stirring quickly for a few second.  Add the egg and let cook for about 1 minute and 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the egg and place on top of your quinoa cake.  I served mine with a little spicy harissa for a peppery kick.  Top with chives and shaved parmesan and enjoy!  



Jan 122012
 

It’s January 11th and still no snow (with the exception of that little Halloween teaser).  Usually, when the snow comes, I start making soup and stocking my freezer for winter hibernation.  Not that I want it to start snowing, but I realized today that I was ready for the warm comforting soups that come along with winter.  This is a hearty white chicken chili, a recipe that will definitely stay in my rotation from now on.  





Usually when I make soup, I’m chopping for hours…carrots, onions, celery, garlic, etc, etc.  But this recipe was so easy and was done in less than an hour.  It starts with sauteed onions, then garlic and spices, then canned beans, chiles, and chicken broth, a jar of salsa, and some diced chicken.  I know, there are a lot of cans and jars involved here, but sometimes short cuts are OK, especially when they taste this good.  





Nutritional Highlights:  You take a bite of this soup and assume there’s cream in it because it’s so thick and, well, creamy.  But that comes from the pureed beans, which add fiber and protein, not fat like a cream based soup.  It’s a hearty soup, and will keep you warm and full all day.  


White Chicken Chili
adapted from Burnt Carrots


Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts (or you could shred a rotisserie chicken if you don’t have time to cook the chicken)
  • 4 cans of great northern beans (low sodium if possible)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8-10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans diced green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 jar salsa (I used medium heat)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • Low sodium chicken stock, as needed 
  • Optional garnishes: shredded cheese, avocado, cilantro, red onion, etc…
Directions:
First, poach the chicken breasts.  Place them in the bottom of a large pot in a single layer, and cover with water by about half and inch.  Bring water to a boil and reduce to a very low simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove chicken from water and set aside.  Once cool, dice chicken breast into small pieces. (You can also use any sort of leftover chicken you have, rotisserie chicken, or already cooked chicken that you can buy to skip this step).

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add chopped onions and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes.  While the onion is sweating, blend 3 of the cans of beans (without draining off bean liquid) until smooth.  Add the garlic, spices, and canned chiles to the onion in the pot and cook for 1 minute.  Then add the pureed beans, the 4th can of whole beans, the jar of salsa, the corn and the diced chicken.  Add chicken broth so the soup is your desired thickness.  Let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes, top with cheese and other garnishes and enjoy!
Jan 052012
 

If you told my 9 year-old self that in 15 years she would like, dare I say LOVE, broccoli, she would probably say you were crazy.  I always hated broccoli.  So much so that my sister Jenna and I had an unspoken deal–any night we were served green beans (her least favorite) she would stealthily pass them to me under the table, and any night there was broccoli, she would sneakily eat mine.  But with this roasted broccoli there would be no deal, because it’s that good…for broccoli lovers and loathers alike.  So if your new years resolution is to eat your veggies, this would be a great place to start.






I can honestly say this is the best broccoli preparation I’ve tried yet.  So good that I made it for Christmas dinner at my house and it was a big hit.  By roasting the broccoli, you get some nice charred edges while maintaining the color and texture of the veggie.  The combination of garlic, olive oil, lemon zest and juice just can’t be beat.  Add the warm nutty flavor of toasted pine nuts and the salty melty goodness of the parmesan and there you have it.  Also, check out my awesome new mini collander below.  Thanks Santa!!






Nutritional Highlights:  Believe it or not, I think this is the first cook tush recipe in which broccoli is the star.  Sure, I’ve thrown it in a stir fry here or there, but I don’t think I’ve ever really showcased the broccoli itself.  Well now is the time.  It’s not a coincidence that there are tons of research articles focused on the health benefits of broccoli, whether it be for cancer prevention, digestion, or heart disease.  It’s also packed with Vitamin C and K, and is also a great source of folate, dietary fiber, and many B vitamins.  Sure, I’m adding a little fat in this recipe via the olive oil, parmesan, and pine nuts, but I’m also adding TONS of flavor.  This recipe is perfect for a dinner party or just for an any night party in your mouth. 





Lemon-Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients
  • 4 to 5 pounds broccoli
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (I did this in the toaster on tin foil while watching closely)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves)
Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.
Remove the broccoli rom the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.