Monday, November 23, 2009

Great Soup Recipe!

This is from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry by Janet and Greta Podleski. Don't be discouraged by the length of this recipe. It doesn't take very long to make this great soup, and it's really worth the effort.

Rome on the Range
Roasted tomato and red pepper soup with mini meatballs

8 large plum or Roma tomatoes (about 2 lbs/907 g)
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp each minced fresh thyme and fresh rosemary (or 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning)
2 cups beef broth, divided
1 cup V8 juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (or 2 tsp dried)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp each salt, freshly ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes

12 oz (340 g) extra-lean ground beef
1/4 cup minced shallots or onions
1/4 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450F. Coarsely chop tomatoes and combne with red peppers, onion, garlic, olive oil, thyme and rosemary in a very large roasting pan or on a very large rimmed baking sheet. It's best if vegetables are in a single layer.

Place roasting pan in oven on middle rack and roast vegetables for 15 mins. Remove vegetablese from oven and give them a quick stir. Return pan to oven on middle rack and turn on the broiler. Broil vegetables for 10 mins.

Meanwhile, prepare meatballs. Combine all meatball ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Using your hands works best! Form 48 mini meatballs using 1 tsp or so of meat mixture per ball. Set aside.

Remove vegetables from oven. Transfer half the vegetables to a blender or food processor, along with 1 cup of beef broth, and puree until smooth. Transfer pureed vegetables to a large soup pot. Chop remaining vegetables into bite-sized pieces (if any tomato or pepper skins come loose, discard them) and add to pot, along with remaining beef broth, V8 juice, basil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring soup to a boil. Add meatballs. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through. Taste soup and add more salt and pepper if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: calories, 184; total fat, 7.8g; saturated fat, 3.3g; protein, 15g; carbs, 16g; fiber, 2.9g; cholesterol, 64mg; sodium, 440mg

THE VERDICT: Hubby and I both really liked it. Serving it to Miss Muffet for lunch, and will report back with her findings :)

Update: Little Miss (2 years old) loved this soup! Definitely a keeper. Make this one!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Squash-tastic Shepherd's Pie

I've recently become a tad obsessed with Hungry Girl. Not heard of her? Well, crawl out from under your rock and listen up: She's great! Her cookbooks and website are full of interesting, healthy, low-fat recipes....and they all contain the Weight Watchers points you'll need to know if you're counting that sort of thing.

One caveat: HG recipes do tend toward some ingredients I wouldn't use, like artificial sweeteners, but you can swap in real sugar or, in many cases, leave it out entirely. This was my first day cooking her recipes, and I have to say I can't wait to make more!

This was dinner tonight:

Squash-tastic Shepherd's Pie (from HG's Hungry Girl cookbook, page 278)

  • 3 1/2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 lb raw extra-lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • dash of garlic powder
  • dash of onion powder
  • dash of black pepper
  • 3/4 cup fat-free gravy
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen mixed veggies
  • 1 tbsp light whipped butter or light buttery spread
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the squash in a large microwave-safe dish with 1/2 cup of water. Cover bowl and cook squash in the microwave for 12 to 14 minutes, until squash is soft.
Meanwhile, in a medium pan over medium heat, cook onions until slightly browned (2 to 3 minutes).
Add the turkey, minced garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper to the pan. Stir well. Cook until meat is browned.
Drain any excess liquid from the pan. Place meat/onion mixture in a casserole dish. Pour gravy evenly over the mixture. Spread the mixed veggies on top and then set dish aside.
Once squash is cooked, drain excess water and mash well. Add butter and salt to the squash and then mix thoroughly. Layer the mashed squash on top of the veggie layer. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes (until crust looks slightly crispy).
This was YUMMY! Filling, tasty, healthy and family friendly. Can't wait for the leftovers tomorrow night.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stuffed Pork Chops

Did you see that several supermarkets have pork roasts on sale this week? Mom & I picked up 6 roasts for $1.89 and $1.99 per pound at Metro and spent today cooking. I hope you enjoy the 6 recipes I am posting: Dijon Pork Chops, Sweet-n-Sout Pork, Pork Rice Skillet Bake, Herbed Pork Chops, Provencale Pork, and Stuffed Pork Chops. I did a lot of cutting to turn the roasts into dozens of pork chops and Mom chopped and stirred and packed like crazy. We knew we'd done a good job when my nephew (her grandson), Scott, walked in after school and you could see his eyes glaze over as he smelled the aromas coming from the stove and oven. He went home with a stuffed pork chop, scalloped potatoes and Provencale Pork. I have since heard that he really enjoyed his supper . . . LOL.

On the subject of the cookbook we used today, "Frozen Assets Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor-Hough, I have to say I love this book . . . perhaps a little too much. It is now covered in olive oil and white wine and who knows what else. Don't worry Pam D., you will be getting a brand new copy of this book . . . LOL . . . On the down side, the editor or proofreader of this book needs to be fired. I have found several mistakes that have been a little frustrating like ingredients missing from the shopping list or extras added that aren't needed and sometimes the recipes have things out of order. But that's okay because the recipe results make up for most shortcomings.

6 servings

6 thick-cut pork chops (about 1-inch thick)
1/2 cup wild rice mix
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup sherry
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 teaspoons pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
1-1/2 cups fat-free beef broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Cook wild rice mixture according to package directions, substituting 1/3 cup sherry for 1/3 cup water in directions. Heat butter in skillet; stir in mushroom slices and onions, cook until softened. Remove from heat. Stir 1/2 mushrooms into wild rice mixture. Slice a pocket in each chop. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons wild rice/mushroom mixture into each chop. Close with toothpicks. Rub pepper and paprika into chops. Broil chops on broiler rack 5-inches from the heat for 15 minutes (turning halfway through). To make sauce, in saucepan stir together broth and cornstarch. Add remaining sauteed mushrooms; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Stir in 1 tablespoon sherry.

In my opinion: Well a few things didn't go quite right with this recipe. We were using pork roasts and slicing into pork chop sized pieces. Unfortunately pork-roast-style chops don't always lend themselves to having pockets sliced into them. And we also didn't have a package of wild rice mix so we used a rice vegetable mix and just followed the package directions. Since the pockets were not very big we just stuffed with rice (no mushrooms) and used all of the mushrooms in the sauce. Now after all that I have to say the chops and sauce turned out gorgeous and were enjoyed by my nephew, Scott. Also, we used cremini mushrooms, because they are firmer and more flavourful than white mushrooms.

Recipe from "Frozen Assets Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor-Hough.

Le dîner est servi . . .

Provencale Pork

6 servings

2 pounds boneless pork chops, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1/4 cup butter
2 medium onions, sliced
1 (15-oz.) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1-1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Trim excess fat off pork chops; slice into thin strips. In large skillet over medium heat, melt half the butter. Add slices of pork; cook, stirring constantly, until no longer pink. Remove meat from skillet; set aside. Stir onions into juices remaining in pan; cook until just tender. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and mixed herbs to pan. Heat to boil; reduce heat; simmer about 5 minutes. In casserold dish, layer pork, sauce and potatoes (end with potato layer). Brush top of potatoes with melted butter; sprinkle with parsley. Cover casserole dish with a lid and bake at 350F for 1 hour.

In my opinion: Beautiful!! While we were at it, Mom sliced up some extra potatoes and onions and made scalloped potatoes.

Recipe from "Frozen Assets Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor Hough.

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Herbed Pork Chops

6 servings

1/3 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons fennel, crushed
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons basil
6 pork chops

Combine together in a small bowl: wine, fennel, marjoram, basil, salt and garlic: blend well. Set aside. Spray large skillet with cooking spray. Cook pork chops over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Turn chops, add wine mixture. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until pork is no longer pink.

In my opinion: This recipe was elegant, aromatic, attractive and so quick and easy!!!!! The aroma from the wine and the fennel were absolutely fabulous!!!!!

This recipe from "Frozen Assest Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor Hough.

Le dîner est servi . . .

Pork Rice Skillet Bake

6 servings

6 pork chops
1 package brown and wild rice mushroom mix
2 cups water
1 large tomato, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Spray large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over high heat; place chops in skillet; cook 2 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove from heat. Remove pork chops from skillet; set aside. In a casserole dish, stir together drippings from browning pork chops, the wild rice mix and 2 cups water. Arrange slices of tomato and onion in a single layer over rice mixture. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup parsley. Arrange pork chops over top. Cover. Bake in 350 F oven for 40-50 minutes, or until pork is no longer pink in centre and rice is cooked.

In my opinion: We put the parsley on top of the pork chops because it was prettier. This recipe is quite simple, and looks and smells wonderful.

Recipe is from "Frozen Assets Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor Hough.

Le dîner est servi . . .

Sweet-n-Sour Pork

6 servings

3/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons catsup
1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 egg, beaten
6 boneless pork chops, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, cut into thin wedges
1 large gree pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large tomato, cut into wedges
2 cups canned pineapple chunks, drained
1 cup water

In a medium-sized bowl, combine 1/4 cup cornstarch and the vinegar. Stir in 1 cup water, sugar, catsup, soy sauce and cayenne; set aside. In small bowl, beat egg. In separate bowl, place remaining cornstarch. Dip pork chunks in egg; then dip into cornstarch. Over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil in large skillet. Add meat to hot oil and saute until golden brown on the outside and no longer pink inside (stirring contantly); remove meat from pat using a slotted spoon. Add onion, green pepper, garlic and 2 tablespoons water to pan; saute for 1 minute. Stir sweet-n-sour sauce into pan with vegetables. Cook stirring constantly until sauce boils and thickens. Remove from heat. Add tomato and pineapple.

In my opinion: This recipe is very easy to make and looks and smells wonderful. Hal had a bowlful for his lunch and really enjoyed it. I did cheat a bit when making it. We were making a double batch and it was taking forever to dip each piece of pork so I poured the egg into the bowl of cubed pork and tossed it well. Then I added the cornstarch and tossed the pork until it was all well coated.

This recipe from "Frozen Assets Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor-Hough.
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Dijon Pork Chops

6 servings

1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 pork chops
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

In pie plate, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, oil and pepper. Mix well. Set aside. Spread both sides of pork chops with mustard; press chops into bread crumb mixture, coating both sides. Spray rack in broiler pan with cooking spray, arrange chops on rack; broil 5-6 inches from element until cooked (5-6 minutes on each side).

In my opinion: These chops are so simple and the aroma . . . fabulous!!!!!

Recipe from "Frozen Assets Lite & Easy" by Deborah Taylor-Hough.

Le dîner est servi . . .

Monday, November 2, 2009

Need a special dish for a pot luck?? Check this out . . .

I haven't woken up Taylor from his nap to taste test this one yet. I think it tastes really really good. It looks pretty good too. And it was quite simple to make.

Tortilla Casserole
6 servings
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 (15-oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (4.5-oz.) can chopped green chilies
1 package taco seasoning mix
6 corn tortillas
3/4 cup nonfat sour cream
4 oz (1 cup) grated mozzarella or cheddar cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Heat oven to 350 F. Spray nonstick skillet with non-stick cooking spray. heat over high heat until hot. Add ground beef; brown 8-10 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, stirring constantly. Drain well; return beef to skillet. Add beans, tomatoes, chilies and taco seasoning mix; mix well. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, spray 12 x 8 (2-quart) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut each tortilla in half; place 6 halves in bottom of sprayed baking dish, overlapping slightly. Spoon half of beef mixture evenly over tortillas. Spoon sour cream over beef mixture; spread evenly. Top with remaining 6 tortilla halves and remaining beef mixture. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle with cheese. Cover; let stand 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Per serving: 324.9 calories; 10.8 g fat; 23.8 g protein; 34.2 g carbohydrates; 45 mg cholesterol.
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Macaroni and Beef

Taylor and I really enjoyed taste-testing this recipe. I used Unico Scoobi Doo macaroni for a little extra excitement. And it is soooooo simple to make.

Macaroni and Beef

6 servings

6 oz elbow macaroni, cooked
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
4 oz (1 cup) reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, grated

(I substituted 1/4 cup of homemade pesto for the basil)

In large skillet, brown ground beef, onion and bell pepper until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are softened. Add tomato sauce, basil, thyme and pepper, Stir frequently over medium heat until heated through. Remove from heat. Add macaroni; stir to combine. Sprinkle cheese over top.

Per Serving: 292.2 calories; 10.3 g fat; 21.3 g protein; 28.3 g carbohydrates; 43 mg cholesterol

Le dîner est servi . . .

Pizza Burgers

These burgers didn't make it into the freezer . . . they were lunch . . . and very yummy!!!!!

Pizza Burgers

Serves 6

1 pound extra-lean ground beef (I think I would have liked bigger burgers so maybe 1-1/2 pounds of ground beef would be better)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup muchrooms, thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter
4 oz (1 cup) fat free mozzarella cheese, grated
1 tbsp parsley
6 hamburger buns

In skillet over medium-high heat, saute mushroom slices in butter. Remove from heat. In large bowl combine beef, salt, pepper and oregano. Form beef mixutre into six equal patties. Cook patties in non-stick skillet for 3 minutes (or until cooked through). Spread each patty with 1 tbsp tomato sauce and 1 tbsp mushrooms. Divide cheese evenly between patties. Serve sprinkled with parsley in hamburger buns.

Per serving: 217.1 calories; 13.1 g fat; 21.0 g protein; 3.5 g carbohydrates; 56 mg cholesterol

Le dîner est servi . . .

Beef Loaf

Beef Loaf

8 servings

2 cups onion, chopped
2 cups carrots, shredded
2 cups zucchini, shredded
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
4 tbsp skim milk
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage

Spray medium skillet with cooking spray. Heat and add onions. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until golden brown. Add carrot, zucchini and garlic, stirring contantly until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat. Set aside. In small bowl, combine bread and milk. Let stand five minutes. In large bowl, combine beef, eggs, parsley, salt, pepper, thyme, sage, cooled vegetables and soaked bread. Shape into loaf. Place into centre of 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Per serving: 206.4 calories; 10.3 g fat; 13.7 g protein; 15.1 g carbohydrates; 105 mg cholesterol.

This was very simple to make, smells wonderful, and tastes good too. I did make one substitution. There is a typo in the recipe book's shopping list so I did not have the zucchini for this recipe. So I went through the freezer looking for something green and vegetable-like . . . peas. I think it worked out just fine.

Le dîner est servi . . .

Meatballs and Sauce

Remember the good ol' days when ground meat was cheap??

This morning I began the "Ground Beef Mini-Session" from Frozen Assets Lite & Easy by Deborah Taylor-Hough: Meatballs and Sauce, Beef Loaf, Pizza Burgers, Macaroni and Beef, and Tortilla Casserole. My son, Tim, and grandson, Taylor, have been my taste testers today. All the meals have been well received so far. Taylor wanted to take a nap, but he has requested a wake up call when the Tortilla Casserole comes out of the oven so he can taste test it as well . . . LOL.

Meatballs and Sauce

Serves 6

1 cup dry bread crumbs
3/4 cup skim milk
2 pounds extra lean ground beef
1-1/2 cup grated zucchini
3/4 cup apple juice (or white wine)
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp oregano
32-0z. canned crushed tomatoes
1 cup water.

Mix bread crumbs and milk. Let stand 5 minutes. Add beef, zucchini, 2 tbsp apple juice, cheese, tomato paste and 1 tsp oregano. Mix well. Form into 36 equal meatballs. Spray large skillet with nonstick cooking spray; heat. Add meatballs, cook over medium-high heat, turning as needed, until browned on all sides (about 10 minutes). Remove meatballs from skillet; set aside. In same skillet, cook remaining apple juice over medium-high heat, scraping brown bits from bottom of skillet. Add tomatoes, remaining oregano and water. Reduce heat to low; add meatballs. Simmer, covered, 30-40 minutes until meatballs are cooked through.

Per serving: 270.8 calories; 11.5 g fat; 15.8 g protein; 26.8 g carbohydrates; 40 mg cholesterol


Le dîner est servi . . .