Friday, January 29, 2010

Lunch Break...Quick & Easy (of course!)

Like many my lunch breaks seem to involve work (not much of a "break").  With that said, I continue my quest for quick and easy lunch ideas.  Lunch time is one of the areas I encourage my clients to increase their vegetable intake, and for me that can even be a challenge.  Today's lunch was fabulous, under 10 minutes, and super nutritious!  I hope you give it a try!

1 pita bread
2 Tbsp hummus (I used the Trader Joe's Greek Style with lemon & herbs--delicious)
1/4 cup baby cilantro (you can try basil, parsley, or baby lettuce--your choice!!)
2 Tbsp 2% cheddar
1 small tomato, thinly sliced
1 box of Green Giant's Immunity Blend Veggies

Fruit Smoothie
1 cup cherries (frozen)
1 banana
1 1/2 cups fresh limeade (I just juiced 2 limes and added water--no sugar)

Prepare sandwich--heat bread, top with cheese on one side, spread hummus on opposite side.  Stack with herbs and tomatoes.  Serve (2 minutes)
Microwave your veggie bag--4 minutes
Meanwhile, throw your fruit in a blender and mix for 2 minutes.

Yep, really that simple and truly a tongue pleaser!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Slow Cooking Monday & Delicious Cookies!

This is a quickie, because it's late and honestly these aren't my recipes.  :) Today, I threw together jambalaya in my crockpot (the house smells wonderful now), whipped up Marie Callender's Cornbread (so simple and tasty why fuss with making it from scratch?), and these fabulous Orange Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies (with some minor adjustments).  My fellow Foodie Dietitian and great friend, Katie Clark came over to enjoy the meal with me!  She is the one who has the great blog Fiber is the Future. If you have questions about fiber check out her fabulous blog!

So, on with the recipes!  First, I made Emeril's Jambalaya recipe.
Here are my changes:

  1. I used the crockpot!  I cooked the chicken fast on the stove top and then cubed it into the crockpot and layered the ingredients).
  2. Chicken andoiulle sausage is the way to go! Far less fat!
  3. I did not use oil, nor did I saute my veggies to begin with--I put everything in the crockpot and turned the thing on!  Magic happens people!  ;o)
  4. Add in the shrimp for the last 15 minutes of cooking (I used a bag of frozen shrimp from Trader Joe's)
  5. I only used 1 cup chicken broth, because in a crock pot you don't need as much liquid.
  6. Serve over brown rice--prepared with remaining chicken broth in place of water!
Okay and now the cookies!!  Wow!  These are lifted from a new food blog I found on Foodgawker.
Orange Cranberry & Choco-Oat Cookies

1 cup of dried cranberries
½ cup orange juice
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup butter, room temp
3 tbls of honey
1 large egg
1 ½ cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
3 cups of oatmeal
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon orange zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small bowl, cover and let stand while you make the cookies. Beat the sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in honey and egg then add the cranberries and orange juice.
Combine flour, soda, powder and salt in a separate bowl and enthusiastically whisk together. Toss in the oatmeal, walnuts and orange zest and whisk some more.
Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and blend together till just right. Drop loving spoonfuls onto lightly oiled baking sheets and bake for about 8-10 minutes, depending the size of your cookies.
Here are my changes:
  1. Added semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1/3 cup
  2. Used orange cranberries (it's what I had on hand)
  3. Switched out the walnuts for pecans, because it's 1) what I had and 2) I really prefer them with these other flavors
  4. Made 3 1/2 dozen and cooked for 10 minutes (I have a convection oven)
  5. Used 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup all purpose (again, it's what I had on hand)
Good news too...I already put 3 dozen in the freezer so I don't nosh on them all week!!  I have to show some restraint.  They really are that good!!!  I hope you try them and comment on them, too!

Do Scallops Scare You?

Scallops scared me for the longest time, until my best friend Kathie and her mom Maria taught me how to prepare them!  Now they are a mainstay in my freezer for those moments I am craving something quick, yet elegant!  Don't be afraid.  I have some tips to help you:

  1. Keep a bag of frozen scallops (I love Trader Joe's brand)
  2. Defrost under COLD RUNNING water (may take about 5 minutes), but please do NOT leave on the counter to defrost
  3. Pat dry, really dry (this is KEY)
  4. Get a pan hot over medium to medium-high heat 
  5. Use a vegetable oil, not butter (yet), but don't put too much--just enough to coat the bottom of a pan
  6. Don't crowd the pan or the oil will drop too much in temperature
  7. Flip only once--be sure that the side is browned enough before you turn the scallop
  8. Don't overcook, they are like shrimp and only take about 3-5 minutes to cook (Fast Food, huh?)
  9. Remove the scallops once cooked and finish the pan off with a pat of butter to make the sauce glisten. Now you're ready!
Asian Inspired Scallop Salad
Serves 2
12 scallops
1/4 cup flour
Salt & Pepper 
2-3 Tbsp oil
Baby Greens
Carrots, grated
Cucumber, diced or sliced

Asian Vinaigrette 
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 inch grated ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • Prepare your salad plates and whisk your vinaigrette ingredients together. 
  • Follow above tips regarding scallop preparation. Pat dry and heat pan.  Season flour with salt & pepper. Toss scallops lightly with flour.  Add 1/2 of the scallops to the heated pan.  Flip in 3 minutes or once a brown crust forms on the bottom.  Once cooked, remove and place on paper towels and begin the next batch. When all are cooked, add in 1 tbsp of butter to pan.  Scrape up brown bits and then add in 2-3 Tbsp of vinaigrette mixture.  Return scallops to pan to toss in sauce.  Serve with salad greens. 
  • Toss lettuce with remaining vinaigrette and serve!  

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Perfect Grilled Cheese & Soup!

  1. Use a non-stick pan
  2. Melt butter in the pan first, then add in your bread.
  3. Top with cheese 
  4. Butter the other side of bread and place on top of cheese
  5. Cook at medium heat--if you cook on high the cheese won't melt before the bread toasts!
  6. Don't smash down the bread.  Allow it to toast and melt before you flip it.
  7. Flip only once.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Still Raining...Stir Fry Time!

Some of you may not believe this, but there are actually days where I don't want to cook. But probably less of a surprise to you the feelings of not cooking don't take me to the nearest drive-thru for a burger.  After teaching culinary arts to students who worked at fast food restaurant permanently curbed my appetite for fast food dining. :) What I do instead is start pulling things out of my vegetable drawer and pile them up for a quick stir fry.
Does a stir fry have to be "Asian" inspired? No. Stir-fry is a quick way of "frying" with little oil at a very high heat. A wok pan is ideal for this technique.  Read more about woks here.  Woks are also very easy to clean--another plus when you are not in the mood to cook.
Tonight, my mixture was this:

Rainy Day Stir Fry
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup broccoli, bite sized florets
1 carrot, sliced
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1/4 cup venison summer sausage (don't cringe or laugh--it's what I have in my fridge!)
1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
2 Tbsp goat cheese
Heat up the oil in a skillet or wok.  When you feel the hit coming off the oil add in your carrots, celery, and broccoli.  Stir.  Add in mushrooms & sausage and stir.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes or until desired tenderness. Add in the spinach, turn off heat, and cover with a lid.  The heat will wilt the spinach enough. Sprinkle with goat cheese and serve.

Basically the vegetable drawer, and thankfully my veggie drawer tastes fabulous! ;)  Happy eating!

PS--when the mood strikes you to order a pizza or head for the drive thru consider the endless options of what you can "throw" together. If it is too much then head out the door or order in.  I have done it, too!  No guilt, no shame--embrace your choice and try to choose healthy whenever you can. I hope I help you  on this journey.

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's Raining Enchiladas

Okay, you got me. It's not, but it is definitely raining and my house has the flavors of enchiladas all throughout! It's a perfect food for a cold, wet day like today.  I am not going to complain about the rain, because we are in desperate need for a good drenching and my garden is begging for it. The 10 inches we are expecting may not be what I had in mind, but it is what it is.
Before the rain began I went out to my garden and harvested more tomatillos.  The little green tomato-like fruit makes me crave Mexican food. I haven't done a big trip to the grocery store lately, so I am merely creating what my pantry allows.  I hope you give it a try, and perhaps are inspired to let your pantry guide you, too.

Chicken Verde Enchiladas
Serves 2-4 people
1 cup salsa
2 large chicken breasts
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1lb tomatillos, husked and chopped
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
Sea Salt, cumin, & pepper to taste
Lime (I used a 1/2 of a lime, but I like things tart--play with it!)
8 Corn Tortillas
1 cup 2% cheddar Cheese
Preheat oven to 400*F. Place chicken in a baking pan and top with salsa. Bake chicken for 20 minutes or until done.
Meanwhile, in a saute pan add oil and onions. Saute onions on medium heat for 5 minutes and then add garlic for 2 minutes. Add chopped tomatillos and cook on medium low for 10 minutes or until becomes sauce-like. Season with cumin, pepper, and salt. Add your lime juice and stir. Chop your chicken into small cubes. Next, set up your assembly area.
Stations: tortilla, chicken, cheese, pan.  In a baking pan, place 1/3 of your sauce on the bottom.  Because this makes a small quantity you don't need a big baking pan. Instead you could use two bread pans. Place chicken on tortilla, top with cheese, and roll up.  Place seam side down in pan.  Repeat.  Pour remaining sauce over the tops of the enchiladas.  Drop your oven temperature to 350*F and bake for 25 minutes. During the last 5 minutes sprinkle with cheddar cheese and continue baking until done.
Next, let's make the side dish--tossed salad.
Simple Tossed Salad
Carrot, use a vegetable peeler to make long strands
2-4 cups lettuce (I prefer baby greens for their tenderness)
1/2 lime, juiced
1 Tbsp olive oil
Garlic powder, salt, & pepper to taste
In a bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil and seasonings. Toss in your greens and carrots. Lightly toss and remove to plate.  Serve with chicken enchiladas and a dollop of guacamole (avocado, lime juice, and salt--pure and simple).  ENJOY!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Quickie for the New Year!

Happy New Year Y'all!  I have been in the mountains with my feet strapped to skis and my head listening to Texas Country Music. Now, I am back and finding my footing on solid ground again. I have to admit, today was tough! I really struggled to get my eyes to stay straight and keep a steady glare at my computer. Alas, I did it, and accomplished some work.

Needless to say, I returned home to an empty kitchen.  I pulled myself away from my work long enough to venture over to Trader Joe's and purchase some yummy food to get me through the week before I make a big grocery trip. Tonight was really easy (but, of course!) I prepared frozen halibut (6 grams of fat for 3 pieces), sauteed spinach, boiled new potatoes, and naan bread. Yum! No secret recipe for this simple dish!


  1. Preheat your oven according to package (400*F for the TJ brand)
  2. Put your potatoes in a pot and bring it to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Drizzle a splash of olive oil in a saute pan.
  4. Place your fish in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes.
  5. About 3 minutes prior to your fish being finished add in the spinach (and perhaps some mushrooms). Saute for a couple minutes or until wilted. Season with salt and serve! 
  6. If desired, toss in your drained potatoes to the spinach mixture.
Yes, that is it! Don't you love 15 minute meals?  Enjoy!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Tomatillo Chicken Over Cous Cous

Currently, my San Diego garden is overflowing with tomatillos.  Did I plant them?  Nope!  They are actually gifts from my compost.  Don't you just love it when that happens?  I do!  My late Aunt Julie was the first to introduce to the concept of composting, and to her I am forever grateful.  Every year when I use the gorgeous black dirt of my compost to start my garden I begin to see the gifts of my labor.  I always observe anxiously to see what the seedlings turn into.  Very exciting I know! ;o) But, I do enjoy it.  So, today I share with you my Tomatillo Chicken Recipe.  Enjoy!

1 1/2 lbs tomatillos, husks removed and chopped roughly
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 lime, juiced
2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 cup dried Cous Cous

First, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil for 3 minutes. Next, add in tomatillos and sauté for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook chicken in a non-stick skillet sprayed with cooking spray.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside. To the tomatillo mixture add in the chopped cilantro and season with salt.  With a blending stick or in a food processor blend until mixture is smooth.  In a saucepan, cook cous cous according to package directions (generally a 1 cup to 1 cup ratio).  You can either cook the cous cous in water or chicken broth. Squeeze lime juice into the tomatillo salsa and serve over chicken and cous cous, quinoa, or brown rice. 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

After the Holiday Chaos...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all (y'all)!  ;o)  I have been out and about enjoying the festivities and chaos!  I spent Christmas in Mexico with my best friend and her family.  We enjoyed a feast with Persian and Mexican influences! Definitely not a traditional American Christmas dinner, but absolutely delicious!
Persian Rice

 Roasted Lamb

 Pomegranate Salad

 Pineapple Upside Down Cake

 Mexican Bread Pudding
 My view from my room on Christmas Eve

 What I woke up to Christmas morning!

I am off again for another trip, but once I return I'll be back in full swing!  Happy New Year!