Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chicken and Spinach Lasagna Rolls with Tomato Alfredo Sauce

I've been seeing these lasagna rolls everywhere lately, and decided it was about time for me to give them a try. I wanted to forego the traditional lasagna flavors and decided to kick it up a notch with some leftover Cornish game hen meat, red bell pepper and some spinach (shhh, don't tell Cal). So, I took some ricotta cheese, grated up a bit of Asiago that we had in our cheese drawer, chopped a handful of spinach, and threw in a bit of Italian seasoning. I boiled 4 lasagna noodles (yup, only 4) to almost al dente, shocked them in ice water and began to roll.

I laid out all 4 noodles and spooned equal amounts of the cheese mixture onto each one, spreading it evenly along the noodle. I topped each one with chopped game hen and rolled them up. I topped them with a tomato alfredo sauce before popping them in the oven just long enough to warm it all back up and finish cooking the noodles.

One roll was definitely enough for a meal when served up with some green beans and a slice of garlic bread for dipping in the extra sauce!

I didn't really create a recipe as I went for this one. It's more of a 'see what you have in the fridge and season accordingly' kind of meal. It turns into a form of Italian sushi :p

So, pop open the door to your fridge, rummage around for those leftovers you're dreading to find a use for and wrap them up in some pasta!

As for the tomato alfredo, I can give you a recipe for that :)

Tomato Alfredo    Yields 4 servings

1 T butter
1 T flour
1/2 c milk
1/4 c parmesan cheese
Salt/pepper to taste
1 T tomato paste

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in flour until a thick paste forms. Keeping heat low, add milk and bring heat up slightly to warm. Whisk in cheese and tomato paste. Salt/pepper to taste. Bring to a slight simmer until desired consistancy is reached.

Some people like a thinner sauce, some thicker. You can always add more milk or cheese to thin or thick your sauce if needed.

As written, it has 50 calories per serving


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Coffee Marinated Pork Loin with Loaded Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Normally, I am NOT a coffee fan. I can't stand the smell or flavor of it, so, needless to say, I was skeptical about making this pork. But, Cal likes coffee, and I thought he would like it, so I threw it in the mix. I have to say, it brought more of a roasted, caramel-y flavor with a hint of that coffee bite, and I was pretty impressed with the outcome. Even Emily ate it!

For the sides, I had found a recipe for something someone created as a play on a Brown Betty. As I made it, I wasn't happy with the way it was turning out, so I simply added a few things and turned them into loaded mashed potatoes with cheese melted on top (since I already had the ramekins out and ready to go). Also, I chose simple buttered green beans with a little bit of salt and pepper.


1.5 lb pork loin (Mine was more around 1 lb, and it worked just fine)
1 T instant coffee
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne

That's it. Simply combine everything, rub it onto the pork and let it marinate for at least 2 hours. I would not recommend doing it overnight, but while you're at work, or something like that should be fine. I don't know if the coffee would penetrate too deeply the longer it sits. I did 3 hours. When you're ready to go, cook your pork at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until it reaches 150-160 degrees.


I took 2 medium and 1 small potato, peeled and chopped into 1" pieces. Boil them as you would mashed potatoes. The part that got me was... you drain them, return them to the pot, and cook them for a couple of minutes to get rid of the excess water... This is where it went wrong for me. They were just too dry for my liking. So, here's what I would do.. next time:

boil your potatoes as per mashed. Drain.

1 T butter
1 T sour cream
2-3 T milk
1 slice crumbled bacon or bacon bits
1/8 c shredded cheddar cheese

Place in ramekins and top each with some extra cheese. Place in the oven when you take your pork out. As you let the pork rest, let the cheese melt, and then everything is ready at the same time ;)

Green Beans

I simply boil my beans to desired tenderness. I have to cook ours a little softer so Emily can eat them. Then, toss in a small bit of butter, some salt and some pepper, and viola: simple side.

All in all, it was pretty scrumptious. The recipe is definitely going in the box for another day :D


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Baked Chicken Kiev with Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Zucchini

Once again, I apologize for the picture. One day, I'll do some research on food photography, but right now, I'm more interested in the actual cooking. 

Today's meal comes with a few tips and tricks that I've picked up recently. My grandmother gave me this huge paper grocery bag (like the bags you get when you pick up a huge catering at Panera), full of Rachel Ray, Paula Deen, Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens magazines. Literally, almost two years' worth. So, I've slowly been going through them and ripping out the pages with yummy sounding recipes on them. Along the way, I came across a couple of cool tips that I put to use in this recipe.

To begin. Chicken Kiev is usually fried. Since I'm on the "healthy eating" kick (mind you, we do still get our fryer out on a semi regular basis), today, we bake it. Honestly, with the butter that makes it "kiev," you really don't miss the friedness. I served it up with some mashed potatoes and roasted zucchini. Our local market had these huge zucchini (and by huge, I mean about 10" long and 4" thick) priced at 3 for $2. (I love mom and pop shops!), so I grabbed on the last time I was there. That was about a two weeks ago. I'm still finding ways to use it all up! Especially since I'm the only one who will eat it. 

Anyway. Chicken! 

The recipe as written by Thank Your Body calls for things like sprouted flour and other randomness that I just don't have, so I changed it up a bit to go as follows...

1 Chicken breast, halved lengthwise
1/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 c plain breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/4 c butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch of black pepper

At least 2 hours before you plan on cooking, combine your butter, zest, thyme, garlic and pepper in a small bowl. You're making an infused butter, so it needs to sit to re-solidify and, well, infuse. Here's where Rachel Ray tip #1 comes in... if you are doing this when you get home from work, or forgot to take the butter out ahead of time, grab your box grater and large grate that butter! Fine grating will just make a big mess... definitely use the larger side of the grater. This will allow your butter to soften in a quarter of the time then leaving it a whole stick! After you combine the ingredients, press them into a ball, or oval or whatever shape you fancy, wrap it in plastic and pop that baby into the fridge. As I said, give it at least 2 hours before cooking for maximum flavor. You can even make it the day before, if you are up for dinner planning way ahead of time.

Tip #2: Also from Rachel.. don't know what to do with the rest of that lemon now that you've used up some of it's zest? Zest the rest of it and save it for next time. You can either dry it in a 200 deg oven for about an hour or pop it in a bag or small container and freeze it until you need it again. Instead of taking the time to zest mine, I simply peel it with a potato peeler (just the rind, don't get the white pith), dry it for about 2 hours and then pop it in my coffee grinder (which has been used for everything BUT coffee) and into a spice jar for safe keeping.

When you're ready to cook, prepare your dredge first. In 3 separate bowls, place your egg, bread crumbs and flour. Now, the original recipe says to add a little salt and pepper to your chicken and to your bread crumbs. I like to kick it up a notch, as you can easily lose the flavor of the breading that way. I season all three parts of the dredge, and I season them LIBERALLY. I put salt and pepper in all three. To the flour and breadcrumbs, I added some thyme (to tie into the butter flavor) and some paprika (mainly for color). If you ever wonder how some of the fried food you see gets that nice, brown color, it's paprika in the breading. Yes, it's red, but it helps color the flour during cooking.

Once your dredge is set up, take both halves of the breast and pound them out slightly until they are about 1/4" thick. Take out that butter and slice off about 2 tablespoons worth (I found that's all I could fit in my chicken. If you want to try to fit more, have at it). Anyway, cut about 4 slices, placing 2 in each breast half. Wrap the chicken around the butter. I tend to do mine burrito style so I'm sure all of the edges are sealed. Then, into the flour, into the egg, into the breadcrumbs and into a baking dish.

Bake them at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees(F).

Here's my little tip.. and tip #3.. When making your mashed potatoes, use the rest of the infused butter instead of plain butter. It flavor ties the potatoes to your chicken, and you don't have to wonder what on earth you're going to do with 2T of this garlic, lemon, thyme butter in the future.

My mashed potato recipe is pretty basic. One potato per person, 1T butter per potato (yes, restaurant style. That's what happens when you and your hubs has worked in a kitchen), milk to the desired creaminess and salt to taste. Viola.

My zucchini is also pretty basic. Tossed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in the oven for about 20 minutes. I put it in 10 minutes after my chicken so everything was done at the same time.

Some of you may be wondering.. but what about the calories? All that butter.. ughhh.. My theory.. Yes, I'm counting calories, but I refuse to sacrifice taste..

To better calculate the calories, and since Emily was napping during dinner prep time, I remeasured my dredge post dredging to see just how much of it is actually used. I know that 1 egg is about 3T of liquid (1T yolk, 2T white). So, the dredge used about 1T of egg total. It used about 1T of the flour mixture and 2T of breadcrumbs. I used these numbers when considering the calories.

Overall, one piece of chicken comes out to 261 calories. One serving of mashed potatoes comes out to 222 calories and one serving of zucchini (about a 1/2c) comes out to 60 calories. Total dinner: 543 Calories.

Not too shabby.

Enjoy :D

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Margherita Pizza

Pizza: The age old stand by for those nights you don't feel like cooking. Normally, on these nights, we would wind up ordering some kind of greasy, gooey goodness along with some wings, mozzarella sticks and probably some other kind of deep fried appetizer. But, since I've become dedicated to losing the rest of this baby weight, and our budget is not allowing for take out of any kind, homemade pizza it is.

I had thrown this baby into the meal plan because I had the fresh mozzarella to use up from our mozzarella stuffed meatballs. I already had some homemade pizza dough in the freezer from the last time I made dough and some homemade pizza sauce in the fridge, so tonight's dinner took practically no time to prepare, which was nice because Emily decided to get up early and nap late and this momma is tired!

I've decided that since I'm doing all of this meal planning, I'm going to start posting full meals. Unfortunately, this first one is just pizza, but I'll give you the recipe for the dough, sauce and assembly. 

I finally found a pizza dough I like and that is fairly low in calories. It has a nice flavor and texture and is especially delish as a thin crust! 

Dough -- Yields 4 small dough balls for 12" pizzas

1/2 cup warm water (between 110 and 112 deg)
2 1/4 tsp yeast (or one package)
4 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup room temperature water
2 T olive oil

In a mixer bowl with paddle attachment, combine your flour and salt. In a separate cup or bowl, combine the warm water and yeast. Let it sit for 5 minutes, or until you begin to see bubbles (meaning the yeast is activating). Add the room temperature water and stir slightly. With mixer on low, add the water to the flour and salt. Add the oil as well. Mix until dough begins to form, and then switch to the dough hook. Let the mixer work for about 5 minutes or until the dough forms a ball on the hook and is fully formed. Let the dough rise for an hour in an oiled, covered bowl. Cut the dough into 4 equal sections to freeze some for later!

While your dough is rising, you can make a quick pizza sauce. It's basically the same as a marinara without any chunky tomatoes. While I don't have an actual recipe for this, I do have a list of what goes in mine.

1 can of plain tomato sauce
garlic powder (not salt!)
onion powder
usually a pinch of red pepper flake, though I've been omitting it because of Emily
Parmesan cheese

All, obviously, to taste.

To prep for the pizza itself I sliced about 3 ounces of fresh mozzarella and  half of a beefsteak tomato about a quarter inch thick. Instead of leaving my basil leaves whole, as would be traditional, I decided to chiffonade mine, again, so Emily could eat it. 

So, I roll out the dough, nice and thin. Top it with the pizza sauce, then tomato slices, mozzarella and basil on top. I throw it onto my preheated pizza stone (500 degrees) and cook it for about 10 minutes. Let it rest a couple of minutes to cool and set and viola, pizza night!

The best part about it, there's only 218 calories in 2 slices!