Friday, March 26, 2010

Pear and Blue Cheese Soup

Our favorite flavor combination is back again. This soup while not very complex is SO EASY and flavorful. It is also very inexpensive to make. Who doesn't like pear and blue cheese? Actually I was talking about this soup at work and I think that I totally grossed out my coworkers. The one guy said that he doesn't eat pears even and the other seemed pretty taken aback that these pears are cooked. I really don't like raw pears to tell you the truth. The texture is all grainy and sandy. I prefer some type of heat to soften them up. Pear and blue cheese pizza is one of our favorites but we also make a tartlet using phyllo cups. I'm sure if I wanted to be really creative I could come up with other ideas. Pear and blue cheese omelet perhaps? Maybe a crostada or galette? A wrap? I think I've made similar panini in the past. Anyway, make this soup, before it really gets warm and summery and you want to eat salad for months.

Pear and Blue Cheese Soup (from Biggest Diabetic Loser)
Serves 2

14.5 ounce fat free, low sodium chicken broth
2 medium sized pears, peeled and sliced
2 ounces blue cheese
1.5 ounce pancetta, diced and pan fried (then cooled)
salt and pepper to taste
sprinkle of Paprika
  1. Put broth in pot and add sliced pears.
  2. Cook until pears are soft enough to blend with a stick blender.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in blue cheese and add salt, pepper and paprika.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tacos Verdes de Pollo

Tacos Verdes de Pollo

6 flour tortillas (fajita size)
1/2 large onion, sliced and caramelized
6 tbsp shredded pepper jack cheese
1 boneless chicken breast half
2 cups fresh spinach, shredded
1-2 tsbp seasoning for chicken (I used a mixture of salt, thyme, bay, allspice, hot pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, cinnamon, and pepper- a spice blend from a friend)
1 avocado
1/4 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1 clove garlic, minced
kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2. tbsp fat free Greek yogurt

1. Press seasoning blend into chicken. Pan sear on both sides until cooked through. slice very thinly for tacos.
2. Make avocado crema: mash avocado and combine with garlic, salt to taste, cilantro, grapefruit juice and yogurt.
3. Microwave tortillas in a wet paper towel until soft 10-20 seconds.
4. Assemble tacos with 1/6 of each: caramelized onions, cheese, chicken, spinach, and avocado crema.

These are so delicious. The avocado crema was yummy and the grapefruit juice kept the acidity needed from lemon juice to prevent oxidation but added sweetness to balance out the rest of tang from the yogurt and the spice from the garlic. The caramelized onions add the rest of the sweetness. I want to make these again. Can we make them again now? I want to make them now.

Baked Eggs in Toast Cups

This is a great concept. So easy, affordable and fast! The only problem I still have is that I don't REALLY like eggs. They look so delicious and creamy, smooth. As a child I really only ate scrambled ages or omelettes. I wanted to like the fried sunny side up eggs my parents made and would eat them once in a while but had a hard time stomaching them. In college I tried to enjoy egg salad one Easter season. Since them I can eat poached eggs (with something like toast) and eggs benedict (variation on poached). I still can't stand hard boiled. So I decided baked eggs deserved a shot as well.

Baked Eggs in Toast Cups

4 eggs
4 pieces sliced bread (crusts removed)
1 tsp butter
1 tsp pesto
1 tsp olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Using a rolling pin, flatten each piece of bread.
  3. Grease 4 tins of a muffin tin and fill the rest with a few centimeters of water.
  4. Press each piece of bread into the muffin tins.
  5. Break one egg into each bread cup.
  6. Sprinkle each egg with salt and pepper and top with 1/4 tsp of butter.
  7. Bake eggs until reach desired done-ness, 8-10 minutes.
  8. Mix pesto and olive oil and drizzle over finished eggs.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pressed BBQ Chicken Sandwich

I originally wanted to make panini but I don't think this flattened enough to consider it legitimate panini but I promise that I pressed and heated this sandwich. The side was just broiled asparagus with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. They were so good. I could have eaten a whole dinner of just asparagus. Just like fries and apparently one of the proper ways to enjoy asparagus, I ate them with my fingers.

Pressed BBQ Chicken Sandwich
hard roll
3 oz piece of boneless skinless BBQ chicken (I sauteed mine on the stove top with sauce)
1 slice muenster cheese
1/2 cup caramelized onions
extra barbecue sauce or horseradish sauce (optional)

Assemble sandwich and press/heat as you would panini.

Roasted Asparagus, Zucchini and Tomato Salad

I am very apprehensive when it comes to making salad. They just don't turn out right. Maybe it's genetic, my mother also isn't confident when it comes to salad. I do really enjoy a good whole meal salad and the ones I have been making are getting better.This one was exceptional. I couldn't find halloumi cheese at my supermarket and I didn't grill the vegetables like the original recipe said to but it was delicious just the same. I love roasted vegetables! They are super easy and juicy and wonderful. I served this with the Greek turkey meatballs.

Roasted Asparagus, Zucchini and Tomato Salad
(adapted from Closet Cooking-and Cook Sister!) Makes 2 large salads

4 handfuls spinach
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
8-10 spears asparagus
1 zucchini, thinly slice lengthwise
4 oz breadcheese, cut into 1 oz slices (Juustoleipa/Leipajuusto)-Carr Valley is the brand I have.
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons pesto
olive oil

  1. Place tomatoes, asparagus and zucchini on baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil, add salt and pepper and toss to coat, keeping each vegetable separate from the others. Broil on high 5 minutes or until you reach desired color.
  2. Mix lemon juice, pesto and approx. 1 tablespoon olive oil, reserve as dressing for the salad.
  3. Heat bread cheese 30 second in the microwave on separate plate. Top spinach with cheese.
  4. Add vegetables and dressing to salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Greek Turkey Meatballs

This is the second attempt at this Greek turkey meatballs recipe. They really are quite delicious. My friend W tried one and she said there were delicious as well. I have been using a 1/2 tablespoon to create the meatballs for all my turkey meatballs lately. I like have lots of little meatballs rather than a few larger ones. I served this along with a salad (see next post) and all in all it was a wonderful meal to top off a day of beautiful weather. Spring is in the air and soon we'll be grilling up a storm. I can't wait for the seasonal produce and I'm thinking about joining a CSA.

Greek Turkey Meatballs (adapted from The Perfect Pantry)

6-8 oz ground turkey

1/4 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs

~4 tbsp fat free plain Greek yogurt

1 large egg

~1 tsp dried oregano

~1 tsp lemon zest

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp olive oil

1 tbsp dried parsley

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix until well combined, with the breadcrumbs and yogurt evenly distributed throughout.
  2. Wet your hands with water, and form the turkey mixture into meatballs.
  3. In a pan coated with cooking spray, saute the meatballs until cooked through, turning to ensure browning on all sides.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pork Bulgogi

After going to the Korean restaurant in NYC two weekends ago, I decided we needed to try making some of out own Korean food and trying new things. I'm not a huge Martha Stewart fan and I'm not sure how authentic this recipe is but we tried it just the same. I would make this again in a heartbeat. I think this would be easy to do with other types of meat as well. We enjoy the very lean pork but chicken and beef should also be decent. This also gave me the opportunity to use my wok (always a plus!). As usual J wanted some rice or noodles to accompany his pork. This is a little spicy but you can definitely decrease the amount of red pepper flakes for the more sensitive palate.

Pork Bulgogi (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Serves 2

4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp ginger, freshly grated
1/4 tsp ground pepper
6 oz pork loin, very thinly sliced crosswise (pounded to equal thinness if necessary)
1/2 large sweet onion, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon corn oil
sesame seeds
Boston Bibb lettuce, 6-8 whole leaves
  1. In a medium bowl, combine garlic cloves, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, crushed red pepper, ginger, and ground pepper.
  2. Add pork and onion wedges; marinate 10-30 minutes.
  3. In a wok, heat oil over high heat. Brown pork and onion, 5 to 10 minutes. Add sesame seeds, if desired.
  4. Wrap mixture in lettuce leaves, taco style, to eat.


I was living in Spain when I first tried lentils. I hated them. Then I tried the lentil soup with cider vinegar. This is the only way to eat lentil soup. Giving up on lentils for a while, I had them again at W's house over rice and lettuce with feta and vegetables. It was awesome! So I decided to try this Middle Eastern recipe because I love onions. I was not impressed. I'd say if you like lentils, it was delicious. I had to throw out my leftovers. Not one of my better experiments.

Mujadarrah (adapted from CookEatShare)

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, sliced into rings
1/3 cups uncooked lentils
1/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onions, and cook about 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Place lentils in a medium saucepan with enough lightly salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and enough water to cover into the saucepan with the lentils. Season with salt and pepper. Cover saucepan, and continue to simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until rice and lentils are tender.
  4. Mix half the onions into the lentil mixture. Top with yogurt or sour cream and remaining onions to serve.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Turkey Kefta

Last May I made this recipe from Cooking Light. I was looking for some more turkey meatball ideas when I stumbled back on this recipe and I decided to use the ingredients and the idea to make something a little different. The special part of this recipe is the Ras el Hanout that I made last year for the original recipe. Here's my take (with help from CL) on Moroccan Kefta using

Turkey Kefta (adapted from Cooking Light)

1/2 large sweet onion sliced
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Ras el Hanout
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
Cooking spray

1 tbsp dried parsley (this is a personal preference because I don't like fresh parsley)
1/4 cup dry seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Ras el Hanout
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
10 oz ground turkey

couscous (prepared per package instructions)
Greek yogurt
  1. With a little cooking spray caramelize the onions. Add salt, pepper, raisins, Ras el Hanout and a splash of broth.
  2. Combine turkey, parsley, breadcrumbs, salt, Ras el Hanout, pepper and egg in a large bowl; shape mixture into 1/2 tbsp sized meatballs.
  3. Place meatballs on top of onion mixture; cover and cook, turning once, until done. Continue adding broth so food in pan doesn't stick as it evaporated. Not so much that you are boiling the meatballs (more like they are beings gradually sauteed and steamed at the same time).
  4. Serve over prepared couscous with a dollop of fat free plain Greek yogurt.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mandoo Bar (New York, NY)

We were looking for a place to eat in between the used CD store and the theatre and apparently that's just where Koreatown happens to be. Totally randomly I chose Mandoo Bar online. J and I had never actually had the pleasure (that we knew of) of eating Korean food before. I had tried kimchi once at a Vietnamese restaurant but that was as close as we had come. Mandoo Bar specializes in mandu, little dumplings. We tried the pork mandu and they were delicious. All the mandu are made right in the front of the restaurant by two ladies who do nothing other than make mandu all day long. Here they are. The picture below is our Goon Mandu. We also decided to try the Seafood Noodles and the Bulgogi. J really enjoyed the metal chop sticks that are customary for Koreans.
He thought the Seafood Noodles weren't all that different than the Shrimp Yaki-Udon that he gets at the Japanese restaurant in our town. I didn't like them as much as the Bulgogi, which I would love to be able to make for myself. Now that I've had some Korean food, I can't wait to be able to experience it again.

Via Brasil (New York, NY)

I'm not saying I'm against Brazilian food in the slightest. J explained it to me in this way: it's like the Thai restaurant. What he means is that every time he goes to the Thai restaurant, he always orders something he hates. He says he has finally found something that he likes. Once when we went to New York, J decided he wanted to try Via Brasil. Last time I tried ordering something I thought I would like (chicken stroganoff) and I was sorely disappointed. It is very rare that I go somewhere and don't at least mildly enjoy the food I'm eating.

J claims that he had his favorite meal ever at the Brazilian restaurant, misto. I remember thinking that he was out of his mind, and that it wasn't that good (bland). Misto is a mix of chicken, pork, beef, and sausage, served on a giant sword-like skewer. J likes to call it "meat on a sword". Being that it was his birthday, I thought it would be nice to offer to go back to Via Brasil (even though I had no idea what to order, which never happens. Usually I can't decide because there are too many things I want on the menu).

This time I decided to be more daring and try something very authentic and more out of my comfort zone: Feijoada Completa, black bean stew with fresh and dried beef, salt and fresh pork, bacon, sausage, and ribs served with rice, collard greens, orange slices and farofa (toasted yuca flour). J tried it and he thought it wasn't bad. I actually liked the collard greens ok but I really wasn't a fan of the rest of it.
This time J's food was delicious. I don't know what the difference was but the meat had a very nice flavor. So at the very least I've foudn something I can eat so J can have his favorite meal.
While this was tasty it really doesn't have too much in the way of being nutritionally sound and good for the Biggest Loser contest. I didn't eat too much so hopefully it didn't ruin my standing.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Il Melograno (New York, NY)

I rarely do a restaurant review (probably because many of the places where we live and eat aren't really note-worthy). This weekend, however we went to NYC for J's birthday. As is the custom with the two of us we spent an unholy amount of time trying to decide where to eat. Finally I just made a decision and we went with it.

Il Melograno is owned by an Italian gentleman, Alberto, who according to the couple seated to the side of us, once owned a very successful restaurant in the Italian Alps. Located on the corner of W. 51st St and 10th Avenue a mere 20 min walk from our accommodations on Central Park Sout, Il Melograno means pomegranate in Italian.

Our first impressions were a little shaky, mostly due to the fact that it was such a busy night. No more than 15 tables and seating for approximately 30 made our first 15 or so an interesting affair. There were two couples and a single gentlemen waiting for a table ahead of us (in a space only big enough to hold two people comfortably. If it wasn't winter I would have been very happy to wait outside because it was apparent that we were in the way. A six top was open and after some quick thinking they separated the tables to form three two tops. The single gentleman (who may have been a critic for the way he was approaching the meal, decided he would rather wait for the more spacious bench table near the door. This move wedged us between two couples (most likely in their 60s). Once they brought me a chair, things began to run more smoothly.

The way the restaurant is set up, the pass is right along the aisle that patrons must walk through to enter and exit the back tables in the restaurant. This afforded us the view of all food being served at the restaurant (which was quite a treat and made ordering easier). We were also able to watch the fluidity with which Alberto moved from the role of owner, to head chef, to bus boy, to cashier, to expediting. The man did it all in the hour and a half that we were there.

The best way for me to describe the atmosphere is dynamic. This is not the place to go for a quiet dinner for two, with white tablecloths and old world restaurant manners. The staff was vibrant, youthful, and helpful. The kitchen being part of the dining area was not conducive to low whispered conversations with an illicit lover (if that's your particular situation). We were so close to our fellow diners that by the end of the meal we had made friends with one of the couples who was distantly related through marriage to the owner.

Not knowing what wine we wanted to order the couple next to us directed us to ask for a taste of the house red. It was a little too heavy for my taste in wine. I prefer light to medium bodied wines. We each had a glass of the Pinot Noir instead. They pour very generously by the glass so I didn't feel cheated not ordering the bottle. The staff was also very attentive to filling up my water glass.

The menu on is not complete and obviously would not include specials, but their website is under construction so at the moment it was the only resource we had. Originally we were going to order the Cecina, a puree of chickpeas and basil, which sounded similar to a pesto hummus but after seeing them at the pass we went with one of the specials: arugula, tomato, and orange salad as an accompaniment to grilled swordfish, shrimp, and calamari. J was torn between homemade pasta (most of the pasta is homemade and specified as so on the menu) with pesto or the rack of lamb, with spinach, and roasted potatoes. The lamb was very good. I was deciding between several of the pasta dishes and when it came down to the penne with wild mushroom ragout, mascarpone cheese & fresh rosemary or the fresh pappardelle with sweet sausage sauce, peas and truffle oil, my server directed me to try the fresh pasta instead. The only complaint I have (and it's a personal taste issue) is that the sauce contained some red (I believe bell) pepper and I would have liked that specified on the menu because I'm not the biggest fan of peppers in my red sauce. The dish was still delicious and I would definitely order it again.
Sorry for the picture quality but I didn't want to bother the other people dining so close to us, and it was a difficult to see if it was focused or not.
For dessert I thought perhaps the tiramisu would be too boring, so we ordered the apple and nutella cake with vanilla gelato. I don't think it was fresh so we would have been better with the tiramisu. Our dinner companions said it was the best tiramisu they had ever eaten and offered us a taste. J liked it so much that he ordered one to go. Later Alberto came to speak to the other table and we complimented the chef and they brought us all limoncello. The other gentleman we were sitting with (not realizing J had bought a second dessert to go) told Alberto that J needed tiramisu instead of limoncello, so we had a bite of that as well.

Overall I would go back to Il Melograno. It was very reasonably priced and well located. The cramped quarters were not as distracting as I thought they might be.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chicken, Cashew, and Red Pepper Stir-Fry

Here's the weekly stir-fry. I don't know if I'll make another one next week. I think that J is getting a little tired of them. He wants me to start stir-frying the rice as well. This will take some ahead of time planning. This was very easy and tasty, another winner from Cooking Light.

Chicken, Cashew, and Red Pepper Stir-Fry (adapted from Cooking Light)

3 3/4 tsp cornstarch, divided
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1 tbsp dry sherry
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
3/4 tsp sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
1/2 lb. chicken breast, cut lengthwise into thin strips
1/2 cup lightly salted cashews
1 tbsp canola oil
1 julienne-cut red bell pepper
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup white rice, cooked according to packet instructions

  1. Combine 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and next 4 ingredients (through hot pepper sauce) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.
  2. Combine remaining 2 3/4 teaspoons cornstarch, remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and chicken in a medium bowl; toss well to coat.
  3. Heat wok over medium high heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add chicken mixture to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan; place in a bowl. Add bell pepper to pan; sauté 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and ginger; cook 30 seconds. Add chicken and cornstarch mixture to pan; cook 1 minute or until sauce is slightly thick. Sprinkle with cashews and green onions. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Greek Pasta and Meatballs

I really enjoy making meatballs. They are so much fun and I'm pretty fast at making them. Of course this is another cooking light recipe. As far as Greek inspired recipes, I prefer this recipe for turkey meatballs (sauteed with a little cooking spray) from The Perfect Pantry. Although this was a light recipe I felt that the ground lamb that was available in the grocery store was extremely fatty. I don't generally use jarred tomato sauce (see recipe), so instead I took a can of crushed tomatoes and sauteed some garlic and onion (plus some herbs and spices I had on hand with a pinch of cinnamon to tie in the Greek flavor to the sauce) to make a sauce. I think I'll continue to use the ground turkey for (weekly) meatballs.

Greek Pasta with Meatballs (adapted from Cooking Light)

3/4 cup orzo
1/3 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound lean ground lamb (I couldn't get lean and it really needs to be less fat that what I had)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
2 large egg whites
cooking spray
1-2 cups marinara sauce (can add oregano, cinnamon, and allspice for more of a Greek taste)
8 tablespoons feta cheese (reduced fat if you prefer)

  1. Preheat broiler on high.
  2. Cook orzo according to package directions; drain. Keep warm.
  3. Combine breadcrumbs and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a medium bowl; stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley. Add egg whites, stirring mixture until just combined. Shape mixture into ~25-30 (1 tbsp) meatballs, place on cookie sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray.
  4. Broil meatballs 4-5 minutes on each side, turning once (8-10 min total). Let dry on paper towels. Spoon heated marinara sauce over orzo; sprinkle with cheese. Serve with meatballs.
I thought it was a little bland so I added a little grated Parmesan cheese as well.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chicken Panini with Figs

Back when I was making the fig stuffed pork tenderloin, I bought some figs. Later I made a fig paste to put on some pizza. My grocery didn't carry fig jam or preserves and I am continuing to use the dried fig paste from the same fig for other things. Last week my parents came to visit (and I forgot to photograph all the food I had made but I will make the fig and blue cheese appetizers again for J's birthday on Friday. I put half a tsp or so of blue cheese and the same amount of fig paste in little phyllo cups and toasted them. When I saw this recipe in my file, I thought it would be a nice way to use up some of the chicken in the freezer and these figs. Thanks again, Cooking Light!

Chicken Panini with Figs (adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves 2

1/8 cup fig paste (re-hydrated dried figs, chopped in food processor)
1 (small) ciabatta loaf, cut lengthwise
1/8 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 cooked, boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup mesclun
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  1. Spread jam over cut side of top half of bread. Combine cheese and butter in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Spread cheese mixture over cut side of bottom half of bread. Arrange chicken evenly over cheese mixture; sprinkle with pepper. Place top half of bread, jam side down, over chicken.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add sandwich to pan. Place a heavy cast-iron skillet on sandwich; cook 5 minutes or until both sides are browned, turning once. You can also use a panini press.
  3. Place arugula in a bowl. Drizzle juice over arugula; toss gently. Remove top bread half from sandwich. Arrange arugula mixture over chicken. Replace top bread half. Cut sandwich into 2 equal portions.