Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mexican Rice

I have been searching for a good Mexican Rice recipe for a while now and have tried several none of which have made the cut, until now!  This one is perfect and only takes about 5 minutes more prep than a boxed variety, without the preservatives and you can control the ingredients.

Mexican Rice
(Makes 8 to 10 servings)

·         2     tablespoons butter
·         1 ½ cups long-grain rice
·         ½    cup chopped onion
·         ½    cup chopped green bell pepper
·         clove garlic, minced
·         cups water
·         (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
·         teaspoons chili powder
·         ¾    teaspoon salt
·         cup shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)

·         In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add rice, onion, pepper, and garlic; cook until rice is browned and vegetables are tender.  Stir in water, tomatoes, chili powder, and salt; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 to 17 minutes, or until rice is tender.  Stir in cheese if desired.

Source: Paula Dean Best Dishes

Friday, January 28, 2011

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

If you are looking for a tasty whole wheat pizza crust….here it is!  Fed it to my family (ie the picky-pants) and they had no idea it contained whole grains. 

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
Makes one extra large or two medium

·         1      (1/4 oz) pkg of active dry yeast
·         1      tablespoon of sugar
·         1 ¼  cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
·         2 ½  cups whole-wheat flour
·         1 ½  cups unbleached all-purpose flour
·         2      teaspoons salt
·         1      tablespoon olive oil
·          Cornmeal

·         Add water to a 2 cup glass measuring cup, add yeast and sugar stirring to combine.  Let sit 5 minutes
·         Add whole-wheat flour, unbleached all-purpose flour, and salt to the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse several times to combine.
·         Stir olive oil into yeast mixture.
·         With processor running, slowly add yeast mixture, until mixture is combined and a ball forms.
·         On a lightly floured surface, turn the dough out and kneed for 5 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turn to grease top.  Cover, and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
·         Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
·         On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out.
·         Sprinkle a pizza stone with cornmeal or lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
·         Place crust on stone or baking sheet, prick with a fork, add toppings.
·         Bake on lower shelf in oven till cheese is bubbly and crust is cooked through.

·         Substitute warm beer for the water.
·         Add a tablespoon of parmesan cheese or herbs to the flour mixture.
·         Divide dough and let everyone add their own toppings.
·         If you are trying to cut sugar out of your diet substitute a tablespoon of agave syrup.
·         If your family is just getting used to whole grains you can use White Wheat flour instead of the Whole Wheat.  You can also just use all White Wheat flour if you are trying to cut out refined carbs.  Just be aware that the crust will be denser and need a little more elbow grease to roll out.
·         Make a couple of batches at once.  Bake the crusts without toppings.  Wrap the crusts individually with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store in ziplock bags in the freezer.  Just take them out add toppings and bake.  This works best if you make individual crusts that will fit in the ziptop bags, or just double wrap larger ones.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pork with Pomegranate Pan Sauce

Made this one for New Years Day Dinner and the whole family enjoyed it, even Mikey (Cedric).  It is from Cooking Light’s December Issue so it is not only tasty and calorie conscience, but you can get the whole meal on the table in just about 30 minutes.

Pork with Pomegranate Pan Sauce
 with Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes & Garlic Green Beans

½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4  (4-ounce) boneless center-cut pork loin chops
2  teaspoons olive oil
1/3 cup chopped shallots
3/4 cup pomegranate juice
1   tablespoon sugar
1   tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; sprinkle over pork chops.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops; cook 3 minutes on each side.  Remove and keep warm. Add shallots to pan; cook 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Add juice, 1 tablespoon sugar, and vinegar; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick. Serve pork with sauce. 

Yeild: 4 servings (serving size; 1 pork chop and about 2 tablespoons sauce).

CAL 232; FAT 8.8g; PROTIEN 24g; CARB 13.1g; FIBER 0.3g; CHOL 67mg; IRON 1.3mg; SODIUM 352mg; CALC 34mg

For the Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes:
Prepare 1 (20-ounce) package refrigerated mashed potatoes according to package directions. Stir in 2 tablespoons reuced-fat sour cream. Top each serving with 1 teaspoon butter and ½ teaspoon minced fresh chives. *Please note I made my own mashed potatoes from scratch (yes my family is spoiled).

For the Garlic Green Beans:
Cook ¾ pound trimmed green beans in boiling water 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and plunge into ice water; drain. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a pan. Add 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves; sauté 2 minutes or until golden brown. Add beans, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper; cook 2 minutes or until heated.

30 Minute Game Plan
While water for green beans comes to a boil:
·         Trim green beans.
·         Season pork.
·         Chop shallots.
·         Slice garlic.
While pork cooks:
·         Warm potatoes.
·         Blanch green beans.
While sauce cooks:
·         Finish green beans.

·         Make sure you have all your ingredients, utensils and pans ready before you start.
·         To skip the boiling and ice bath for the green beans buy microwave ready fresh green beans.

Enchilada Lasagna

Just so you know my family does not eat casseroles unless it is Italian Lasagna, and they loved this one.  It is super yummy and received 2 thumbs up.  I found it in a Taste of Home magazine and it was submitted by Charlene Griffin in Minocqua, WI.  All I can say is that lady knows good food.

Enchilada Lasagna
Serves 12

1- ½ lbs of ground beef
1  medium onion, diced
1  garlic clove, minced
1  can (14- ½ oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1  can (10 oz) enchilada sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
1  egg beaten
1- ½ cups (12 oz) 4% cottage cheese
3  cups (12 oz) shredded Mexican cheese blend
8  flour tortillas (8-in) cut in half
1  cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pin; drain.  Stir in the tomatoes, enchilada sauce and cumin.  Bring to a boil reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine egg and cottage cheese, set aside.  Spread a third of the meat sauce into a greased 13-in x 9-in baking dish.  Layer with half of the cheese blend, tortillas, cottage cheese mixture and remaining meat sauce.  Repeat layers.  Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until bubbly.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Beef Veggie Soup

Used my leftover Beef Roast ala Crystal to make my yummy Beef Veggie Soup.  I just love a simmering pot of this hearty vegetable soup.  You can add and delete veggies to suit your taste.

Beef Veggie Soup

·         3-4  cups of leftover Beef Roast ala Crystal (or see hints below)
·         1     (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
·         1     (14 oz) can green beans
·         1     (14 oz) can peas
·         1     (14 oz) can corn
·         1     tablespoon Italian seasoning
·         1     tablespoon sugar
·         Salt and pepper to taste

·         Add left over Beef Roast ala Crystal to a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. If desired cut potatoes and carrots into smaller bite size pieces. 
·         Add un-drained tomatoes, green beans, peas, corn, Italian seasoning, and sugar to pot, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until desired thickness, stirring occasionally.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

·         If you do not have leftover beef roast you can make your base by browning 4 oz of stew meat seasoned with 1 teaspoon McCormick Just a Pinch Steak seasoning in a Dutch oven.  Add a ½ cup each diced onion, and celery.  Sautee 2 minutes stirring frequently.  Add 1 (14 oz) can of beef broth, cover and simmer about an hour or until meat is tender.  Add two potatoes and one carrot peeled and diced, to the pot and continue with step two above cooking until potatoes and carrots are cooked and broth thickens, about 40 minutes.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Beef Roast ala Crystal

This is one of my families favorite comfort food dishes.  I like it because I can get lots of other things done while it simmers.  You can do it in a crock pot but I find the flavor to be much better when slow cooked on the stove.  It allows the liquids to evaporate and the flavors to intensify.  I often use the leftovers to make beef stew or beef vegetable soup…you have to love a “two-fer” dish.

Beef Roast ala Crystal

·         1  (3-4lb) beef roast trimmed of extra fat (I like to use sirloin roast)
·         2  teaspoons of canola oil
·         1  tablespoon of steak seasoning, divided (I use McCormick Perfect Pinch Steak Seasoning)
·         1  medium onion, diced
·         1  rib of celery, diced
·         1  (14 oz) can of beef broth
·         2  lbs of baby carrots or regular carrots peeled and cut into chunks
·         3  lbs of potatoes cut into 3 in chunks (I use new red or Yukon gold they just need to be scrubbed no peeling required)

·         Cut beef into 3 to 4 inch chunks
·         In a large Dutch oven heat oil over high heat until hot but not smoking.  Brown chunks of meat in batches until browned on all sides.
·         Remove meat, lower heat to medium and add onion and celery.  Cook stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes.  Add beef broth, fill the can with water and add to the pot, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer 2-3 hours or until meat is tender
·         Add carrots to pot, and sprinkle with half of remaining steak seasoning.
·         Add potatoes to pot, and sprinkle with remaining steak seasoning.
·         Increase heat to high, bringing to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low cover and cook until potatoes and carrots are tender about 35 minutes.

·         I sometimes like to cut a small head of cabbage into quarters and place on top of potatoes.
·         You can also top the potatoes with corn on the cob.
·         Use leftovers to make beef stew or beef veggie soup
·         You can do this in the crockpot but I find the flavor is not quite as good and you need to omit the can of water.  Just brown the beef, add onion & celery making sure to use the broth to deglaze the pan, so you get all the browned goodness taste.
·         I like to serve it with sliced tomatoes and sliced fresh hot banana peppers, yummy!
·         Half the recipe if you have a small family or don’t want leftovers for day two.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pomeganate "Cheesecake"

For this one I took several different recipes and mixed and matched to suit my needs.  I needed to use up the leftover seeds and juice from the Pork Loin with Pomegranate Glaze.  The guys say it is a keeper, so here you go!

Pomegranate “Cheesecake”

·         1  prepared graham cracker pie crust
·         2  (8 oz) blocks of low fat cream cheese, softened
·         1  tsp pure vanilla extract
·         1  tbsp of pomegranate juice
·         2 cups of powdered sugar
·         1 ½ cup of pomegranate seeds
·         1/4 cup water
·         1/3 cup pomegranate juice
·         1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
·         2 tbsp sugar

·         In a medium mixing bowl, with a mixer on medium, cream the cream cheese until light and fluffy, mix in the vanilla extract and pomegranate juice.  Turn off mixer, add powdered sugar one cup at a time with mixer on low, turn mixer to medium and beat until smooth and creamy.
·         Pour cream cheese mixture into prepared pie crust.  Turn lid upside down over pie and place in refrigerator to set up about 1 hour.
·         Meanwhile prepare the topping
·         Place juice in a small saucepan and add water. Sprinkle gelatin over pomegranate juice and let stand 1 minute to soften gelatin.
·         Add sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Pour mixture into a bowl and set bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water, gently stirring until it is cold and slightly thickened but not set. Stir in pomegranate seeds and spoon topping onto chilled cheesecake. Chill cake until topping is set, about 1 hour.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I know it is the New Year and everyone is on the health bandwagon, so here is a lightened version of Red Velvet Cupcakes.  My family didn’t even notice that they have less calories and fat; all they noticed was how tasty they are.  So when you need a little something sweet these should fit the bill nicely.

Red Velvet Cupcakes


Cooking Spray
10 ounces cake flour (about 2 ½ cups)
3  tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1  teaspoon baking soda
1  teaspoon baking powder
1  teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
6  tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2  large eggs
1 ¼ cups nonfat buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons white vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2  tablespoons red food coloring (about 1 ounce)


5 tablespoons butter, softened
4 teaspoons nonfat buttermilk
1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, softened
3 ½ cups powdered sugar (about 1 pound)
1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. To prepare the cupcakes, place 30 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups; coat with cooking spray.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon cake flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine cake flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Place granulated sugar and unsalted butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and 1 ¼ cups nonfat buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add white vinegar, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla, and food coloring; beat well.
4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire racks.
5. To prepare frosting, beat 5 tablespoons butter, 4 teaspoons nonfat buttermilk, and cream cheese with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar; beat until smooth. Add 1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla; beat well. Spread frosting evenly over cupcakes.

YIELD: 30 cupcakes (serving size:1 cupcake)

CAL 205; FAT 7.3 ; PRO 2.3g; FIBER 0.3g; CHOL 34mg; FIBER 0.3g

·          Just follow the directions J
·          Make sure cupcakes are completely cool before frosting
·          Store leftovers (if any) in refrigerator

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fiesta Chowder

Let's get the party started.  This recipe is awesome, especially on a cold and snowy evening.  It tastes like the soup from Qudoba restaurant with cheese added. 

Fiesta Chowder
PREP: 15 MIN., COOK: 15 MIN.

The ingredient list may be long, but the
results are fast and delicious.

  3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  1 (1.4) package fajita seasoning, divided
  4 skinned and boned chicken
     breast halves, cubed
  3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  1 medium onion, chopped
  1 teaspoon minced garlic
  1 (15 ¼-ounce) can whole kernel
      corn with red and green peppers, drained
  1 (15-ounce) can black beans,
      rinsed and drained
  1 (14 ½ - ounce) can Mexican-style
       Stewed tomatoes
  1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chilies
  3 cups water
  1 cup uncooked instant brown rice
  1 (2 ¼ -ounce) can sliced ripe olives (optional)
  1 (10 ¾ -ounce) can condensed nacho cheese soup
  3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  1 tablespoon lime juice
   Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro
   Tortilla chips (optional)

COMBINE flour and 2 tablespoons fajita seasoning in a heavy-duty
zip-top plastic bag; add chicken.  Seal and shake to coat.
COOK chicken in hot oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat, stirring
often, 4 minutes until browned. Reduce heat to medium-high: add
onion and garlic; sauté 5 minutes.  Stir in remaining fajita seasoning, corn
next 5 ingredients, and if desired, olives.  Bring mixture to a boil; reduce
heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 5 minutes.  Remove lid, and stir
in nacho cheese soup, chopped cilantro, and lime juice. Garnish, if
desired, and serve with tortilla chips, if desired.

Source: Southern Living