Recent Recipes

Solid as a Rocco (Veggie Lasagna)

Comments (1) | Monday, April 26, 2010

As I have mentioned before, having this blog really encourages me to think outside the box and come up with more creative meal solutions than I have in the past.  I mean, I can't keep publishing the same recipes over and over again, right?  So, in an effort to expand my horizons, I went only Amazon and added to my cookbook collection.  While I did stock up on the newest Gourmet cookbook, I also added Now Eat This! by Rocco DiSpirito.  The concept is that all meals are under 350 calories, so naturally I had my doubts.  No butter?  No full-fat cheese?  No white bread?  This cookbook went against ever fiber of my being.  But, hey, what did I have do lose but I few lbs?  And if anyone could pull off good tasting, low cal meals, it had to be a James Beard award-winning chef, right?

My first selection was the chicken cordon bleu...I know, I know...I should have known better.  Matt and my Dad both liked it well enough, but I was disappointed.  Low fat ham and low-fat swiss combined for a combination that I felt was bland and uninviting.

But then Night 2 came along...I chose the Zucchini and Eggplant Vegetable Lasagna.  Holy amaze-balls!  This recipe was awesome!  Naturally, I made a few tweaks, but none that added too many calories and came out with a product that I will be happy to make and proud to serve...it's crazy good!

Zucchini & Eggplant Vegetable Lasagna (adapted from Now Eat This! by Rocco DiSpirito)
1 large eggplant, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into long, thin strips (1/4" thick)
3-4 large portobello mushrooms, sliced thin
3 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into long, this strips (1/4" thick)
salt & pepper
nonstick olive oil spray
1 1/4 c. nonfat ricotta
garlic powder
crushed red pepper
Italian Seasoning
3/4 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 c. low-fat marinara
1-2 c. (or so) reduced fat mozzarella
1 lb. ground turkey

  • Preheat the broiler on high.  Line 3 baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray them with olive oil spray
  • Lay the eggplant slices, in a single layer, on one of the baking sheets.  Lay the mushrooms on the second, and zucchini slices on the third.  Season the veggies with S&P to taste and spray them lightly with olive oil spray.  Broil each sheet of veggies until they are slightly browned and mostly tender - 5-7 minutes.  Set aside.
  • Preheat over to 450.  Spray 9x13 in. baking dish with olive oil spray - set aside.
  • Brown the ground turkey in a frying pan.  Season with S&P to taste.  Drain & set aside.
  • In a bowl, combine ricotta & half of parmigiano-reggiano cheese.  Season with garlic powder, Italian seasoning and S&P, to taste.
  • Spread 1/4 of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Lay the roasted zucchini on the top of the sauce.Spread 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over zucchini.  Top with 1/3 of the ground turkey and a thin layer of mozz. Repeat the process with the portobello slices, sauce, ricotta, turkey and mozz. Top the entire lasagna with remaining sauce, mozz and parmigiano-reggiano.
  • Cover the dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Uncover, and continue to bake until the cheese begins to brown, another 10 minutes.  Let lasagna rest for about 5 minutes.
  1. I would recommend peeling the eggplant and preparing it earlier in the day or night before.  Layer the eggplant on a baking sheet and sprinkle generously with salt - this will remove the excess water for the eggplant.  While the flavore of this lasagna was awesome, it was runny.  Removing the excess water will help.
  2. Place a baking sheet on the rack below the lasagna while baking.  The pan will overflow and drip onto the bottom of the oven.
I can't even tell you how good this lasagna was...actually, I can.  My dad, Mr. Meat and Potatoes, Mr. Traditional food only, loved it!  And, I am so confident in it that I am making it for my in-laws next week...and she's off-the-boat Italian!  I will let you know how it goes!!!!

Ahhh...food therapy complete.

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Kiss My Grits (with Shrimp)

Comments (0) | Monday, April 12, 2010

As a girl growing up in the Northeast, I never really embraced the Southern breakfast staple...grits. As a matter of fact, for most of my life I found them rather tasteless and boring...not to mention, the texture of paste. With all of that said, Matt was rather surprised when I ordered Shrimp & Grits for brunch at Hattie's in Dallas.

I don't know what it was, but when I saw them on the table next to me, I was captivated. It was not long before I realized that I had lived my previous 28 years in the dark. I was missing out on a decadent, silky, corn-based food that when topped with shrimp became a delicacy. Seriously...it was amazing. So amazing that I wanted it again and again. I had to replicate it...with some twists of course.

I first made this recipe over a year ago but recently brushed it off to see if it was as good as I remember...it was. It was awesome. It is a little timely to put together, but well worth the wait.

Shrimp & Grits (well...Risotto)

  • 1 lb large shrimp - peeled and deveined
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 2 cloves garlic - smashed
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 5-6 shakes Tabasco
  • 2 c. chicken stock

Saute first 4 ingredients in butter over medium heat. When soft, add tomatoes, Italian seasoning, Tabasco & chicken stock to sauce pan. Reduce by half. When reduced, spoon half of the mixture into food processor and add back. Add shrimp 5-7 minutes prior to serving. Serve over parmesan risotto.

Parmesan Risotto

  • 3 to 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer and keep warm over low heat. In a separate medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until it is well coated with the butter and starts to turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer gently until all the liquid is absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes. Ladle 1/2 cup of the warm broth into the rice mixture and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth is absorbed. Repeat, adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time, until the rice is cooked through but still firm, 20 to 25 minutes total. Add the remaining butter and the salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Stir to incorporate. Adjust seasoning with more salt to taste. Serve immediately, topping with additional Parmesan.

The flavor that comes together in this sauce is so full and well rounded. It has just a touch of heat making it even more interesting. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do!

Ahhh...food therapy complete.

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What's Your Beef?! (stuffed with cheese)

Comments (0) | Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cheeseburgers are the all American food. I mean, what is better than a warm night and a burger right off the grill? But I find that burgers can be boring...ground beef (or turkey), mixed with a few spices and put on a bun. Anyone who has read my blog can realize that while I do like traditional food, I yearn to put a creative spin on things. Some things are not meant to be adapted, like a good Filet Mignon, but come on people, ground beef is not filet.

I know that I have a tendency to over-explore the fridge (is 8 times a day excessive?), but sometimes opening that door leads to brilliance. OK, maybe not brilliance but good ideas for sure. This one was awesome. Matt and I both loved it and kept wanting to eat more. I will definitely make this one again...let me know what you think!

Italian Style Stuffed Cheeseburgers
1 lb ground beef (85/15)
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1-2 pinches crushed red pepper
4-5 balls of marinated mozzarella cheese (small size)
6 slices American cheese (or provolone)

Preheat grill to medium. Mix everything except mozzarella in a bowl until well incorporated. Split meat into 6 even pieces - set aside 3 and make 3 into thin patties. Cut the mozzarella in thin slices. Place 3-4 slices on the patties. Make the remaining beef into 3 more patties. Place on top of the mozzarella topped patties. Pinch the sides together until well sealed. Grill for 5-6 minutes a side for medium - add cheese on top during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Serve on toasted buns (English muffins are awesome too!). Top with basil mayo (recipe below) and toppings of your choice.

Sometimes the best way to make something unique with one simple addition. This basil mayo is quick, easy and so yummy! The combo of the ground beef, Italian seasoning and fresh basil mayo really takes it all to the next level.

Basil Mayo
1/3 c. mayo (use something good like Hellman's)
10-12 leaves of fresh basil
1 tsp. of the oil from the marinated mozzarella (this is a great way to add tons of flavor - there are so many spices to take advantage of!)
fresh pepper

Place all ingredients in mini food processor and pulse until well incorporated. Add pepper to taste.

By the way, the Cuisinart mini-prep is the best! It's inexpensive and perfect for dips, aiolis, salad dressings, etc. I love it!

Usually I use large tomatoes on the vine for my Caprese salad, but I used some heirloom cherry tomatoes (leftover from Easter), marinated mozzarella and basil and it really made the salad great.

Tomato Mozzarella Salad
Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes (cut in half)
Marinated Mozzarella Balls (cut in quarters)
2 Tbsp. oil from the marinated mozzarella
6-8 basil leaves (sliced thin)
Salt & Pepper

I definitely carried the Italian theme throughout this meal but even with the same ingredients across courses, it all worked. I said it before and I will say it again...I will definitely make this combo again. So good!

Ahhhh...food therapy complete....

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I'd Like Some Beer with my Chicken

Comments (2) | Monday, April 5, 2010

Sorry for the lapse in posting. The week leading up to Easter has been jam packed! Between work, errands, golf and meeting Giada, I have been a busy girl!

Yep, when I say Giada, I mean Giada DiLaurentiis. Vicki and I waited in line for 2 1/2 hours to get our copy of her newest cook book signed, along with 1,856 soccer moms. I swear, there were more strollers in that line than cowboys is Texas...it was unbelievable. But, all in all it was worth it. I gave her a "business card" with my blog info on it and got to talk to her about it for a quick 7 seconds. I am convinced that she was super impressed and will become a follower and take my blog to the next level. :) As Mark says, next thing you know we will be getting movie offers and making millions...oh wait...they have already done that...whomp, whomp...

Well, despite the fact that I am sure that my blog will be limited to likes of my closest friends and family, I am still committed to providing recipes that taste great. Tonight was beer can chicken, salad and left-over twice baked potatoes from Easter. For anyone that knows me, serving leftovers is a big step for me...I hate them. I insist on putting them all in pretty little plastic boxes with blue lids, but I still hate them. I never eat them and usually wait 5-7 days before I purge them into the big silver box. But tonight the fridge was looking bare and they made a fab accompaniment to my meal.

Beer Can Chicken
1 - 5-6 lb. roaster chicken
1 can beer
1 tsp. truffle oil
1 tbsp. Montreal Seasoning
1 tbsp. garlic powder

Preheat 1-side of the grill on med-high. You only need 1/2 a can of beer for this recipe. I don't care what you do with it, but "get rid" of 1/2. I used a beer that I drink (Miller Lite) but people say that the more flavor the more flavor the beer, the better. Add truffle oil, Montreal, garlic and pepper to beer. Coat chicken with the same ingredients. Remove giblets from roast. Place roast on can. (see photo). Place chicken on grill in indirect heat (opposite of flame). Let cook for 1 1/2 - 2 hrs. or until 165 degrees. Let sit for 5-10 minutes and serve.

You have so much flexibility with this recipe. Try a different beer, try a different rub/spice mix. You can cook on the grill or cook in the oven on 375. Just have fun and use the technique...you can do anything and the chicken will be great!!!

Twice Baked Potatoes (these were leftovers from Easter dinner but a recipe worth sharing...totally amazing!)

5-6 baking potatoes
1 block cream cheese
1 block medium cheddar cheese (shredded)
1 lb. bacon - diced and browned over medium-high head (reserve grease)
1 bunch green onions
garlic powder

Bake potatoes on 400 for 45 mins-1 hr. Pinch fore doneness - should be tender to squeeze. Cut potatoes in half and scoop out insides. Try to keep skins intact as much as possible. Add to large mixing bowl. Add cream cheese, cheddar cheese and bacon (including drippings), green onions and salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Mix well. When fully incorporated spoon mixture back into left over baked potato skins. Return to 375 degree oven for 25 mins (if still warm) and up to 1 hr if directly from fridge. You can make these 1-2 days ahead and bake when ready to serve.

This dinner was a great change. With this fabulous weather, we were able to sit outside and hang out while dinner cooked...a welcome change from the standard kitchen. I encourage anyone to try this recipe...so yummy and super easy....just make sure to leave yourself the time.

ahhh...food therapy complete.

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