Saturday, February 23, 2013

Very Veggie Pizza

As part of our ongoing journey to eat healthier, we are forgoing our usual Friday night pizza and switching it up to a Veggies Only pizza. So far, our favorite one for take out is the thin crust vegetarian from Pizza Hut. However, this one, that I made, has been the overall favorite. It hardly qualifies as cooking, more like assembling, so easy to do on a Friday night.

It was super simple to do! We bought a pre-made, thin pizza crust from the supermarket. First, I spread 2 T. pizza sauce over the crust and sprinkled that with 2 T. low-fat mozzarella cheese. Then I topped it with a clamshell of cherry tomatoes, cut in half, some sliced  red onions, a roasted red pepper from a jar, 1/2 a green pepper, and a can of sliced mushrooms. All good for you, right? Then I measured out 2 ounces of feta cheese and crumbled that over the top of the veggies. We baked it according to the directions on the crust, making sure not to overcook it. Using no meat and controlling the amount of cheese is the key to keeping this pizza "healthy" and good for you. I had put so many vegetables on it that we did not miss the cheese. Additionally, we limited our servings to two slices each, but they were so loaded down, that was plenty. Quick, healthy and delicious.

Another favorite way is to make my own crust (recipe here), top it with a little pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese, then pile on lots of peppers -- fresh green, roasted red, drained banana ones from the jar, and a few sliced olives. Not quite as low fat, but very, very tasty!
Lot of Peppers Pizza with Olives
Go veggie with your pizzas! They are really really good!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thai Chicken Skewers With Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Ok, here I am, a little out of my comfort zone -- Thai Chicken Skewers with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce, Potstickers and Snow Peas. I've gotta' confess -- I'd never cooked Snow Peas before and a I'd never even tasted a spicy peanut dipping sauce! That being said, it turned out well! After all, we KNOW that EVERYTHING Tastes Better when it's cooked on a stick, right? As we continue our quest to eat seriously healthy, we've got to mix it up, or we'll get bored, and that's never a good thing.
Thai Chicken Skewers with Potstickers and Snow Peas

First, I marinated the chicken breasts about 30 minutes before I skewered them. I mixed up the dipping sauce too, so the flavors would have a little time to meld. This is a lighter take on peanut sauce, cutting down on fat and calories by using some non-fat greek yogurt, instead of all peanut butter. While the chicken skewers were grilling, I cooked the Pot Stickers Straight from Trader Joe's! (Here's an earlier post about that store) and steamed the snow peas quickly when the chicken came off the grill. This meal took less than an hour, start to finish, including the time the chicken was marinating. It was easy, quick and tasted great AND it's healthy eating! Bring on the skewers and fire up the grill, it's a keeper! This would also be good served with some fresh veggie rolls that you can make or buy at the market. As an added bonus, if you should have any leftover chicken, you can create wonderful wraps for lunch with it. Try shredding up some cabbage, add a little hoisin sauce and wrap it up.

Thai Chicken Skewers
1 boneless chicken breast for every person, cut into large bite sized chunks
3 T. soy sauce
juice of 1/2 lime
1 T. fish sauce
1 heaping tsp. brown sugar
1 T. rice wine vinegar
This is enough marinade for 1 - 2 breasts. Whisk everything together and pour over your chicken. Let sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Preheat the grill and when it's hot, thread the chicken on to skewers. If using bamboo, be sure to soak them first.
While the chicken is marinating, make the Dipping Sauce.
Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
3 T. plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1 rounded T. smooth peanut butter
juice of half a lime
2 - 3 T. rice wine vinegar
zest of 1/2 lime
a pinch of dried hot pepper flakes (big pinch if you like it spicy)
1 T. minced fresh cilantro (optional, but we like it)
1 scallion, white and green parts, thinly sliced
Whisk together the yogurt, peanut butter, lime juice, vingar and zest. Stir in the hot peppers, cilantro and scallion. Let this sit for awhile so that the flavors have a chance to meld.
Prepare your potstickers according to the package directions. Make them from scratch if you want, but I promise, the ones from Trader Joe's are pretty darn good! Steam your snow peas briefly while the chicken is resting. Drain them, add a pinch of butter or soy sauce and salt very lightly.
Grill your chicken skewers 6 minutes on each side. Let them rest and remove from the skewers.
Steam your snow peas briefly while the chicken is resting. Drain them, add a pinch of butter or sesame oil or soy sauce. If you don't use the soy, salt them very lightly.
Voila! Easy, huh? Good too!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Portobello Mushrooms: Take Two

Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Crunchy Winter Salad

We're trying to eat seriously's a challenge at our house. I love to cook and my husband loves to eat. Well, that's not exactly fair, since I love to cook and eat. As part of our quest to eat healthier, last  night I made Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Crunchy Winter Salad, and it was delicious as well as being seriously healthy!   (
Here's my other portobello recipe ) And, here's the best part,  everything I made took me about 30 minutes AND it was pretty economical. Make your salad and set it aside, then start with the stuffing and cooking up the mushrooms. They were really, really good, even my meat loving husband thought so. He admitted to being full, in spite of no potatoes, no real dressing on the salad and LOTS of veggies. Score!

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
2 portobello mushrooms
olive oil and balsamic vinegar
1 tsp butter
1 medium onion, sliced
2 - 3 cloves of minced garlic
2 handfuls fresh spinach
1 link turkey Italian sausage**
1 slice Alpine Lace reduced fat Swiss Cheese
1 roasted red pepper, cut in half (from a jar is fine)
2 burger buns, your favorite, I recommend whole grain or "white/wheat"
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
First prepare your stuffing: In a small non-stick frying pan, melt the butter with a few drops of olive oil. Add the sliced onion and cook until lightly browned but still slightly firm. Remove the onion to a bowl. Slit the casing of the sausage with a sharp knife and push out the meat into the same frying pan (discard the casing). Cook over medium, stirring and breaking up the meat, until the sausage is crumbled and brown. Add the garlic, and the onions to the pan along with the spinach. Sprinkle with a little Kosher salt and fresh pepper, stirring to incorporate the spinach. Cook for 1 minute. Cover and set aside. The heat will continue to wilt the spinach.
Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel. Using a spoon, remove the stems and most of the gills from them. A spoon works well for removing the gills. 
Preheat a grill pan over medium high heat. Brush the mushroom caps with a little olive oil. Put them on the grill and cover them loosely. Cook 5 minutes on each side, watching them so they don't burn. Use a sturdy spatula for this, so the mushrooms remain whole. You can press them down slightly so that they maintain good contact with the pan, but don't break them if you help it.
Place the mushrooms on a cookie sheet or baking pan and fill them with the sausage/onion/spinach mixture. Place 1/2 of roasted red pepper on top of each one. Put them into the oven for 5 - 7 minutes. Add 1/2 slice of the cheese to each mushroom during the last minute of cooking. While the stuffing heats through,, grill the buns in the same pan you used to cook the mushrooms, over medium to high heat. You kind of want to toast them a bit. Press them down gently with the back of the spatula so that they crisp up and get sturdy -- the mushrooms are heavy and juicy!  Top the toasted roll with your stuffed mushroom. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar. Serve with Crunchy Winter Salad, recipe below! Enjoy!!

**Cooks Note: To make this meal totally vegetarian and even healthier, eliminate the turkey sausage from the stuffing and crumble in some tofu or the veggie sausage crumbles that you find in the freezer section of the grocery store. OR add more spinach or some sauted, finely chopped zucchini.  I bet it would still be yummy. DON'T eliminate the balsamic vinegar, though, it really makes a difference!

Crunchy Winter Salad
1 small Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, washed, halved and chopped
1 small carrot or 2 baby carrots, grated
1 ring canned pineapple, cut into small pieces (get the kind packed in it's own juice, not syrup)
1 - 2 thin slices red or purple onion, cut into small pieces
zest from 1/2 a lemon
1 oz. coarsely chopped walnuts
1 T. pineapple juice (from the can is fine)
1 tsp. lemon juice
Mix all the above together in a bowl. Serve it over:
2 handfuls washed and chopped romaine lettuce
2 handfuls washed and stemmed spinach, torn up a little
This salad is crunchy and really, really good! Any kind of nuts would probably work, but I was thinking along the lines of a Waldorf salad, sorta' deconstructed!