Sunday, April 24, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

YUM!!! I really have nothing more to say. Dinner was terrific and everything was truly tasty. I am thankful to be able to share refreshment and most especially time with Mom, Dad, and Michael.

Salmon, Baked Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus, and...

Today's dinner is being prepared as I type this. We are having Simple Salmon, one of our favorite Weber Grill recipes, Perfect Baked Potatoes, roasted asparagus, and deviled eggs. Mom made the eggs for us as well as a lemon cake. I also picked up some Kumato and Sunburst tomatoes that we will slice for a fresh taste; I tasted these in the grocery and they were so yummy I thought they would work perfectly with today's dinner.

To roast the asparagus, I put the spears into a casserole, drizzled extra virgin olive oil over them and then sprinkled fresh ground black pepper and coarse kosher salt on top. I baked them for about the last half hour with the potatoes. Before I put them in the casserole I washed them and peeled the bottom third before cutting any woody ends off. I never peeled asparagus before, but Mom has told me about doing this for some time now. I figured I would try it today since the asparagus spears are fairly fat.

It smells really good. I'll let you know how it all turns out after dinner.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

MMMMmmmmm...that was a taste sensation! I ended up not going to the grocery, so I prepared items I found in my pantry. We had the Chickpea Picatta, Couscous with tomato and Parmesean, and green beans with almonds; I also made a Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie from a mix.

The Chickpea Piccata was a little tart, but once we ate it over and mixed with the couscous it was just perfect. I didn't have shallots, so I used a little yellow onion sliced very thin in the piccata. I also didn't have arugula.

For the couscous I followed a recipe on the box - kind of - the recipe called for asparagus and I didn't have any in the house so I just left that ingredient out. Here's the couscous recipe:

Tomato Parmesan Couscous
Serves 3 1/2

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups fat free & reduced sodium chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
1 package Near East couscous toasted pine nut
10 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large plum tomatoes, seeded and diced (I used a can of diced tomatoes that I drained a little)
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook garlic for 2 minutes. Add broth and contents of spice sack. Bring just to a boil. Stir in asparagus. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 1 minute.
2- Stir in Near East couscous; cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.
3- Stir in tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.

It was all very good. And, very easy.

Chickpea Piccata

Today we're going to have "Chickpea Piccata" from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I was looking for a recipe with ingredients I already have at home and this looks like it will work. I'm still going to stop at the grocery, though. I want to make mashed roasted garlic and cauliflower as a side and I don't have any cauliflower. I'll just roast a head of cauliflower and garlic, then mash them as I would if I were making mashed potatoes. I don't yet know what will be for dessert.

Here's the Chickpea Piccata recipe:
Serves 4, 190 calories per serving

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 scant cup thinly slicked shallots
6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
a few pinches of freshly ground black pepper
a generous pinch of dried thyme
1 (16-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup capers with a little brine
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups aruglua

1- Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Saute the shallots and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes, until golden. Add the bread crumbs and toast them by stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. They should turn a few shades darker.
2- Add the vegetable broth, wine, salt, pepper, and thyme. Turn up the heat, bring the mixture to a rolling boil, and let the sauce reduce by half; it should take about 7 minutes.
3- Add the chickpeas and capers and let heat through, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and turn off the heat.
4- If you're serving the piccata with mashed potatoes, place the arugula in a wide bowl. Place the mashed potatoes on top of the arugula and ladle the piccata over the potatoes. The arugula will wilt and it will be lovely. If you are serving the piccata solo, just pour it right over the arugula.
Tip: Bulk it up by adding a thinly sliced portobello to the finished dish.

I don't plan to have arugula with dinner tonight. I'm thinking the piccata, the cauliflower mash, and maybe green beans; that will depend on what looks good at the grocery. Whatever it ends up being, I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

Well, that was FABULOUS! We really like this recipe. Today we had lettuce, avocado, celery, red pepper, carrot, cucumber, grape tomatoes, cannellini beans, fresh pineapple, and tuna. I made the fresh lime juice, fresh minced garlic, black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil dressing; it was quite refreshing.

And, then we had pie! The meringue on the pie was just about mile high! Very, very yummy. Glad we only have this special pie once a year. And, it's a good thing we had salad with that rich pie.

Have a great week. I'll let you know what's for Sunday dinner next week when I figure that out.

Chopped Salad with Tuna

The last time we had this salad was August 29, 2010. It really is one of my favorite salads. Today, Michael is grilling some tuna for us. I have cucumber, avocado, grape tomatoes, celery, and lettuce, as called for in the original South Beach Diet recipe. I don't have radishes because we really aren't that fond of them. I may add carrots, hard-boiled eggs, and cannellini beans and I'm cutting a fresh pineapple that we might add to the salad (or not). Actually what happens is I prepare a whole bunch of ingredients and each person selects what he or she wants on his or her own plate.

Last night was the annual Knight's Brigade Race for the Cure chicken dinner and dance. This event has a huge silent auction and a good size oral auction too. Each year I try to pick up a pie and this year I "won" a lemon meringue pie. That's what we're having for dessert; so it's a good thing we're having salad for dinner!

I'll let you know how it all turns out.

After Dinner Thoughts

So, it was a bit labor intensive what with all the prep work. I personally don't think the artichokes were worth the trouble. Don't get me wrong, they were tasty, but there wasn't much to get from them and it was more difficult to eat than it was worth.

The beets were yummy. This was the first time I ever cooked beets, I always used the beets from a jar in the past. The potatoes and green beans were delicious, as well as fresh tomatoes, the kalamata olives, eggs, etc. I don't think I'll make this exact recipe again, but I will try a Niciose platter again.

The Chocolate-Blueberry cake was pretty tasty, and very pretty!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nicoise Platter

Last Saturday, Cindy (my sister) wanted us to take Mom for pedicures. Of course I said sure! They needed to stop by the veterinarian and a pet store first, so I told them I'd meet them at Borders bookstore; I had a 40% off coupon plus I needed to pick up items for a drawing we are having at the library for National Library Week (April 10 - 16). With my coupon I purchased a couple of cookbooks - imagine that! I picked up 1,001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes and Isa Chandra Moskowwitz's Appetite for Reduction. I really like cookbooks that include complete nutritional information for the recipes, both of these books do that. They both also look like they'll keep me busy for a long time.

For Sunday dinner this week I plan to make Nicoise Platter from the 1,001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes cookbook. Here's the recipe:

Nicoise Platter - serves 4 (424 calories per serving)

12 small red potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), unpeeled, cooked
2 large beets, cooked
12 ounces green beans, ends trimmed, cooked
4 Braised Whole Artichokes (recipe follows)
2-4 hard cooked eggs, halved
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
3 cups mixed salad greens, torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup halved ripe olives
4 teaspoons drained capers
1/2 cup salt-free, fat-free Italian dressing with herbs
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Tofu Aioli (recipe follows)

1- cut potatoes into fourths; peel and slice beets. Arrange with Braised Whole Artichokes, eggs, and tomatoes on greens-lined plates; sprinkle with olives and capers. Drizzle with combined Italian dressing, shallot, and garlic and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Serve with Tofu Aioli.

Braised Whole Artichokes

4 medium artichokes, stems removed
2-4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1- Cut 1 inch from tops of artichokes and discard. Place artichokes in medium saucepan and sprinkle lightly with salt; add 1 inch water to pan. Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until artichokes are tender, about 30 minutes (bottom leaves will pull out easily). Drain. Holding artichokes with a towel, brush bottoms with olive oil; return to saucepan. Cook, uncovered, over medium to medium-low heat until bottoms of artichokes are deeply browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

Tofu Aioli

1/2 package (10 1/2 ounce size) light firm tofu
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon each: tarragon vinegar, lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and white pepper, to taste

1- Process all ingredients, except salt and pepper, in a food processor or blender; season to taste with salt and white pepper. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

This recipe actually has quite a few steps if you consider all the ingredients that are already prepared in the ingredients list. Someone has to prep them too (that will be me). But this just sounds yummy to me. Ms. Moskowitz also has a similar salad in the Appetitie for Reduction cookbook. Hers is called Goddess Nicoise and uses chickpeas in the salad; it is also listed as 250 calories per serving. It looks really good too. I probably should go for the recipe with fewer calories, but I'll try it another time and let you know which I prefer.

So, for tomorrow it's the recipe listed above. I also plan to make the FatFree Vegan Kitchen's Chocolate-Blueberry Cake. I'll let you know how it all turns out!

Oh, and FYI, our pedicures were great - even if we had to walk out in flip flops into a snowstorm! Boy, was that a surprise.