Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Broccoli, White Bean, and Cheddar Soup

The semester has picked up for me, so I have been hard at work...except for spending the weekend camping in northern Florida. I am no camping expert whatsoever, so this whole weekend was a new experience for me. Of course, the wilds of Florida were beautiful, and we had some good camping fare, with lots of grilled meat and veggies cooked in aluminum foil. As much as I planned on photographing my contributions to meals, somehow it slipped my mind, however I did make tzaziki and some 3-bean salad. Perhaps I'll get around to making those again.

Moving to tonight's dinner, I was focusing on detox from all the meat I ate this weekend, so I found a veggie-ful soup from eatingwell.com. It's basically broccoli cheese soup made healthy because instead of using cream it used white beans to add creaminess. I also made a change by using 2% milk cheese instead of full fat---in a pureed soup, you'll never miss the difference, especially if you get a full-flavored cheese like sharp cheddar. This soup is so good I'm pretty sure you could get your average creamy, fatty broccoli soup fans to convert. Not only is it really creamy and soothing, it's so easy to make. This took me all of 10 minutes since I used pre-shredded cheese and pre-cleaned broccoli that I very sloppily chopped into rough pieces. One other derivation was made because my store didn't have cannellini beans today, so I just got great northern beans---any white bean will do! Another thing I love about this soup is that it has one of my new spice loves in it: white pepper. I don't know how I did without this stuff before! It's warming like black pepper, but not quite as smoky, plus it doesn't leave little black flecks in your food. This was one of Julia Child's favorite spices, as you could see her on her tv program going for the white pepper as much as if not more than black pepper. As always, the Grande Dame was right.

Broccoli, White Bean, and Cheddar Soup

1 14-oz can low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup water
1 lb broccoli, cleaned and cut into chunks (approx: 6 cups)
1 14-oz can white beans, such as cannellini, great northern, navy, or butter beans
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 cup grated 2% milk sharp cheddar cheese

1. Combine the broth and water in a large saucepan over high heat. Once the broth boils, reduce heat to medium and add the broccoli; cover and cook 8 minutes.
2. Remove the lid, then add the beans and allow them to heat through, about 1 minute.
3. Use and immersion blender to blend the soup in the saucepan, or add the soup mixture to the pitcher of a blender (you may have to puree in batches). Puree the soup, being careful because the liquid will be extremely hot. (Tip: remove the center stopper from the lid of your blender, put the lid on the blender and then cover the top with a folded kitchen towel. This will prevent a hot vacuum as you open the blender later.)
4. Finally, add the cheese to the puree and continue to blend until it's all smooth. Serve immediately.

  • Servings per recipe:6
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 153
  • Fat: 4.9 g
  • Saturated fat: 2.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 13 mg
  • Sodium: 457 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 19.6 g
  • Fiber: 6.6 g
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Protein: 13.8 g

Monday, January 11, 2010

Balsamic-Apple Glazed Chicken

Here's another attempt at a quick dinner...it seems like I've started a theme with this post and my last dinner post for fast dinner and balsamic vinegar. Both are good things in my book, however. The point of this chicken is the fact that roasted chicken breast, while healthy, can be really boring so to add some interest I made a simple sauce of balsamic vinegar and apple jelly. This is a sweet sauce, and I'd like to think of it as verging on grown-up barbeque sauce...in fact, it could be a jumping off point for a real barbeque sauce recipe. In case you are curious as to what the chicken is sitting on, I julienned zucchini and sauteed them with mushrooms, garlic, and dried oregano in extra virgin olive oil until all of the veggies were really soft.

Balsamic-Apple Glazed Chicken

2 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 4 chicken breasts)
2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup apple jelly
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray.
2. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and thyme and place it on the pan. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, combine the jelly and vinegar in a small saucepan and melt the mixture over medium-high heat. Season the glaze with salt and pepper.
4. After the 15 minutes are up, turn the chicken and brush it liberally with the glaze. Allow the chicken to cook 15 minutes more, brushing the chicken with more glaze at least two more times until the chicken is cooked through.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 305
Fat: 3 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 132 mg
Sodium: 295 mg
Carbohydrates: 14 g
Fiber: 0 g
Sugar: 9.7 g
Protein: 52 g

My Birthday

My birthday was January 2nd, so it has very much come and gone, however I wanted to share pictures from the evening. My parents and I went to Indianapolis to one of my favorite restaurants, Buca di Beppo, which serves southern Italian cuisine. I have had many birthdays at this restaurant---my 18th, 21st, 24th, and now 25th at least.

For dinner, we had salad and garlic bread---their garlic bread is really good because they actually put thin slices of garlic on top of the bread instead of just using something like garlic powder. The main course was a pasta dish called Penne San Remo, where penne was tossed in a light white wine cream sauce along with chicken, peas, sun dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. It was really good and I'd love to make a knock-off version of my own. Dessert was special because it was a giant cupcake! We'd had a small cheesecake with a red velvet cake base at home for me to have after dinner, but after having so much cake we had to wait until the next day.

Steak with Balsamic Onions

Today was the beginning of the spring semester for me, so it's time to get busy for me again! Here's something I cooked up very quickly thanks to some thin-cut eye of round steaks, which are lean and cook up within a couple of minutes. I cooked them simply with steak seasoning, my favorite being World Market's Argentine Rub. In the same pan, before I started with the steaks I browned up some onions that were finished with a small amount of balsamic vinegar, which becomes sweet as it cooks and helps the onions develop a dark brown color. These steaks are a good choice if you are watching your carbs, and are super easy for any weeknight meal.

Steak with Balsamic Onions

1 large red onion, cut into very thin slices
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 lbs thin-cut eye of round steaks
1 tsp steak seasoning
non-stick cooking spray

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray the pan with cooking spray and add the onions; cook until translucent, then add the vinegar and allow the onions to soften and brown in color.
2. Season the meat on both sides with the steak seasoning. Remove the onions from the pan and place them to the side. Re-spray the pan with cooking spray. Add the meat and cook it for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until the spices and the meat caramelize. These steaks cook very quickly!
3. Serve the steaks with the onions on top.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 291
Fat: 7 g
Saturated fat: 2.5 g
Cholesterol: 94 mg
Sodium: 66 mg
Carbohydrates: 3.5 g
Fiber: 0.6 g
Sugar: 1.6 g
Protein: 50.3 g

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cranberry-Almond Brown Rice Pilaf

Because it's the start of a new year, I know a lot of people have resolutions to eat better. I know that everyones definition of a healthy diet differs dramatically, which is why I do post nutritional information for my recipes calculated to the best of my knowledge in order to let you make healthy decisions on your own. Along with that, I think it would be great to start reporting any interesting facts about weight loss and health. One really interesting fact I learned today was from Ellie Krieger, a Food Network chef and dietitian. She was on Live with Regis and Kelly, and was showing the top 10 "don't's" if you want to lose weight in 2010. The fact that I found most helpful was this: if you count Friday as a weekend day, then one-quarter of your life is the weekend. Therefore, if you "fall off the wagon" over the course of the weekend, you aren't following a healthy lifestyle 75% of the time! It makes me want to make better goals for diet and exercise over the weekend for sure, and not make Monday a "start over" day.

Here's a quick side dish I made the other night to go with my Golden Lemon Roasted Chicken. It's a rice pilaf, but I made it special by adding cranberry chutney, which is both savory and sweet. This recipe is versatile because you could add any flavor of chutney to match whatever dried fruit you have: mango chutney with chopped dried mango, peach chutney with chopped dried peaches, etc...

Cranberry-Almond Brown Rice Pilaf

1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 scallions, sliced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp cranberry chutney
2 cups instant brown rice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
non-stick cooking spray
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the almonds and allow them to toast, stirring constantly. Remove the toasted almonds to the side.
2. Spray the same saucepan with non-stick cooking spray. Add the onion and celery and saute them until they are translucent and tender.
3. Add the broth and chutney and season the liquid to taste with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring it to a boil. Add the rice, toss in the dried cranberries, cover the saucepan and lower the heat to low. Let it cook for 5 minutes, and then take it off the burner for 5 more minutes to continue to steep.
4. Toss the rice with a fork, adding the almonds back in.

Servings per recipe: 6
Per serving:
Calories: 313
Fat: 6 g
Saturated fat: 0.8 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 230 mg
Carbohydrates: 57 g
Fiber: 3.8 g
Sugar: 4.6 g
Protein: 8 g

Golden Lemon Roasted Chicken

I like to make roasted chicken while I'm at home because I know my mom enjoys it. For this roasted chicken, I started with a recipe from a magazine but didn't even end up following it because I just wanted to experiment. Part of this recipe was inspired by my chicken souvlaki marinade, part of it was inspired by middle eastern spices, and the final part of this recipe was the goal of making extremely moist chicken. Because of the sugars from the lemon, the chicken browns beautifully. The lemons char a little bit, giving them a more complex, sweeter flavor. I used my favorite spice twins, coriander and cumin, to make the chicken have a bright flavor. Between the lemon and the Dijon mustard, the pan juices turn a lovely yellow color. I served this chicken with rice pilaf (recipe to come).

And, I'm sorry if the picture of this chicken looks incredibly crooked---for some reason I was having trouble uploading the picture in the direction I wanted it to go and after several tries I really just didn't want to deal with it anymore (I'm incorrigibly impatient)...however, this chicken looks good from any angle, in my opinion.

Golden Lemon Roasted Chicken

2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 5-6 thighs)
1 lemon, cut into 16 mini wedges
5-6 whole cloves garlic, with the skin on
1 onion, cut into thick slices
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sugar
non-stick cooking spray
1/2 tsp paprika

1. In a large bowl or large freezer bag, add all the ingredients (except paprika and cooking spray) and mush them around to coat the chicken. Allow the chicken to marinate all day or even overnight.
2. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a roasting pan with cooking spray and arrange the chicken skin-side up along with the marinade components in the pan. Sprinkle each piece of chicken with paprika. Bake the chicken for 40-45 minutes, or until the juices run clear.
3. Serve the chicken with pan juices and cooked onions.

Per chicken thigh:
Calories: 304
Fat: 11.4 g
Saturated fat: 3.1 g
Cholesterol: 135 mg
Sodium: 147 mg
Carbohydrates: 3.3 g
Fiber:0.6 g
Sugar: 0.9 g
Protein: 44.5 g

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sun Dried Tomato-Basil Turkey Burgers

After a great pasta dish last night for my birthday dinner, I was inspired to combine flavors from the pasta in some turkey burgers we had tonight for dinner. The pasta had sun dried tomatoes, which are sweet and chewy, so I added those to ground turkey, along with basil, which always pairs well with tomatoes. Another flavoring agent that makes these burgers a little more special was a little bit of balsamic vinaigrette, which get sweeter as it cooks. You could make these burgers a lot larger, but I made them the size that was proportionate to the buns we put them on.

Sun Dried Tomato-Basil Turkey Burgers

1.2 lbs ground white meat turkey
1/4 cup chopped dry-packed sun dried tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp prepared light balsamic vinaigrette
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl.
2. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Shape the meat mixture into 6 patties. Cook the patties until they are cooked through. Serve immediately.

Serving per recipe: 6
Per serving:
Calories: 112
Fat: 2.9 g
Saturated fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 39 mg
Sodium: 962 mg
Carbohydrates: 5.3 g
Fiber: 0.7 g
Sugar: 3.3 g
Protein: 15.8 g

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year and Happy Birthday Chow Bella!

Today Chow Bella is one year old! I'm happy to look back on the over 100 recipes I have added to the Internet community, and I'm looking forward to what 2010 will bring. When I started this blog, I wanted a way to not just talk about food but hopefully inspire people to cook. I wanted this blog to focus on health---which is one thing that is difficult to define, because everyone has their own definition to what is healthy and what isn't. Therefore I'm going to keep posting a variety of recipes, including the nutritional information, in the hope that people cook with some information behind their actions. Thank you for stopping by my blog and reading, and I hope you get into the kitchen and have fun. Happy 2010!
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