Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal with Apples and Pecans

Again I am getting almost to the point of needing groceries, therefore I have been scrounging about my freezer for bits and pieces to add to recipes. Last night I found some frozen pumpkin puree I had saved from a previous recipe. I happen to love pumpkin and those types of foods that have similar flavor profiles like butternut squash and sweet potatoes. I didn't want to take the time to bake pumpkin muffins, but I wanted something pumpkin-y for breakfast. Oatmeal was the answer to that question so I googled recipes for pumpkin oatmeal. I found an interesting one from the Food Network website that way by Aarti Sequeira. I had never prepared any of her recipes before but I have seen her shows a couple of times and enjoyed it. I think I liked her because her style of cooking was unique. I love Indian cuisine and she was one of the few people who would regularly prepare it on Food Network. Anyway, I used her recipe as a springboard for a pumpkin oatmeal for one person. Of course I changed the proportions but also I changed some of the methods to suit my taste. For instance, I like to dissolve my sweetener in the boiling liquid instead of just adding it to the finished product because I think it gets into the grains of the oatmeal better so overall you have to use less sweetener. I also used apple instead of raisins, mainly because raisins are calorie-dense and I wanted to use a fruit that was a little less calories. Besides, I didn't have any raisins in the cupboard. Also, I used pecans instead of pumpkin seeds because I thought their mild maple flavor would go well with the maple syrup.

I have to say this reminded me so much of my grandma's pumpkin pie because it was silky and creamy, however it was nicely punctuated by the crunchiness of the pecans and apple, which also added some tartness. Good breakfast.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal with Apples and Pecans
Printable Recipe

1/3 cup pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup low-fat milk (ie: 1%, soy, or almond milk)
1/2 cup water
small pinch salt
1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup finely diced apple (about 1 small apple or half and medium apple)
1 tbsp chopped pecans

1. In a small saucepan combine all the ingredients through the maple syrup and blend well.
2. Heat the pumpkin mixture over high heat until boiling; stir in the oatmeal. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer.
3. Cook the oatmeal until it reaches your desired level of thickness. For me it was about 5 minutes because I prefer my oatmeal to be on the liquid-y side.
4. Pour the oatmeal in a cereal bowl and top with the apple and pecans.

  • Servings per recipe: 1
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 371.2
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Saturated fat: 1.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 6.1 mg
  • Sodium: 216.4 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 63.3 g
  • Fiber: 9.9 g
  • Sugars: 22.2 g
  • Protein: 11.2 g

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spicy Tofu and Vegetables

I have practiced vegetarianism from time to time in my life, and because of that I developed a taste for tofu. Even if you aren't a vegetarian, you can still see the virtue in those little beige cubes. It's a low-fat and an inexpensive source of protein that takes on nearly any flavor you wish, so it's a blank canvas. It's easy to prepare as well. I tend to stick to stir-fries whenever I prepare tofu, so I also get the added bonus of a huge portion of vegetables with my meal.

Here is a stir-fry that incorporates some of my most favorite vegetables. Of course you can substitute any vegetables you want, but I suggest using ones with various colors to keep it looking interesting and to provide a variety of nutrients. The method for preparing the tofu keeps it from being bland. I served this with a wild rice pilaf instead of just plain rice, which not only tasted good but looked pretty too.

Spicy Tofu and Vegetables
Printable Recipe

1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
pinch dried red chili flakes 
1 tbsp sugar
1 12-oz package firm tofu, drained, rinsed, and cut into 3/4"x3/4"-cubes
1 1/2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 broccoli crown, cut into florets
1 carrot, julienned
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
10 oz button mushrooms, sliced

1. In a small bowl, blend the broth, cornstarch, soy sauce, chili, and sugar. Add the tofu and marinade at room temperature for 15 minutes. (Meanwhile, you can chop the vegetables)
2. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the tofu from the marinade, allowing the excess to drain off; reserve the marinade. Place the tofu in the pre-heated pan and saute until lightly crisp and browned on the outside; remove to a plate.
3. Add the remaining oil to the skillet, then add in the garlic, scallions, and ginger. Stir-fry just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
4. Add the rest of the vegetables to the skillet and cook until the broccoli is crisp-tender. Add the tofu back to the skillet along with the reserved marinade and continue to stir-fry until the sauce begins to boil and thicken. Serve immediately, with rice or rice noodles.

  • Servings per recipe: 4
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 206.6
  • Fat: 13.2 g
  • Saturated fat:1.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 426.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 23.2 g
  • Fiber: 8.4 g
  • Sugar: 6.2 g
  • Protein: 19.6 g

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rosemary Pork Loin Chops with Sweet and Sour Red Wine Sauce

Since moving to Texas I have become slightly obsessed with barbeque. It's to the point that I now consider what was once my favorite cuisine, Italian, to be demoted and replaced with barbeque. Seeing as I am very proud of my Italian heritage, I found this revelation quite disturbing. However, I've recently been able to reconcile this trade-in of cuisine favorites thanks to an episode of Primal Grill on PBS. The host, Steven Raichlen, was of course grilling outdoors but preparing Italian cuisine. Specifically, he was making grilled foods of Tuscany, a part of Italy famous for roasted/grilled meat dishes such as bistecca alla fiorentina. He grilled pork chops large enough to please Fred Flinstone and dressed them with a grilled onion-balsamic reduction. I ratified his methods to be appropriate for indoor cooking. I simplified the sauce and used a more readily available cut of pork. Balsamic vinegar and rosemary (one of my favorite flavor combinations) complimented the meat. I also love juxtaposition of flavors, which is why I was attracted to this sweet-and-sour sauce in the first place. I loved how the sauce stained the outside of the meat a dark rose color. This makes such an elegant-looking dinner as well.

I'm glad I haven't totally abandoned Italian cuisine, I've just adopted new methodologies.

Rosemary Pork Loin Chops with Sweet and Sour Red Wine Sauce
Printable Recipe

1 lb pork loin chops (4-6), about 1-inch thick
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1/2 cup dry red wine (I used Zinfandel)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup wildflower honey
2 tbsp water
2 tsp light olive oil (ie: not extra virgin)
coarse kosher salt and coarse black pepper, to taste

1. In a large, lidded skillet, heated over medium-high heat, add the oil.
2. While the oil warms, massage the rosemary and some salt and pepper into the meat.
3. Add the meat to the hot skillet and thoroughly sear on both sides; remove the seared meat to a plate (note: it does not have to be cooked all the way through as it will be finished in the reducing sauce).
4. Immediately pour in the wine, vinegar, honey, and water. Scrape up the fond (the little browned bits), off the bottom of the pan. Allow the sauce to begin to simmer and season with a little pinch of salt and pepper (note: as the sauce is reducing, the saltiness will increase so don't add too much at this point).
5. Add the pork chops back to the skillet and place the lid on part of the way so the meat will cook while the sauce reduces. Cook until the meat is opaque and no longer pink and the sauce has reduced to a thick syrup. Taste the sauce to see if it needs more salt and pepper, then serve the meat drizzled with a little extra sauce.

  • Servings per recipe: 4
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 335.9
  • Fat: 14.6 g
  • Saturated fat: 4.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 65.8 mg
  • Sodium: 100.1 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 22 g
  • Fiber: 0.1 g
  • Sugar: 21.4 g
  • Protein: 23.3 g
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