Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Clean Eating Turkey Sausage Ragu

 I saw this recipe when reading Clean Eating Magazine and knew I wanted to try it. I never make my own pasta sauce because it seems so time consuming, but in this case it was definitely worth it (and it didn't take that long)! I love the texture of the these wide egg noodles, also known as pappardelle,  and  the sauce was delicious! We actually had this about a month ago for my dad's birthday dinner because he loves pasta, and Nick has already requested that I make this again soon!
Turkey Sausage Ragu (adapted from Clean Eating Magazine)(Serves: 4)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 8 ounces spicy italian turkey sausage, casings discarded
  • 1/4 tsp chile flakes
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes in juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves, torn
  • 1 large bunch fresh kale, cleaned, stems discarded, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces whole wheat pappardelle (I couldn't find a whole wheat version so I used regular)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for garnish
  1. Add 1 tbsp oil, onion and thyme to a medium pot over medium heat.  Stir to coat, cover and cook until onion is softened and just beginning to color, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.  Uncover pot, add sausage, chile flakes and garlic, and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Off the heat, carefully deglaze by adding wine.  Return to heat and reduce for 1 minute.  Add tomatoes, oregano, and kale.  Stir well, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove cover and continue coking until sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, 10 minutes.  Stir in additional 1 tbsp oil plus vinegar.  Season with salt and black pepper.
  2. When sauce is almost finished cooking, add pasta to large pot filled with boiling salted water and cook until al dente, following package directions.  Drain well and immediately toss with tomato sauce to coat.  Then serve with parmesan cheese shavings.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Muffins

After making these pizzas, I had some leftover ricotta cheese that I wanted to make something with. I debated between several different options, but finally decided on these lemon ricotta muffins by Giada De Laurentis. I made them Sunday morning because Nick's mom was in town for Warner and Colleen's wedding, and we were running low on breakfast options! I tried one later that afternoon, and WOW. I really, really liked them. I was kind of hoping I wouldn't because they aren't particularly healthy, but I couldn't help it- I ate two!

They have such a light and fluffy texture with a mild but delicious flavor! I am not the biggest fan of almond extract because I feel like it can be strong and overpowering, but this is not the case in these muffins. It is very subtle, and I am glad I didn't leave it out or substitute it. I will definitely be making these in the future and probably experimenting with them to come up with a healthier version!

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Muffins (adapted from Giada De Laurentis)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar or more as needed for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced almonds
Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar, butter, and lemon zest in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the ricotta. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended (the batter will be thick and fluffy).
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the almonds and then the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar over the muffins. Bake until the muffins just become pale golden on top, about 18-20 minutes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Grilled Salmon Salad with Halloumi, Asparagus, & Tomatoes

I know the name is long and not exactly creative, but I couldn't come up with anything else! Last week for Mom's birthday dinner, I made this salad because I thought it would meet her criteria for a good meal- it was healthy, pretty, and included some of her favorite foods! I first got the idea when reading this post from Cara's Cravings, but decided to turn it into a meal rather than an appetizer or salad. I thought this was really good and everyone else seemed to agree! I especially love the Halloumi cheese. It has a great salty flavor and has a really high melting point. It just seems crazy to me to watch cheese cook in a skillet and not melt! I don't know how it does it, but it is so good!

Ingredients (Adapted from Cara's Cravings) Serves 4
12 oz grape tomatoes, halved
1 lb asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bag of baby spinach
8 oz. Halloumi cheese, cut in 8 slices
4- 6oz salmon filets
salt and pepper

juice from 2 Meyer lemons (you can substitute regular lemon juice)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons capers
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Turn on grill to warm up.
3. Trim the asparagus by cutting off the tough ends. Place the asparagus and tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil (for easy clean up!). Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and season with freshly ground salt & pepper. Toss to coat. Roast for about 20-25 minutes.
4. Lightly brush salmon with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place salmon and grill for 7-10 minutes (depending on size), flipping half way through cooking.
5.  Whisk together lemon juice, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, capers, pepper and parsley.
6. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cook the Halloumi slices for several minutes on each side, until lightly browned.
7. Divide baby spinach among four plates. Drizzle lemon-caper dressing over spinach. Arrange the asparagus and tomatoes on each plate, and top each with salmon and two slices of the Halloumi.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chocolate Spice Cookies

I first made these cookies almost 2 years ago, but then I lost the recipe and could not remember where I initially got it. I searched and searched but could not remember! Thankfully, I had made these when Nick's mom and Aunt Frankye came to visit us, and they had asked for the recipe. So, after much searching, they came to the rescue and were able to give it back to me :)

I like these because they are really unique. They have a deep chocolate flavor and complexity from the cinnamon, nutmeg, and chipotle . They also have a great texture- slightly crispy on the edge, but chewy and almost brownie-like on the inside.

Ingredients: (makes about 3 dozen cookies)

2 cups all pupose flour
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 12oz pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups pecans, roughly chopped and toasted

Cinnamon sugar for coating:
1/2 granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and
spices together in a medium bowl.

In a separate large bowl, cream butter with sugars, honey and vanilla
extract.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Slowly incorporate dry mixture
into batter.  Stir in pecans and chocolate chips.

Chill batter in refrigerator for about 15 mintures.  Roll into
tablespoon-sized balls and coat each with cinnamon sugar
mixture, then place on cookie sheets that are greased or lined with
parchment or silpat.  Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until outer
surface begins to crack.  Place unused raw batter back in refrigerator
between batches.  Cool cookies on a wire rack before storing. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tortilla Pizza

I love thin crust pizza! Not only is it healthier than the thicker crusts, it has a delicious crispy crunch to it! This recipe is great because it comes together so quickly that you can easily make it even on the busiest of week nights! We made a pizza for each of us and learned that if you put too much pesto and cheese, the crust will not bake up as crispy (or maybe you would just have to bake it longer...). Anyway, below are the amounts that I thought worked best!

Ingredients: (for 1 pizza)
  • 1 wheat tortilla ( I used Tofuyan Low Carb )
  • 2-3 Tbsp basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • garlic salt
  • salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. 
2. Place tortilla on baking sheet.
3. Spread the pesto over the tortilla in a thin layer (it  probably won't cover whole tortilla but that's ok)
4. Spread the cheese in the same way as the pesto so that the cheese and pesto slightly mix and are spread pretty evenly.
5.  Top cheese with sliced tomatoes.
6. Sprinkle basil, garlic salt, salt, and pepper over pizza.
7. Place pan with pizza in oven and bake for about 10 minutes.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Monster Cookies

Monster cookies are nothing new, but they are cookies that every baker needs to have in their collection because they are always a favorite. They are packed with peanut butter, m&ms, chocolate chips, and whatever else you want to put in them! The adaptability of this recipe is one of the great things about it. This time I added butterscotch chips, but you could also add peanut butter chips, raisins, toffee bits, nuts, etc! I went with a recipe that used all oats rather than a combination of oats and flour because I love the chewy texture the oats lend to the cookie. Also, the bright colors of the m&ms make them perfect for birthdays.... HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY FRIENDS, MEGGO AND LIZ! 
 There are a million recipes for monster cookies, but I started with one from All Recipes and then made a few changes, which are shown below. Also, it made about 60 cookies so be ready to share :)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 4 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup m&ms
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a very large bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Then add the eggs and vanilla and beat well to incorporate.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, mixing well.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop to put on ungreased cookie sheet. My ice cream scoop was pretty small and I baked them for about 12-13. They may not look quite done, but you want to take them out before the look completely done or else they will become hard once they cool. Leave them on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes to let them set. Then move to a cooling rack.