Sunday, April 15, 2012

Greek Couscous Salad Topped with Goat Cheese

This is a recipe I adapted from one I found online since I love trying culturally diverse foods and am borderline obsessed with couscous.  This recipe makes a huge batch, which makes it even more perfect for having leftovers for lunches to take to work.  And as if it needs another selling point, this couscous salad has no meat involved, just good whole grains and veggies.

You'll need:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups whole grain Israeli couscous
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can chickpeas
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup goat cheese
Sliced kalamata olives

Pour two tablespoons of olive oil into the water and bring to a boil.  Pour in the couscous and the lemon juice.  Cover and cook on low, stirring often until all of the water is absorbed.  Transfer the couscous to a mixing bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Mix thoroughly and garnish with olives and feta cheese.  The salad can be served warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Two Recipes for Faux "Mac and Cheese" That Are a Must Try

I think most of us enjoyed Mac and Cheese as kids and somehow, it carries over into adulthood.  Since I love sampling new ingredients, I planned to revamp Mac and Cheese and make it an entire meal in a bowl.  For one recipe I used Organic Quinoa and for the other I used Israeli Whole Wheat Couscous.  Both were delicious in their own ways and will be cooked again and again.
Quinoa "Mac and Cheese" with Spinach
Quinoa "Mac and Cheese" with Spinach

You'll need:
  •  1 cup Organic Quinoa
  •  2 cups spinach leaves
  •  1 tbsp. olive oil
  •  3 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  •  1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Bring a pan of lightly salted water to a boil.  After rinsing the cup of quinoa in cold water, place into the boiling water.  Allow to boil for about 20 minutes, or until it is rice-like in texture.  Drain the water off and set aside to cool.  In a separate pan, combine the olive oil, spinach, and garlic, allowing the spinach to wilt down.  Add the quinoa to the pan, along with the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses.  This dish will serve 3-4 people, depending on serving size.  I served the quinoa as a side with a main course of salmon, but it could also serve as a meal on its own.

Creamy Couscous and Broccoli

Creamy Couscous and Broccoli

You'll need:
  •  1 cup Israeli Whole Wheat Couscous (can be found near the rice at the grocery store)
  •  1 1/4 cup cold water
  •  2 heads of broccoli, chopped into florets
  •  1 tbsp. garlic salt
  •  1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 4 oz. Neufchatel cheese
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
I used my rice cooker to cook this entire meal, but it could also be done in two separate pots if you do not have a rice cooker/ steamer.  First, bring 1 1/4 cup of water to a boil.  Add the couscous and allow it to boil for about 12 minutes, or until the water is cooked away.  Set the couscous aside.  Place broccoli florets, garlic salt, and onion powder into a pan with about a cup of water.  Cover and allow all the water to steam off.  Place the couscous into the pan with the broccoli, add Neufchatel cheese and cheddar cheese.  Stir until the cheeses are melted.  This recipe serves 4-6, depending on serving size.  It also reheats very well.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Black Bean Tostadas, Shrimp Tampico Style

This recipe is perhaps my favorite because it reminds me of living on my own for the first time in college.  These tostadas were the equivalent of the Ramen noodles that some people survive on.  Plus, when I made them back then, I didn't put meat on them, so for the poor girl working two unpaid internships, they were a staple.  My grown up version adds shrimp and we make them all the time.

You'll need:
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of Rotel with green chilies, drained
1 can low sodium black beans, drained
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
shrimp, peeled and deveined
5 tortillas (we use Mission Carb Balance)
olive oil

After chopping the onion, jalapeno, and garlic, place them in a skillet with a little olive oil over medium high heat.  If you are using shrimp, you can add them at this time too.  Allow the onion to soften.  Make sure the Rotel and black beans are completely drained before adding them to the skillet.  Lower the heat and allow to warm all the way through. In the meantime, brush each side of the tortillas with olive oil and place in a 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes, flipping them halfway through.  Once they are crisp and lightly browned,  remove them and allow to cool.  Top with the black bean mixture.  If desired you can add shredded cheese and a lime wedge to garnish.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dad's Birthday Pie: Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Coconut Icebox Pie

Last weekend was Dad's birthday.  Typically, he's a German Chocolate Cake kind of guy, but as we've been enjoying low carb foods, I found this recipe to be a good substitute for him.  It turned out excellent... particularly the toasted coconut crust and didn't last long once the family cut into it.  The next day dad called me and said, "I just ate a fourth of the pie for dinner."  What a compliment!

For the crust you'll need:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
11 ounces of unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup sugar substitute

For the filling you'll need:
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Hershey's Extra Dark 60 percent cacao), finely chopped
1/4 cup sugar substitute

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a food processor, combine the butter, coconut, and sugar substitute until the mixture forms a ball.  Place into a medium size bowl.
In a 9 inch pie plate, press the coconut mixture onto the bottom and up the sides to form crust.
Bake until the center begins to brown, about 15 minutes.  Transfer the crust to a wire rack to cool completely.
Toasted coconut crust
To make the filling, bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan.  Coarsely chop up the chocolate and place in a mixing bowl.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is combined.

Pour into the coconut crust and refrigerate until the pie becomes firm.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Twice Baked Faux-tatoes and Baked Tilapia coated in Panko

Sunday night I made a casserole dish full of twice baked faux-tatoes to go along with baked tilapia coated in Panko crumbs (recipe below).  Needless to say, there were not many leftovers and even my brother, who is a "meat and potatoes" kind of guy, loved the faux-tatoes made with cauliflower.  Several have requested the recipe, so I figured I'd post it here.

You'll need:
1 head of cauliflower
4 oz. Neufchatel cheese
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
1 bundle green onions, chopped finely
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 slices of bacon, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Chop the stem off of the cauliflower and cut into small pieces.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, placing the cauliflower in the pan.  You want the cauliflower to be tender, but not too soft.  Drain well, place into a large mixing bowl, and mash with a potato masher.  Mix in Neufchatel cheese, sour cream, green onions, Parmesan, and 3/4 of the cooked and crumbled bacon.  Spread evenly in an 8 x 8 casserole dish.  Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top and bake 30-35 minutes.  I cooked covered mine for 20 minutes, then removed the cover for 10 to allow the cheese to brown.

Twice Baked Faux-tatoes

The Faux-tatoes are delicious served with Baked Tilapia coated in Panko Crumbs.  To make, you'll need:
 3 Tilapia filets
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup unseasoned Panko Japanese bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. "Slap Ya Mama" cajun seasoning

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a baking pan lightly with cooking spray.  In a shallow dish, combine the melted butter, garlic powder, lemon juice, and cajun seasoning.  Dip each piece of tilapia in the butter mixture then press into the Panko.  Place the Panko covered filets onto the baking pan.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until the fish is flaky.  Garnish with slices of lemon if desired.
Twice Baked Faux-tatoes and Baked Tilapia coated in Panko.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sugar Free Strawberry Cream Pie

The past few years, my family has limited their carb intake, so this is a perfect recipe to accommodate everyone.  It was actually inspired by a friend, who makes a sugar free coconut pie.  The idea that crust can be made using egg whites is just awesome when you are cooking for those with dietary restrictions.

For the crust you will need:
4 eggs (separated, you only need the whites)
1/2 tsp vanilla
6 tsp sugar or sugar substitute
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Beat eggs and vanilla until they are frothy.  Gradually add sugar (substitute) and cream of tartar, beat until stiff.  Put in the bottom of a greased pie plate. Bake at 325 until browned.
The crust will look like this when finished.
For the filling you will need:
1 small package of sugar free strawberry jello
1 pint heavy cream
1 8 oz. package Neufchatel cheese
1/4 cup sugar substitute (6 packets)
1 quart fresh strawberries (sliced)

First, dissolve the jello with 3/4 cup boiling water, then add 1/3 cup cold water.  Allow the jello to sit in the freezer just until it begins to reach the gel form (about 25 minutes).

In a large mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream until it is stiff.  Fold in the Neufchatel cheese and sugar substitute.  Fold in the strawberry jello.  Stir in the strawberries, saving some for the top to garnish if you wish.  Pour the mixture on top of the cooled crust.  Keep the pie refrigerated.
Combining the heavy whipping cream and the Neufchatel cheese.
Add the jello and the strawberries.
Pour the filling over the crust, garnish with remaining strawberries, and keep the pie refrigerated.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tex-Mex Egg Rolls and Cilantro Sauce

Previously, you saw a recipe for lasagna using egg roll wrappers rather than noodles.  This recipe piggybacks on that one, except this time I wanted to actually experiment with making egg rolls.  Unfortunately I didn't have typical ingredients on hand.  I did, however have leftover canned tomatoes and chilies from all my holiday salsa making and the staple of my pantry, black beans.  This recipe also stems from one I saw awhile back for party appetizers.  Nick and I are planning an engagement party that will feature several appetizers and this is a contender.  If you do decide to experiment with this recipe, do take a few extra minutes to make the cilantro dipping sauce... I promise it is worth it.

You'll need:
1 bag of whole grain brown rice
1 roll of Jimmy Dean hot sausage (browned)
1 15 oz. can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 cups shredded Jack Cheese
6 green onions, finely chopped
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 package egg roll wrappers (the package I used had 15 large wrappers.  For appetizers you could use wonton wrappers instead)
1 egg, beaten
Canola oil

Cook the rice according to the package instructions and brown the sausage in a skillet.  In a large bowl, combine the sausage, rice, black beans, tomatoes, cheese, green onions, and taco seasoning.
The filling for the Tex Mex Egg Rolls in my awesome new bowl.
Spoon about 1/3 cup of the mixture onto each egg roll wrapper as shown below.  Fold one corner to the middle, then the corresponding corner, until all corners meet in the middle.  Brush the top with egg and press down to seal the corners.
Putting the egg rolls together.
Pour canola oil into a skillet and allow the egg rolls to heat on each side for a couple of minutes.  You want them to be golden brown and crispy.  Place them on a cooling rack when finished.

For the Creamy Cilantro Sauce that will go perfectly with the egg rolls, pita chips, or tortilla chips, you will need:
2 10 oz. cans of diced tomatoes and chilies
1 8 oz. package of Neufchatel Cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
1 bundle of cilantro
3 cloves garlic, chopped

Place all of the ingredients in the food processor until smooth.  This stuff is the cilantro lovers dream.
Creamy Cilantro Dip
Tex Mex Egg Rolls with Creamy Cilantro Dip