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Archive for September, 2010

Fall…

…is just around the corner, and we couldn’t be more excited!  There is already a bit of crisp-cool in the air, and the days are indeed getting shorter.  The smell of warm apples and cinnamon always remind me of fall, and today, our home is filled with the smells of the season.  We made apple chips as a healthy work snack, and they are so delicious!

For this simple, wholesome snack you need:

  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 4 granny smith apples, thinly sliced

All you need to do is mix the cinnamon and sugar together, then toss the apples in.  The thinner you slice the apples, the better–they crisp up so nicely!

Line a few baking sheets (parchment paper works best, but aluminum is alright) and lay the coated apples out in a single layer.  Bake at 250 for 2 hours, until the slices are nice and crispy.

Absolutely delicious!  These are definitely a snack you can enjoy and feel good about!

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…is so incredibly delicious.  Last week, we made RR’s “two-sauce weeknight lasagna” and it combines besciamella (white sauce) with a delightful meat sauce to make one delicious dinner.

For the lasagna you need:

  • 1 lb. campanelle or fiore pasta
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 lb. pancetta, chopped
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef/elk
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, 2 grated
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-reggiano

Boil some water and salt it for the pasta.  Cook the campanelle to al dente.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high and add the pancetta.  Cook the meat for a couple of minutes, then add in the rest of the meat.  Cook until the meat begins to caramelize, 4-5 minutes, then add the carrot, onion, 2 cloves of garlic, allspice, some salt and pepper, and the bay leaf.  Now, we didn’t have allspice and did not particularly feel like purchasing it, as our spice cabinet is already bursting at the seams!  So, we tossed in a combo of oregano, crushed red pepper, and Italian seasoning.  I believe it worked out quite well!  Cook this mixture for about 3 minutes to soften the veggies, then stir in the tomato paste.  Let the tomato paste cook out for a couple of minutes, then add in the stock and knock the heat back to low.

Meanwhile, take the clove of garlic that isn’t grated and cut it in half.  Rub the sides of a saucepan with the clove.  Add the butter and melt it over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute, then whisk in the milk and bring the mixture to a boil.  Knock the heat back to low and season the besciamella with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Cook the sauce for about 10 minutes, until it is nice and thick.

Toss the cooked pasta with the white sauce and 1/2 cup cheese.

RR also has a delicious salad to serve alongside the pasta:

  • 1 tsp. zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 large head of escarole, chopped
  • 15 oz. can butter beans, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Whisk the oil, lemon zest/juice, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg together.  Toss the dressing with the escarole and beans.  We used romaine instead of escarole.  This is a salad we could eat every day!

serve up a bowl of pasta topped with the meat sauce and sprinkled with cheese and a plate of salad alongside.

YUM!  This lasagna dinner is absolutely fantastic, from the crisp, refreshing salad to the creamy pasta and comes highly recommended!

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…is an excellent addition to chicken salad, I must admit.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that I prefer it to typical mayonnaise!  It’s hard to believe, but subbing reduced-fat cream cheese for mayo can actually be a healthier choice.  I wouldn’t recommend using it on a regular basis, but it is a fairly good substitute on occasion.  We made southwestern chicken salad wraps (found in Reader’s Digest) for lunch this week, and they are delicious.

For four servings of the chicken salad you need:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Monterey jack cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp. green pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. parsley
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • juice/zest of 1 lime
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 flour tortillas

We made a few changes to the recipe so there would be enough salad for the week.  We used 2 cooked chicken breasts and about half a pound of cooked ground turkey along with whole peppers and 8 oz. cream cheese.   We subbed in cilantro for parsley and added the juice and zest of one lime.  I think black beans would also be a great addition for the next time (and there will be a next time!) we make this.

Anyway, simply combine everything but the tortillas in a bowl.

Scoop 3/4 cup salad onto a tortilla and roll it up tightly.  Now, you can either eat the wrap as is, or you can cut the stuffed tortilla into pinwheels.

This chicken salad is quite yummy!  I have certainly been looking forward to lunchtime all this week!

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Chili…

…is typically not a food I want to eat much of in the summertime.  However, Rocco has a recipe for “Super-light Mexican Chili con Carne with Beans” that was irresistible!  And, as the name implies, this chili is super-light (and super delicious!) and perfect for a Summer meal.

For this lighter version of chili you need:

  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 35-oz. can plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 12 oz. ground turkey breast
  • 14 oz. can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Combine the garlic, onion, pepper, tomatoes/juices, chili powder, and cumin.  Bring the mixture to a bubble and season with salt and pepper.  Knock the heat back to low and simmer for about 8 minutes, until the veggies are tender.

Return the heat to high and add the ground turkey, breaking it up as it cooks.  Add the beans and a bit more salt and pepper.  Cover the mixture and bring it to a boil.  Push the heat back to medium-low and simmer until the turkey is cooked through, about 8 minutes (stirring every once in awhile).

Serve up a tasty bowl of chili with cheese sprinkled on top.

This chili is delicious!  We actually had it without the green pepper and it still packed a ton of great flavor.  Of course, as this is Rocco’s recipe, this version of chili also has lots of good nutrition–in addition to the lower calorie count, it has a lot of good fiber and antioxidants.

fat before: 46g                 fat after: 5g

calories before: 977    calories after: 287

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