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Monday, September 29, 2008

black bean pasta salad

I love pasta salad, and I think the addition of black beans really makes it heartier and healthier. I usually use whole wheat pasta or enriched pasta (Ronzoni Healthy Harvest or Ronzoni smart taste are the best).

Black Bean Pasta Salad

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 jalepeno, chopped (seeds and all...leave seeds out if you are fraid)
2 T red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/3 C chopped cilantro
1 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C frozen sweet corn (it will thaw out quickly)
1/2 C salsa
3 Tbsp low fat mayo
1 Cup uncooked pasta (I used spirals)
2 C shredded colby jack or pepper jack cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and rinse until cool. While pasta is cooking whisk together EVOO, vinegar, mustard, curry powder, salt and pepper, and mayo. Toss Black beans, corn, tomatoes, jalepeno, lime juice, lime zest, cilantro, and salsa. Toss drained pasta, black bean mixture and dressing mixture. Fold in cheese. Voila!

Cremini Mushroom Lentil Soup is getting to be soup weather, and I had a bag of dried lentils in my what is a girl to do?! Make up a soup recipe! it was really good, sorry the pictures look like puke!

Cremini Mushroom Lentil Soup

1 T Evoo
small vidalia onion, chopped fine
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (6oz) pkg cremini mushrooms (also baby bellas), roughly chopped
1/2 C dry sherry, divided (NOT cooking sherry)
5 C Chicken or Vegetable stock (not broth)
1 and 1/2 cups dried brown lentils, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper
3 bay leaves
1/4 tsp curry powder
crushed red pepper to taste (optional)
1 med red potato (peeled and cut into small cubes)
1/4 C half and half
1 Tbsp Butter and 1 Tbsp flour for roux (optional thickener)
Immersion Blender

Heat oil in over med heat. Saute onion about 7 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add mushrooms, and sherry, salt and pepper and 1/4 c dry sherry and raise to med high heat. Saute 6 minutes and add carrots, stir and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add lentils and stir and add chicken stock, bay leaves, curry powder. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to med and simmer about 10 minutes. Add potatoes and simmer another 20 minutes, until potatoes and lentils are tender. Remove bay leaves and puree some of soup with immersion blender (this will thicken it slightly). Taste and add seasonings if needed. Add half and half and stir. I love thick soups, so I melted some butter in a small pot over med and add flour and whisk to make a roux. Cook a few minutes until golden and no longer smelling like flour. Add ladle of soup to roux and whisk. Turn off heat, add roux mixture back to soup and whisk. Adjust seasonings and add crushed red pepper if you like. Let sit to thicken about 10 min on low heat. Serve with sour cream or greek yogurt dolloped on top.

healthy homemade macaroni salad

I just have to warn you that I like my macaroni salad on the dry side (I am not a mayo person), so add more mayo if you really like it.

1 (14.5 oz) pkg macaroni elbows (I used Ronzoni Smart Taste)
2 and 1/2 Cups low fat mayo
2 T cider vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 and 1/2 C shredded carrot
1 and 1/2 C chopped celery
2 tsp mustard
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tsp onion powder

Cook pasta according to directions and drain, do not rinse (dressing will not stick as well). While pasta is cooking mix, mayo, vinegar, sugar, mustard, onion powder, salt and pepper. Toss dressing with warm pasta (absorbs some of mayo). Fold in carrots and celery.

Easy Blue Cheese Dip

OK, you will laugh, but it is this easy:

Blue cheese crumbled (however much you want)
16 oz Low Fat Sour Cream
salt and pepper to taste

mix all ingredients and enjoy with veggies or on a burger. I say however much you want because some people like it really cheesy (like me)

Beer Cheese (it is a fon-do!)

OMG this is so addicting, I did not even know how good it was going to be. People were literally cleaning the crockpot with their fingers! I made this for my housewarming party, and had breadcubes for dipping, but you could use tortilla chips and veggies, pretzels, whatever tastes good with cheese! I made this on the stovetop and then kept it warm in the crockpot on the keep warm setting. This dip is even great once cooled and you spread it on crackers and bread. ***Photo is not mine, I found it on google from

Beer Cheese Fon-Do!

1 loaf crusty white bread (like sourdough), cubed
1 Tbsp butter
1 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz Velveeta, cut into cubes
8 oz low fat cream cheese cut up
1 T. spicy brown mustard (like guldens)
1 C Colby cheese, shredded
1 C pepper jack cheese, shredded
12 oz can beer (use a lager or darker beer)
few dashes hot sauce (to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

melt butter over med heat and saute garlic 1 minute. add velveeta, cream cheese, and mustard, and stir constantly til melted. Add shredded cheeses and keep stirring. Add beer a little at a time, stirring each time until combined. I used almost the entire bottle (except for about a swig), keep adding until it is the consistency you want. add hot sauce and salt and pepper. Pour into crock pot and put on low for about 20 minutes, then switch to keep warm. Serve with dippers.

Housewarming Party

So we had a housewarming party this weekend and it went great! Everything happened so fast I didnt get pics of the food, just the firepit, living room and some of my crazy friends!
Here was the menu:


Beer Cheese with bread cubes for dipping
baby carrots and snap peas with easy blue cheese dip
purchased hummus and pita chips
purchased mexican 7 layer dip with tortilla chips
purchased frozen mini phyllo quiches


Hot Dogs and Burgers
Homemade Macaroni Salad


Toasted Marshmallows
Purchased cookies
Pumpkin Dip with gingersnaps

***Recipes for the following can be found in my blog under housewarming: Beer Cheese, easy blue cheese dip, homemade healthy macaroni salad, and pumpkin dip. If you don't know how to make smores, then stop reading this right now and google it!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

I think these are similar to Hello Dolly bars. I first got a taste of these in a cookie exchange at work and I am not sure where she got the recipe from, so sorry for no credit....but these are so great and very easy. No picture yet, Ill take one when I make it again!

Makes about 20

1/2 C butter
1 and 1/2 C Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 C milk chocolate chips
1 C peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter over low heat. Place crumbs in a 13X9 inch pan and pour butter over them. Pour condensed milk evenly over that. Sprinkle chocolate and peanut butter chips over milk mixture and press down firmly. Bake 25-30 minutes.

grilled chicken and potato salad (healthy)

O.K. so is everyone as sick of hot dogs and hamburgers as I am....ok so I am not sick of hot dogs because I LUV then...but here is a recipe for a great chicken marinade (courtesy of my mom) and a low fat Potato Salad, which I modified from a cooking light recipe I found a long long time ago!

Garlic Rosemary Marinade for Chicken

1/2 C fresh lemon juice
1/4 C plus 2 Tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp minced rosemary (fresh)
2 Tbsp Fleur de sel (which I think is fancy for sea salt)
2 Tbsp Cracked black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and marinade chicken for 20 minutes. I think my mom used about 2 lbs. chicken breasts. Cook on the grill until no longer pink inside.

Creamy Dijon Potato Salad

2 and 1/2 lb. med size red potatoes
1/4 C scallions, sliced thin (green part only)
1/2 C. low fat mayo (Hellmans only!)
1/4 C plain low fat greek yogurt
1/4 C. low fat sour cream
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp prepared mustard ( I used a french dijon, use what you have on hand)
1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar (or apple cidar vinegar)
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp pepper
2 C chopped celery

Cut potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces (leave skins on). Place in large pan and add water to cover. Bring to boil (I usually salt the water). Simmer 20 minutes approx (or until potatoes are tender). Drain. While potatoes are cooking, mix dressing ingredients in small bowl. Combine mayo through pepper and whisk together until combined. Add celery and scallions and fold in. Toss with potatoes gently until coated. I do this while the potatoes are warm still, because they absorb some of the dressing and it makes it more flavorful I think. Cover and chill. I like to make this the night before, because then it is chilled fully and I feel like it tastes better the next day. You can serve it the same day, but I would chill for at least 4 hours. Makes 8-10 servings

Tortilla Espanola

Eggs aren't just for breakfast anymore! So while in Spain I had this fabulous tapas called Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omlet), but it is not like our omlet, it has lots of potatoes and you serve it like a pie (cut into wedges). It is an easy and affordable meal. I could eat it for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. We had it with a nice side salad for dinner. I made my own recipe because so many I found online were laden with so much oil. Mine is a little different from the traditional, but tasted just like the ones I had in Spain.

Tortilla Espanola

1/2 C. EVOO
1 large sweet onion, chopped finely
1 lb. bag already shredded potatoes (Simply Potatoes)
salt and pepper
5 large eggs
1 tsp half and half
1/2 C. Colby Cheese, shredded
nonstick foil and cookie sheet or plate to invert it onto

Over med to med high heat saute onions in olive oil in large nonstick frying pan, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and saute another 10 minutes, stirring frequently (don't brown), add salt and pepper to taste. While potatoes are cooking whisk together eggs, half and half and salt and pepper, add shredded cheese. Once potatoes are done add a large spoonful to egg mixture and stir (to bring the eggs up to temperature). Add remaining potato mixture to egg mixture and mix well. Pour back into pan and pat down until it is flat and even on top. Cook on med to med high heat about 12 minutes. Put nonstick foil on a large baking sheet or very large plate. Place foil side down on top of pan and flip omlette over and slide uncooked side down back into pan (I needed help for this part, it is very heavy). Cook another 8 minutes. Put new foil on baking sheet and slide omlette onto it. Let rest 2 minutes, and then cut into wedges. Serve with salad and toast. Great with ketchup or hot sauce (or sangria)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vegetarian Stuffed Eggplant

Ok, so my friend from work, Faith, gave me some lovely eggplants from her I have never made stuffed eggplant before....but this was so good! The filling was soooo flavorful, you don't even miss the meat! The only prob I had was the "shells" were not as cooked as I would like them to be. I might boil them next time....if she has more eggplant I will try it again this week. But the filling was so dang good that I would just make that!
***if the eggplant is too firm, just eat the filling, that is what I did***
Karen's Stuffed Eggplant

2 med sized eggplant, sliced in half lengthwise
3 T olive oil
1 med Vidalia onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C Chicken (or vegetable) stock
1 oz red wine
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 C toasted pine nuts
1/3 C fresh basil, sliced into chiffonade
3/4 C Panko (japanese) bread crumbs
1/2 C Parmesan (generous 1/2 c)
few Tbsps vodka sauce (premade, jar)
3 slices part skim mozzerella cheese

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Scoop flesh out of eggplant, leaving 1/4 inch shells. Drizzle eggplant "boats" with olive oil. Place Eggplant "boats" in baking dish over nonstick foil in oven for 30 minutes or so (until fork tender).

Chop eggplant flesh finely. Heat 3 T olive oil over med. heat. Saute onion for about 10 minutes. add garlic and saute another minute. Add salt and pepper. Add chopped eggplant, chicken stock and wine and saute 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, pine nuts, basil and cook another 5 minutes. Filling should be tender, if not keep cooking until it is.....eggplant takes a really long ass time to get tender. Once tender, add breadcrumbs and parmesan. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Spoon mixture into eggplant "boats" press and form into domes. Drizzle olive oil over top and bake for 45 minutes. Add vodka or tomato sauce and sliced mozzerella and broil 5 minutes until cheese is browned and bubbly.