Saturday, January 31, 2009

rotisserie cornish game hen with sauced three-cheese ravioli and sauteed zucchini

I had the privilege again to assist Chef D with a weekend meal.  Tonight he wanted to give our new rotisserie a go with something a little different -- cornish game hens.  He used the Mimi's Sticky Chicken seasoning before putting them to cooking for about 2 1/2 hours on a low rotisserie setting.  We weren't really sure how long it would take, so we probably let them go a wee bit longer than necessary.  In the end, they weren't too overcooked, though.

He picked up some pre-made three-cheese miniature raviolis at the supermarket and used a pre-made spaghetti sauce as a base to which he added additional fresh herbs and seasonings.  

I helped by prepping the zucchini with our favorite julienne peeler.  I sauteed them in a dab of extra virgin olive oil with a bit of Mrs. Dash Table Blend and Emeril's Original Essence.  It only takes about 2 minutes since the zucchini has been cut to such small pieces.  Don't overcook!

This meal ended up being a bit on the spicy side, so we ended our meal with a little 100-calorie treat to cool down our lips.

Total calories for the meal (eating 1/2 of the hen and including the treat at the end): 635

Friday, January 30, 2009

cheap noodles

Well, they aren't cheap when you come to paying for them, but they are cheap when you count their calories.  I heard about these shirataki tofu noodles with only 20 calories per serving (and it is a pretty large serving) from Hungry Girl and decided to give them a try.

Today I invited Barb over for lunch and fixed Chef D's ginger rice noodle soup, but with the shirataki noodles instead of the rice noodles.  Yes, they take a little work to get them ready to use (drain and rinse, microwave for a minute, then totally dry them out on a towel), but it was well worth the effort.  They reminded me very much of ramen noodles, but a little chewier.  I do believe we have a winner here!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

dan dan noodles with pickled cucumbers - part deux

This is the second time I have tried this recipe (see first time here).  

I again used hothouse cucumbers, but instead of having them julienned, I just sliced them thinly and put them together less than an hour before the meal.  They kept their crunch this time.  I also reduced the red pepper so that they would not be so hot.  Chef D said I am getting closer to what he is looking for in a pickled cucumber.  Practice makes perfect!

I used a chinese-style noodle that we had in the cupboard that just might be called long-life (they were VERY long).  The peanut-flavored sauce with ground turkey chunks worked well again. 

I liked this one and we'll have it again in the future.  Not bad at all for less than 500 calories.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

teriyaki chicken thighs with shitake ginger soup and bamboo rice

I really liked this teriyaki chicken tonight -- yummy!  I had all of the ingredients here, since we used many of them during Supper Club Saturday last weekend.  After they were finished on the grill, I put them in a small iron skillet, covered with foil, and placed them in the warming oven while the rice finished.  They were still tender and had a nice, sweet flavor from the marinade.  

This bamboo rice that we found at Fresh Market last week looked yummy and has only 160 calories per cup, so I had to grab a jar to give it a try.  I was a little disappointed.  I did not really know what to expect, but it was pretty flavorless.  The green onions and a little salt and pepper helped somewhat, but I will need to come up with something else to add when I use it again.  Chef D ended up putting his in his soup.

I decided to try to recreate Chef D's soup from last Saturday, minus the noodles, but I did not quite hit the mark.  I will need to add some additional bouillon next the time.  I still liked it, though.

Again, a good meal for under 300 calories this time!

Monday, January 26, 2009

salmon cakes with steamed asparagus and baked sweet potato

Okay, I know that some people may think sweet potatoes do not go with salmon, but I wanted some color on the plate. ;)

This salmon cake recipe is one that I have used before and came from my Cuisine at Home magazine.  The last time I used fresh salmon, so I decided to try out canned salmon this go around.  I also reduced the sriracha sauce to keep the heat down.  Overall, I thought the flavor was good, but for some reason, the cakes did not hold together well.  I think they need a little more egg.

You all are probably tiring of seeing pictures of asparagus spears here, but we love them.  They are one of the few green vegetables that Chef D likes, so I fix them often.

All the potato needed was a sprinkling of our special cinnamon-sugar mixture (vietnamese cassia cinnamon with turbinado sugar) and a little butter (well, I used smart balance light since I am watching my calories).  

All in all, I thought this was a pretty good meal for under 400 calories.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

menu planning monday 01.26.09

Our weightloss this week was a little less than previous weeks, but using lower-calorie recipes and portion control is still working for us.  I will add in calorie counts after they are all determined.  Here is to another great healthy-eating week!

MondaySalmon Cakes (125 calories each) with fresh steamed asparagus (2 calories each) and baked sweet potato (50 calories); Prep: make pumpkin bread for lunchboxes
Tuesday: Teriyaki Chicken Thighs with soup and bamboo rice (80 cal/ .5 cup).  Blueberry-Banana Smoothies for our Bible Reading group dessert.

Apprehension-Free Wednesday: Dinner at church will be Chicken stir-fry, fried rice, salad and dessert. Prep: make oatmeal bars for lunchboxes

Thursday: Dan Dan Noodles with pickled cucumbers (450 calories) 

FridayFish Tacos (290 calories each) with Tijuana Kitchen Rice (200 calories/cup); Prep:  Make white chocolate-macadamia nut cookies and rice krispies treats for a college care package

Sous-chef Saturday: We are going to rotisserie a couple of cornish game hens and use the Mimi's Sticky Chicken seasonings, julienne and saute some zucchini, and cook up a little pasta.

Hospitality Sunday: Beef Stew and cornbread to share with friends after church.

Check out lots of other menu planning ideas over at OrgJunkie:)

Monday, January 19, 2009

menu planning monday 01.19.09

I got a little distracted and did not get around to figuring out my menu plan for this week until much later than usual.  The menus last week worked great for my lower-calorie plan and I lost another 4 lbs.!  Now to just come up with a variety of foods to make it all worthwhile:)  I will post calories once I get that determined.

Also, I wanted to share a great zero-calorie snack I just found -- Mt. Olive no sugar added sweet gherkins.  I love sweet pickles, but haven't eaten them in awhile due to the sugar-added calories.  Thank you, Mt. Olive!

Monday:  We traveled over to Auburn to have lunch with our daughter.  We got back late so we are just having leftovers.

Tuesday: Grilled shrimp skewers with yellow rice and a caesar salad (500 calories). Prep:  boil a dozen eggs.

Apprehension-Free Wednesday:  Dinner at church will be pork roast, hash brown casserole, green beans, salad and dessert. Prep:  Make fresh fruit with mint balsamic tea (I am growing addicted to this!)

Thursday: Teriyaki Chicken with pickled cucumbers and basmati rice (400 calories)

Friday: Bacon and Swiss Quiche with a tossed salad and fresh fruit (see Wednesday)

Supper Club Saturday
Hospitality Sunday:  Too much going on Saturday night to plan a hospitality Sunday this week so it is a dining out day.

Don't forget to check out OrgJunkie for more menu planning ideas!

Friday, January 16, 2009

rosemary grilled chicken with whole-grain pilaf and steamed asparagus

I really like this chicken recipe because it is just so easy. I used boneless thighs the last time I used this recipe.  This time I tried it with skinless, boneless chicken breasts that had been pounded to a 1/4-inch thickness.  I also added a low-calorie cream sauce this time.  I think I prefer the flavor that the thighs provided.  If I use breasts again, Chef D and I will split one instead of each having our own -- we had way too many leftovers tonight.

The pilaf was okay.  It had a nice nutty flavor, but cutting out the butter to reduce calories also reduced the flavor.  The fresh asparagus, steamed just 5 minutes were perfect.

Notes for next time:  Use one breast and split it, figure out additional herbs and spices to add to the pilaf to replace the flavor lost by cutting the fat.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

menu planning monday 01.12.09

We did great with watching our calories last week.  Chef D lost 7 lbs. and I lost 6 lbs.!  Yay us!!!

I am still working on figuring out the calorie counts for the food this week and will amend this post when that is finished.  Here is to another great week!

Monday:  Chef D and the boys are going to the church Men's Club dinner, so I am on my own and will probably have a soup and salad.  Prep: repackage and freeze chicken breasts; make berry sorbet.

Tuesday:  Fajitas with the works (490 calories); cheese quesadillas for the boys.  Berry sorbet for Bible Group dessert.

Apprehension-Free Wednesday: This week's dinner at church will be Mexican chicken casserole, macaroni and cheese, lima beans, salad and dessert.  Prep:  Bake butternut squash and freeze for future use.

Thursday: Smoked Mozzarella and Artichoke Ravioli with Tomato Basil Cream Sauce (the sauce recipe is at the bottom of the page and I will adjust to reduce calories) and a tossed salad (345 calories).  Prep:  make avocado butter (50 calories/tablespoon).

Friday:  Rosemary Grilled Chicken (inspired by this recipe) with whole-grain pilaf and steamed asparagus (512 calories)

Sous-Chef Saturday: TBD

Hospitality Sunday:  I think I will see if Chef D will make some of his famous barbecue and serve it with cole slaw, cornbread, and pinto beans.

Don't forget to check out all the other menu plans posted at OrgJunkie!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

smoky shrimp and parmesan polenta cakes

Before you start to have that feeling of deja vu, I want to acknowledge that I may have an affinity for grits/polenta products.  Yes, one of my more recent posts was from our shrimp and grits for Christmas.  I had hopes that this version would come closer to my goal.  It did have a nice flavor, but it was a bit muted...but, I think I know why.

First of all, the recipe called for spanish smoked paprika.  When I initially glanced through the recipe I just assumed that is what I had in the cupboard.  I was wrong.  I have a feeling that the smoky flavor of the spanish paprika may have just been the 'kick' that this dish needed, and I missed out on it.

However, I did figure out how to serve the polenta correctly...finally.  I cooked it earlier today and poured it into two small 4 ounce ramekin dishes (I sprayed them with cooking spray first).  After they cooled, they popped right out in perfect rounds.

Chef D is not the big grits fan that I am, so his shrimp was served on a bed of of organic italian fusilli (or, as our boys like to call them, drill bit noodles), smothered in the marinara, with a sprinkling of the fresh parmesan.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

menu planning monday 01.05.09

Happy New Year to everyone!

Chef D and I have begun a new adventure in healthier eating and increased exercise.  With all the cooking we did over the last year we packed on a few (or more than a few) extra pounds, so we really need to make some changes.  I hope that planning out our menus will help to manage our caloric intake a little better.  Our plan is to still eat tasty food, just less of it.

Monday: Filet Mignon with fresh herb and garlic rub with fingerling potatoes and steamed asparagus (530 calories). Prep: pumpkin bread and oatmeal bars for lunchboxes, set out chicken to thaw for tomorrow.

Tuesday: Chicken Stir-Fry with broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers with white rice (450 calories). Prep: make fresh fruit with mint balsamic tea (the lower calorie version) and berry sorbet for healthy snacks.

Apprehension-Free Wednesday: Shrimp or Chicken Creole, Green Beans, Rice, Salad and Dessert will be served at church. Prep: Boil a dozen eggs for snacks for Chef D; make sauce for breakfast tacos.

ThursdaySmoky Shrimp and Parmesan-Polenta Cakes (except I am making my own polenta cakes, not buying the pre-made) with tossed salad (350 calories). 

Friday:  Scrapbooking Night for me, Boy's Night Out for Chef D and the two hoodlums.  I think I will make a fresh caprese salad to take to the scrapbooking crop.  [edited to add:  I couldn't find any low-cal mozzarella that I liked, so I will probably use the tomatoes to make some pico de gallo and just take this bag of tortilla chips to get it out of the house so Chef D and I aren't tempted to finish it off]

Sous-Chef Saturday:  I wonder what Chef D has in mind for this weekend?  I am awaiting my orders as sous-chef.

Hospitality Sunday:  The chili worked out great two weeks ago and our guests loved it.  [edited to add:  Since this is the day we go to the nursing home at 2 pm, our after church meal needs to be prepared in advance.  So, this week's menu is smoked ham, baked sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, tossed salad and a yeast roll.]

Many thanks to Laura over at OrgJunkie for hosting Menu Planning Monday.  Check it out for more menu planning ideas!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

new year's eve celebrating

This year we again decided to invite some friends over to help celebrate the new year's arrival.  We decided to prepare a variety of finger foods and let everyone just 'graze' buffet style through the night as each course was ready.  Chef D picked up a standing rib roast and cut it up, added to some fresh pineapple chunks, whole button mushrooms, sweet grape tomatoes, and sweet vidalia onion chunks to make shish-ke-bobs.  While he prepped for that course, my friend Barb (aka The Southern Dining Diva) helped me cut up some more of the grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and a little extra virgin olive oil for a delicious caprese salad to eat with some french bread rounds.  

Earlier in the day I made the salsa/pico de gallo that would later be eaten with some crispy tortilla chips.  Another finger food favorite we served was Smoked Salmon tartare.  It is such a nice, light, cool, crisp appetizer that always works. Give it a try sometime.

Chef D made his baklava this past Monday so that it would have time to sit for a day or two before we served it.  This time he followed the recommendation of The Food Network's Alton Brown and used blanched almonds and pistachios along with pecans (instead of just pecans like he usually uses).  According to everyone here, it was the best baklava EVER.  You can find Chef D's recipe here.

Our final and ultimate course was wasabi tobiko, better known as flying fish eggs with a KICK!  Most of our guests were willing to give them a try, even if sushi was not their cup of tea. Even our own D2 gave them a shot! 

What a great way to begin a new year -- with good friends and good food!