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Archive for the ‘Healthy Meal’ Category

So, I’ve been on a real Salmon kick lately.

If you live in New York (or anywhere), this is an expensive “kick” to be on. Salmon can cost upwards of $15 a pound (!), which is, gulp, a dollar an ounce? Compared to the insanely low $2.99 a pound you can get boneless, skinless chicken breasts for, it seems like it would be hard to rationalize eating such a posh fish for dinner. But then, you man up, buy some salmon, make the salmon, and you eat it. And you realize, it is so, totally, worth it. Besides, there’s only so much ground turkey and chicken a person can take before they head straight to the fish counter at Whole Foods and order up!

Last week, I was looking to make a quick-and-easy dinner for one, and decided I’d broil up some salmon, since it’s pretty much as hands-off as you can get. I tossed a four-ounce filet with some olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic, and popped it in my toaster oven (like a professional chef would do!) at 400º F for about 20 minutes.

While the salmon was roasting away, I dug through my fridge for some sort of side dish that would at least resemble a vegetable. As per the usual, avocado seemed the most appealing. But since plain old avocado slathered on top of salmon seemed a one-note, I opted to cut the fat with a refreshing bit of chopped cherry tomatoes, diced roasted peppers, and a splash of balsamic.

This is a pretty “safe” dinner in my kitchen. I love all of these ingredients and they’re make frequent appearances in my cooking, so there wasn’t any doubt in my mind that I’d enjoy this dish. That being said, I didn’t expect for this to be quite so incredible!! In fact, it blew me away!

I took the first fork full of the steaming hot, juicy salmon with a cool, creamy chunk of avocado and tart piece of tomato, balsamic dripping, and did a double take (yes, this was powerful enough to tear me away from The Bachelor: Women-Tell-All). The flavors were completely complimentary, richly satisfying from the salmon and avocado, yet refreshing from the tart red vegetables and vinegar. Each bite of fish and salsa hit all of my taste buds: savory, sweet, tart and tangy.

While the first rendition of this roasted salmon dish came about by accident, the second take was completely deliberate, and I hoped to prove with a back-up taste-tester that not only was this dish ridiculously easy to pull off (even for those who might be intimidated by cooking salmon), but the mouth-feel from healthy fats and refreshing flavor were appealing to those with different palate preferences.

The verdict? The dish was, once again, a huge winner in the flavor department, not to mention full of bright, beautiful color, making it sure to impress. Serve it alongside a chilled orzo pasta salad, like the one below.

I adapted one of my favorite orzo recipes, upping the mint, kalamata and green olives for a more sweet and tangy contrast to the rich salmon. In short, this is a super-fast, super satisfying, extremely delicious (and healthy) spring dinner!

Roasted Salmon with Tomato Avocado Salsa – Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 3 – 4 to 6 ounce fillets of wild Salmon (such as as Sockeye)
  • 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 medium avocado, skin and pit removed, chopped
  • 1/2 of one large, ripe tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (depending on your taste)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400º F.

2. Spray a baking sheet or roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray. Season salmon fillets with salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme on both sides. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat. Lay salmon skin-side down on the baking sheet. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes, or until meat flakes when cut with a fork.

3. While the salmon is roasting, make the salsa. Combine chopped avocado, tomato, roasted red pepper, balsamic vinegar, and remaining olive oil in a small bowl. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Toss to coat. Allow to marinate while salmon finishes cooking.

4. Once salmon is cooked, allow to rest for a few minutes. Serve hot with a third of the salsa over each fillet. Great with a room temperature or cool orzo salad or green salad.

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Lately, I’ve become really interested in what some call “functional medicine,” and more specifically, the impact that what you put into your body has on how your body operates and performs on a daily basis. In the simplest terms, this is the science behind “You are what you eat,” but the fact is, understanding all facets of how our daily meals and snacks change the way our bodies and minds function is anything but simple. In fact, trying to wrap your head around it all (are complex carbs good because they provide energy, or bad because they cause inflammation?!) can be enough to boggle anyone’s mind.

At the end of the day, I believe that the food choices each individual makes should be based on what feels right to you. No one knows how your body reacts to what you put into it better than you do; in line, surely no one has a better sense of what your own personal “hunger” cues and signals mean. Are you truly hungry, or are you just bored? Is that your daily afternoon sugar craving? Do you need to fuel an intense workout with extra carbs and protein? Are you okay with splurging on tons of pizza and wine this weekend because you know you’ll make healthier choices all week? We each decide individually how to fuel our bodies based on tuning in to what our innate needs are telling us.

For someone like me, who clearly loves food of all shapes and sizes and would gladly indulge in some of the least healthy types of food all the time if it wouldn’t impact on my health, one of the ways I’ve been pushing myself to try new foods lately is by understanding the positive impact different ones can have on my physical well-being.

But let me back up. For some, perhaps, this connection between the food we eat and what goes on in our bodies has been obvious all their lives. I, however, was somehow oblivious to the link between food and body weight throughout all of my childhood and early teenage years (which probably explains my childhood obsession with bread and butter, and potato chips). As I reached my teenage years, I started to connect the dots and watch what I ate a little bit more. But even then, I thought only in terms of calories, not in terms of nutrient requirements or balance.

 

While spending a year in culinary school, where I sampled the widest variety of cuisines imaginable, often at odd hours, like late at night on a very empty stomach, I became even more aware of the impact food has on our body. Sometimes I would feel a rush of energy after eating a culinary school meal at 9 pm at night; other times, meals would leave me feeling drained and sub par for 24 hours afterwards. I started to pay more attention to the impact that consuming gluten and dairy had on my energy levels, as well as my skin and mood, based on my own experience, reading about others’, and learning more about the science. And while I’m far from gluten or dairy free in my daily life (again, pizza!), its something I now monitor and try to reduce in my diet. Again, its a personal choice – based solely on what works for me.

Where am I going with all of this? My point is, the way I , and probably most of us out there learn and think about food is constantly changing! The news is full of articles on everything from diabetes, to childhood obesity, to “diseases of affluence,” all of which tie back to what and how we eat. Don’t get me wrong – I love to eat, cook, and enjoy food on many levels. But I also believe we have a responsiblity to view food as more than just an indulgent pleasure, and to better understand how it fuels and nourishes us, so that food can help us overcome challenges, not create them for us.

After watching a great talk by Dr. Mark Hyman at TedMed last week, I signed up for his newsletter so I could regularly learn more about the basics of functional medicine and nutrition he touts. His last newsletter was all about getting an “oil change” by understanding what types of oils and fats are necessary in our diets. While dietitians have touted the importance of a low-fat diet for years, evidence is increasingly surfacing that healthy fats, in the form of Omega-3 fatty acids, are needed in the human diet for everything from cellular health and regeneration to brain function.

All of our cells need Omega-3 fats to have strong, flexible, resilient cell walls; however, many of us get most of our fats from other (non-omega 3) sources, and when our cells use these fats to regenerate and grow, their walls are more rigid and more likely to inflame. Inflammation is at the root of a whole slew of everyday problems, from indigestion, to bloating, fatigue, achiness, etc. Omega-3 fatty acids are also crucial for a healthy brain, since our brains are more than 60% fat, so getting more Omega-3 in your diet could potentially make you feel more alert, intelligent, and happy! Are you sold yet?

All this evidence makes Omega-3’s sound like a miracle nutrient, and I was immediately bent on trying to incorporate more of them into my diet. I had been planning a new recipe for an “Energy Cookie,” based on one I’d had at my favorite SoHo cafe, ‘Snice, that is gluten-free and vegan with no added sugar – meaning this “cookie” gives you slow-burning energy, rather than a “rise-and-crash.” The only problem? The energy cookie at ‘Snice doesn’t have very much Omega-3 in it.

So I started with that cookie’s ingredients – oats, dried fruit, almonds – and bulked it up with tons of golden flax seeds, which are the top source of Omega-3 fats: just 1 tablespoon provides 100% of your daily value. Toss in a couple of omega-3 eggs, and out came an “energy bar” that provides over 1,000 mg (or 100% of your daily recommended amount) of Omega-3’s per serving. Not to mention, it’s still GF/SF/V, and tastes pretty darn great!

Oh, and they’re pretty.

So maybe you’re not ready to jump on the functional medicine bandwagon like I am, but are you ready to replace your afternoon sugary pick-me-up with one that tastes just as good, but will give you slow-burning energy? If you are, this recipe is for you. Give it a shot!

Fruit-and-Flax Energy Bars – Makes 18 bars

Adapted from Kath Eats

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cups of golden flax seeds
  • 2/3 cups of chopped or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup of dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of dried apples, chopped
  • 2 eggs (use Omega-3 eggs for 100% DV of Omega-3)
  • 2.5 cups of skim milk
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Method
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. In a food processor, add 1 cup of rolled oats and 1/2 cup flax seeds. Process until finely ground, resembling a course flour. Transfer to a large bowl and add remaining dry ingredients: remaining oats, flax seeds, almonds, apricots, apples, cinnamon, cardamom, salt and baking powder.
3. In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat to combine.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients, and stir well to combine.
5. Line a large (9″x13″) baking dish with parchment and pour in batter. Smooth and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Cool before slicing. Makes 18 bars.
NOTE – The only sweetness in these bars comes from the dried fruit, and they have a very oaty flavor. If you prefer them sweeter, you can add some brown sugar or honey to the mix – but, they won’t be no-added-sugar anymore.
Nutritional Info: Each bar has 136 calories, 5.8 grams of fat, 3.8 grams of fiber, 6.2 grams of protein, and of course, a daily serving of Omega 3 (1,116 mg). 

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Back in October, I did a stage at Bon Appetit for a day. Yes, the Bon Appetit. It was an amazing experience and I feel so lucky to have had it; getting to see exactly what went down in the BA test kitchen, whose recipes I pour over each month when my issue arrives, was sort of a dream come true. Even more delightful was this February, when I saw several of the recipes I helped prep in print in the magazine!

Since a stage is sort of like a day-long interview, the test kitchen cooks, in addition to testing my skills and focus, asked me a lot of questions throughout the day to get to know me better. Mid-afternoon, one question that was less professional and a bit more personal came up – “What is your favorite food?”

True to my thought process when questioned by any authority figure, I quickly debated telling them the response that would make me look more interesting, more cultured, more appealing as a cook, versus just the plain old truth. But since I’m a terrible liar, I opted not to spin tales of foie gras and venison, and went with the latter; “It’s a little boring, but I’m such a pasta lover.” Apparently someone else in the test kitchen was a pasta junkie too, and so it went over well.

And really, it’s not that surprising. Who doesn’t love thick, hearty strands of semolina goodness swirled through rich sauces, be them tart and savory, or luscious and creamy? A well-done pasta is something few people can escape the allure of.

Enter this week, where I was doing some hardcore procrastinating on my new favorite interweb obsession, Pinterest (that is, me and the rest of the female population of the world), when I came across this recipe for Pasta Puttanesca. Or rather, this picture:

From The Pioneer Woman; click for source.

I love the Pioneer Woman. The first time I ever saw her her was around Thanksgiving 2010, when Ree Drummond was on TV competing in the Thanksgiving Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Bobby and his team were driving up to the Drummond Ranch, and I freaked out a little bit because my boyfriend’s last name is also Drummond. In my naiveté, I frantically texted him asking if he might be related to whoever Flay was throwing down against, and though it wasn’t the case (that we know of), I still watched the whole episode, endeared by Ree’s personality and casual yet expert approach to cooking. And her food blog/website basically sets the bar for food bloggers.

Anyway, I saw this Pasta Puttanesca, and knew it had to be good. I’d never made puttanesca before, but a quick skim of the recipe proved I had most of the ingredients already, and it could be dinner in a cinch. I made a few modifications to the inspiration recipe, adding some sautéed chicken breast, using both black and kalamata olives, and a bit less cheese and oil to up the flavor while cutting the fat.

And it really did come together quickly – forty minutes, from start to finish, and I took my time. This pasta dish is so insanely delicious – the grape tomatoes provide the traditional acidic base of red sauce that we all crave, but the anchovies and olives add a layer of silky, savory Mediterranean flavor that makes this sauce downright addicting. I used Trader Joe’s High Fiber Spaghetti and added some herb-sautéed chicken breast for extra fiber, a punch of protein and staying power. Tossing the whole thing with some Parmesan cheese and fresh basil at the end ties it all together – it is, in essence, the perfect pasta.

But don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself!

Pasta Puttanesca with Herbed Chicken – Serves 4

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ whole red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ cups of grape tomatoes, halved
  • ¾ cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 whole anchovy filets, minced
  • 1/4 cup of black olives (the canned variety), finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of kalamata olives, finely chopped
  • 1 ounce of grated parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces of high-fiber or whole wheat Spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil for garnish
  • 2 4-ounce chicken breasts
  • Pinch of oregano or Herbs De Provence
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Method

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta to al dente while preparing the sauce.

2. Combine the minced garlic, anchovies, and olives in a bowl. Set aside.

3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced red onions and cook until they start to caramelize, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the grape tomatoes and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more, until tomatoes start to soften.

4. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic/anchovy/olive mixture. Stir to combine the sauce, reduce heat to low, and continue to gently simmer until the sauce has reduced to your liking. Keep in mind the pasta will absorb some of the liquid, so wetter is better. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Meanwhile, season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and a sprinkle of Herbs de Provence or Oregano. Heat a skillet over medium heat and grease lightly with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil. Cook chicken breasts for 2 – 3 minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside. Once chicken has cooled slightly, roughly chop into bite-sized pieces.

6.  Drain pasta and add to the sauce pan, along with the diced chicken. Add the grated Parmesan and toss to coat pasta in the sauce. Garnish with chopped basil sprinkled over the top. Serve right out of the skillet.

Nutrition Facts (per HUGE serving; makes 4 servings) – 344 calories, 11 grams of fat (1.8g saturated fat), 7.2 grams of fiber, 23.5 grams of protein.

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Sunday, as I promised, the early evening was spent trying to recreate the most delicious Lentil Soup I’ve ever had in my own little kitchen. If you missed the post where I mentioned this first, this soup is inspired by a particularly delicious Family Meal that I had a few weeks ago. That soup was hearty, rich, aromatic and filling – and though it was vegetarian, it didn’t feel like it was lacking anything. Let’s just say I was not the only employee hounding the cook who made it for the recipe by the end of the night.

After my shifts this weekend, and after a solid recovery that consisted of eleven hours of sleep and one steamy slice of New York-style thin crust pizza, I set off to gather the ingredients for this epic soup. And though I had to settle for store-bought stock, super-olivey-oil, and a smaller variety of aromatics, I have to say – it came out pretty darn great! My lentil soup has the same thick consistency and hearty, earthy nature of the “inspiration soup” – and though I mixed up the spices from the original, the addition of cayenne gives an extra kick of heat that really suits this soup well. Soups are meant to be spicy, if you ask me!

Best part? Like the original, this soup is completely vegetarian (okay, we’re not counting the chicken stock – but you could use Veg stock too), and loaded with vegetables and healthy fiber. Oh, and did you know that lentils are a great source of protein? Yep, there are 12 grams in just one 1/4 cup serving, making it ideal for those who are cutting back on meat. Who says lentil soup needs that giant gnarly ham-hock in there? Not me! You’ve gotta give this a whirl.

Vegetarian Lentil Soup – Makes 8 – 10 ounce servings

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1/2 of a large bulb of Fennel (about 6 oz), diced
  • 5 – 6 medium celery stalks, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (San Marzano preferred), solid tomatoes separated from juices
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 cups of dried green lentils
  • 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and fresh-cracked black pepper

Method

1. Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium-low heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, celery and garlic (mirepoix), and stir to coat. Cover the pot and let vegetables sweat over low heat for about 20 – 30 minutes, or until soft, stirring every five minutes. Be sure to keep the heat low so that the mirepoix just sweats, and does not brown.

2. Once the mirepoix has softened, add the solid crushed tomatoes and raise the heat to medium. Cook, stirring, for about a minute, until the tomatoes have caramelized slightly.

3. Next, add the oregano, bay leaves, cumin, cayenne, and stir to coat the vegetables. Add the chicken stock, water, and lentils and stir. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

4. Once the lentils are cooked, pour off about half of the soup and reserve. Using a standing or immersion blender, puree half of the soup until thick and smooth. As you are pureeing, slowly stream in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil until completely incorporated, or emulsified (this helps give the soup body).

5. Combine the pureed soup with the rest of the soup, and stir. Add balsamic vinegar to taste (1/2 tablespoon recommended). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, particularly with multi-grain pita chips!

Nutrition Stats: Per serving (1/8 of total batch) – 250 calories, 5 grams of fat, 10.3 grams of fiber, 13 grams of protein

What are your favorite vegetarian eats? 

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Happy Friday! Whew – it’s been a busy week around here! Between the Super Bowl, getting ready for Valentine’s Day and a certain wonderful Dad’s birthday, and a lot going on at work, it was a shock to my system to wake up this morning and realize – it’s Friday?! Time to start my “other” work week :)

To be completely honest, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to cook this week – there was some ordering in, a bit of throwing things together, and a little kitchen experimentation that didn’t exactly hit it out of the park. In lieu of not having a wonderful recipe to share this week, I wanted to share a few of the other things (foodie and otherwise) that I’m loving right now.

First things first…

Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Spinach and Kale Dip

Click for source

Let’s all be honest here – who doesn’t love dip? I could probably subsist on meals that could be dipped alone – and this goes for not just savory, but sweet as well… in fact, I could be found dipping a pound of strawberries into marshmallow fluff during the Super Bowl halftime show last week. Not something I’m proud of, but you get my point.

I came across this dip during my weekly Trader Joe’s trip. While I was waiting on the 30 minute check-out line, debating breaking into my blueberries as my stomach painfully growled, samples of this glorious dip were being handed out at the Trader Joe’s sample booth (best thing ever?), along with some super crunchy, yummy “falafal chips.” I had a dipped-chip, and immediately was reminded of this epic, delicious, and totally indulgent spinach dip my roommate makes for special occasions. That dip is loaded with sour cream, mayo, and calories, and I die for it when she serves it in a pumpernickle bread bowl at Christmas Parties.

Curious, I checked out this lighter dip’s label, and saw that the Trader Joe’s rendition was packed with super healthy spinach and kale, and used primarily Greek Yogurt to achieve it’s creamy base, rendering it just a mere 30 calories per serving. Feeling like I’d just won the jackpot, I got this baby home and have been enjoying it all week on everything from cucumbers to whole grain chips to inside my lunch wraps. It’s by far the best “Guilt Free” dip I’ve ever tasted – I highly recommend picking some up for your next party or just for fun – you won’t know the difference!

5K Runner – The Couch to 5K App

Now, one may argue that running has nothing to do with Epicurean Bliss, but let’s face the facts – if we all ate everything delicious in sight (and half the things on this blog) on a regular basis without the occasional sweaty workout, we’d be jumping on the Paula Deen bandwagon right now, and who wants that? After a year of culinary school indulgence and no regular exercise plan, one of my 2012 resolutions was to get back to making my health – and fitness – a top priority! Now, I’ve never been a strong runner (you could always find me at the back of the pack during three-mile runs in middle school field hockey practice), but it’s something I try and keep up with, with the hopes of getting stronger and stronger as time goes by. I was finding it particularly difficult to get my endurance back up in early January, though, and decided to give the 5K app a whirl after hearing about it on one of my favorite blogs, The Daily Garnish.

After a few weeks of working my way through the 5K run/walks, I now have renewed hope that not only is my endurance, strength, and fitness level building, but perhaps I’ll even be 5K ready by spring! The app keeps me motivated with daily checkpoints, and allows me to get in the zone during my run by telling me when it’s time to change my pace.  I’d highly recommend this app to anyone who’s looking to become a runner (and for those who are interested in training for longer distances, there’s a 10K version too)!

Peter Luger’s Steakhouse

Click for source

This isn’t exactly a new favorite, as I’ve been a huge fan of Peter Lugar’s for years, ever since I tried their magnificent dry-aged steaks many moons ago. But, since I’m heading back to this famous steakhouse on Sunday for my dad’s birthday, it’s rather timely to once more tout the virtues of the Lugar. If you love steak, and are in the tri-state area, you should put a dinner at Peter Lugar’s on your bucket list. Their dry-aged steaks are by far, the best I’ve ever had, and the whole old-school steakhouse experience is just as craveable as the meat. Check out my full review of Peter Luger’s here.

Paleo Plan

Click for source

I debated blogging about this, but in the end, decided to put it on here because it’s about food, it’s interesting  – and it’s controversial on many different levels. For a while now, I’ve been contemplating the notion that really, the healthiest way for humans to eat would be the way our ancestors – the earliest humans – ate, relying on food that was readily available to them through hunting and gathering, and eating what appealed to them because it’s what their bodies could easily digest and what would sustain them. It seemed to me that this would be the ideal human diet because it is the original human diet, and as suspected, someone out there had already put this all down in writing as a marketable diet plan.

Enter the Paleo Plan, an eating plan based on our Paleolithic ancestors. The Paleo diet relies on lean meats, wild greens and vegetables, fruits, nuts, and healthy fats – in essence, removing anything refined, processed, or not in its purest form. Perhaps this is a logical, pure and healthy way to eat, but the contrary argument does exist – will we miss out on crucial nutrients by eating this way? Has the human body continued to evolve to not only be able to digest, but actually need the nutrition from dairy, legumes, grains, and food products made from them? And perhaps most more importantly, where’s the fun in life if you’re restricting so much of the most delicious foods in the world from your diet all the time? Despite the potential health benefits, I can’t see myself eating like this 100% of the time any time soon – but, it’s definitely an interesting concept and worth understanding.

At any rate, it did lead me to this awesome recipe for Gingery Beef and Broccoli, which we had last night to great enjoyment. Check it out!

Well, that’s all for now – time to buckle down for the rest of the weekend work. Hope you enjoyed a few of my February Favorites!

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With another 22-hour work weekend quickly descending on me, its beginning to feel like I won’t emerge from that steamy restaurant kitchen until the Super Bowl, in all its glorious football feasting, is actually upon us. What does that mean? That means this is the last chance I’ll get to share yet another great game-day recipe with you all, and this is one that I just couldn’t let slip by!

Hot buffalo wings are a football staple; they pop up everywhere that football is present, whether it be at a sports bar, a stadium, or in the comfort of your own living room on the day of a big game. These wings were on our sports-watching menu for the Giants-49ers playoff game a few weeks ago, and they turned out better than I expected, evidenced by how quickly they were gobbled up by our fellow game-watchers, who dunked the spicy meat into creamy ranch dressing as their eyes remained locked on the final quarter of the neck-and-neck game.

Click for source

These wings have the quintessential hot wings spiciness, thanks to the delicious beauty of Frank’s RedHot sauce, and are super crispy without being fried (always a win), which means you can eat twice as many… right? We’ll go with that. And like the commercials say, you won’t believe it’s not butter – in fact, you won’t believe these aren’t the artery clogging hot wings we all know and love! Baking these wings instead of frying them not only makes them slightly more heart healthy (while no less delicious), but it saves you the time of stressing and slaving over a pot of bubbling oil while your friends happily watch the Bowl in the background.

Instead, you can pop these babies in the oven, crack open an ice-cold beer, and enjoy how low maintenance your signature Super Bowl dish is while endlessly judging this year’s Bud Light commercials . Make these revamped hot wings part of your Super Bowl spread this year – and enjoy licking the spicy sauce off your fingers as we anxious wait to find out who this year’s Super Bowl champs will be (or what the best commercial will be, let’s be serious).

Click for source

Spicy Buffalo Wings –  Makes 20 hot wings

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 20 chicken wings (we used the larger ones with the drum stick connected, which was awesome)3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of melted “I can’t believe it’s not butter”
  • 1/2 cup of Frank’s RedHot sauce, or other hot sauce

Method

Clean chicken wings, trimming of any excess fat. Using paper towels, dry chicken wings very well. Place in a large gallon-sized ziplock bag along with the flour and spices. Toss gently until the wings are completely coated. Place chicken wings on a prepared baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray, and place in fridge for at least an hour.

When ready to cook the wings, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Combine melted butter and hot sauce in a bowl and mix until well combined. Dip the wings one at a time into the hot sauce mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet. Once all wings are coated in hot sauce, bake until wings are cooked through, about 45 minutes, turning wings over once halfway through cooking. Once the wings are cooked through but still juicy, switch oven to “Broil” (or place wings in broiler) and broil for 2 to 3 minutes until wings are crispy.

Serve hot with ranch dressing and celery sticks.

In case you missed them, here are some other great recipes for your Super Bowl feast this weekend!

Savory:

And, of course, sweet:

Plus some from around the web:

Happy Super Bowl!

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Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Last night, I had a hankering for barbecue chicken. This doesn’t happen very often – while I do find barbecue to be super delicious, I’m way to obsessed with carbs (and Italian food, and Asian fusion) to crave this on the regular. It probably had something to do with this recipe for crock pot BBQ beer chicken from HowSweetEats (why does everything she makes look sooo good? I need all of it) that I somehow stumbled across, and couldn’t get out of my head. I spent a lot of time perplexing over how I could pull this off, but since I don’t have a slow cooker, and staying home to slowly simmer chicken all day probably wouldn’t fly with my boss, I began to brainstorm other options.

And when endless Googling of barbecue chicken recipes led me to stumble across the brilliant idea of a barbecue chicken pizza, I knew I’d found my Tuesday night dinner.

In the mix? I started with a gooey packages of Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza crust, which is one of my favorite creations on earth. It doesn’t have any scary ingredients I can’t pronounce in it, is always fresh (not frozen), and bakes up into a dense, nutty crust with great chew. Plus, it saves me the three hours it would take to make my own pizza dough and let it rise, which means I can get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour on a weeknight. Trust me on this, and just go buy some of the stuff.

The other secret ingredient is your favorite super delicious barbecue sauce. Because of aforementioned reasons, I’ve never really had a go to barbecue sauce – until now. I picked up Trader Joe’s Bold and Smoky Kansas style sauce, and it was love at first lick! This stuff is so good – the perfect balance of sweet and tangy with an underlying smoky flavor that reminds you of summer barbecues. Any barbecue sauce will work for this recipe – just make sure it’s one you love.

And finally, while the barbecue chicken is certainly the star of this pizza, you want to make sure you have a little plain old tomato sauce on hand as the base for your toppings. This helps add extra moisture to the pizza, without overwhelming sweetness from the barbecue sauce.

In the end, this pizza is super delicious, well-balanced, and because of the whole wheat crust and, if you’d like, low-fat cheese – it’s not too bad for you! Both my roommate and boyfriend couldn’t get enough, and kept picking at the left over slices well after we’d finished eating. What can I say? Something about that sweet barbecue sauce, creamy cheese and crispy crust is just addicting! Make this pizza round for a traditional 8-slice pie, or bake them in smaller sizes and cut squares for bite-size appetizer pizzas, which would be perfect for this weekend’s Superbowl feasts!

Barbecue Chicken Pizza – Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 packages of Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough (or any other pizza dough recipe; would also work on a pre-made crust), plus flour for dusting
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 3-4 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1/2 inch thick each
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup of low-fat shredded cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and some non-stick cooking spray. Add the onions and saute over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until softened and caramelized. Remove from heat and reserve.

While the onions cook, add chicken breasts, 1 tablespoon of barbecue sauce, salt, and pepper to a zip lock bag. Close bag and toss chicken to coat with sauce and seasonings. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat and add some non-stick cooking spray. Add chicken breasts and cook, about 2 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove from pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Once rested, slice chicken into 1/2 inch strips.

With a well-floured work surface and hands, remove pizza dough from bag and turn out onto work surface. Using fingers to stretch the dough, or a rolling-pin, roll the dough to your desired shape (round or square works well). Place the dough on a pan that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray.

To assemble the pizza, start by topping the pizza crust with the tomato sauce, and spreading it out using the back of a spoon. Next add about half of the caramelized onions, the feta cheese and about two-thirds of the shredded cheese. Add the chicken strips, then the rest of the shredded cheese. Top with any remaining caramelized onions, if desired, and evenly drizzle with the quarter-cup of barbecue sauce.

Bake at 400° F for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Info (per slice): 239 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of fiber, 14 grams of protein

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