Monday, March 26, 2012

Fresh Corn Casserole With Peppers and Jalapenos


8 ears corn (still in the husk)
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 fresh jalapenos, diced
1 cup heavy cream**
1/2 cup milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 stick salted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the corn from the husks. In a large, deep bowl, slice off the kernels of corn with a sharp knife. Turn the knife to the dull side and scrape the cob all the way down to remove all the bits of kernel and creamy milk inside. (I do this inside the bowl because it goes everywhere if you cut it on a board.)

Add the red bell peppers, jalapenos, heavy cream, milk, salt to taste, a generous amount of pepper and butter and mix it well. Pour into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Bake until thoroughly warmed through, 30 to 45 minutes.

**I made this recipe a while back, before I was committed to making healthy recipes. My eating plan really doesn't require me to calorie count (which is why I can do it :)), but if the idea of heavy cream scares you, try this substitute:
    3/4 cup milk
    1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled
    Mix the two together and add to recipe in place of cream

Before I wrote this post, I did some research about the nutritional facts for heavy cream vs. this substitute:
1 cup of heavy cream can have anywhere from 800-900 calories
For the substitute listed above, cites 41 calories prepared

Now, because I am not a nutritionist, I'm sharing these numbers with the disclaimer that they may not be perfect. However, even if my estimates are off by quite a margin, there still seems to be a huge caloric difference between the, it's for you to decide which to use.

Lastly, from my experience using substitutes, the consistency may not turn out exactly the same as it would otherwise. But in a casserole like this, it's not a big deal if it's a bit soupier, in my opinion.

Spiced-Up Corn on the Cob

Vegetables, while I love most of them prepared fairly simply, sometimes its fun to spice things up. Here's a recipe I modified from the Neelys on Food Network.

4 ears sweet corn, husked and silks removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Seasoning salt (I use Lawrey's)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 lime, juiced, plus 1 lime, quartered, for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup crumbled Feta or Cotija cheese

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Rub the corn with olive oil and season with seasoning salt, to taste. Grill the corn until it's charred, on all sides, rotating for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise, chili powder, cayenne, lime juice and salt and pepper, to taste, together in a small bowl. Remove the corn from the grill and brush the hot corn with the mayonnaise mixture. Arrange on a platter and sprinkle with the feta cheese. Serve with lime wedges on the side.

Notes about the cheese: Feta and Cotija cheeses taste completely different. While both salty, the Cotija has less of a briny taste. If you're not a fan of Feta, definitely try Cotija-if you like both, then you have just been gifted two recipes for the price of one. :)

Modifications: Try brushing the corn with garlic butter* rather than the mayo mixture and then sprinkling with parmesan cheese rather than feta or cotija.

*Zap some butter and minced garlic (I use the stuff in the jar because it's less potent for this application) in the microwave for a few seconds. The heat will infuse the garlic into the butter nicely.

Not firing up the grill? Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat each ear of corn in either the mayo mixture, or butter and wrap individually in foil. Roast until hot and steaming, about 25 minutes. Unwrap corn and sprinkle with whatever cheese you are using.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Delicious Barbeque Sausage

This recipe comes from a request by my husband for "some meat." He has been trying to cut out bread, etc. so he was really needing a manly meat dish. But, since I'm the cook, I had control over the healthiness. :) I ended up loving this meaty meal just as much as he did.

2 pkgs lean barbeque sausage, any flavor you like (I used a good quality, all-beef, cheddar/jalapeno)
Your favorite barbeque sauce (mine's Sweet Baby Ray's)
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow onion

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut sausages into 2 inch pieces, and slice onion and pepper into strips. Put all of this in a 9 x 13 baking dish, cover the ingredients with barbeque sauce, and toss to coat everything. The amount of sauce you use is up to you, the more you add, the more you'll have to spoon over the top of your meal later. :)

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until sauce looks nice and thick.

Notes: I think I may try switching the veggies out for some bbq beans sometime. This would be a fun take on the classic hotdog/baked beans summer favorite. 

I served this with a fresh salad. It would also be great with coleslaw (see recipes found on other posts).

Pizza-You Heard Me!

I am always on the search for carb-friendly recipes that satisfy my craving for my favorite comfort foods-in this case, PIZZA! Man have I got a recipe for you. This recipe comes my way via my Aunt Buddy. She has been committed to a much more aggressive eating plan than me, so I modified her recipe slightly to fit my regimen.

This recipe makes 1 personal pizza.

1 cup finely chopped cauliflower (break flourettes off and pulse in food processor until finely chopped)
1/4 cup Egg Beaters-I never use these but I thought I should go with what the inspiration recipe used
1/2 cup finely shredded mozzerella or Mexican four cheese blend (four cheese makes firmer crust)
Italian seasoning ( a few dashes)
Salt/pepper (a pinch of each)
Foil pie pans (you'll need one pan per pizza)
Any pizza toppings you like: sauce, cheese, turkey pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms-whatever you crave

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray foil pie pan with Pam. Mix the Egg Beaters, cheese, chopped cauliflower, italian seasoning, salt/pepper, in a bowl. Put the mixture in the prepared pan and press it down with the back of the spoon, so it's packed down and evenly distributed. Bake crust for 15-20 minutes, or until it's starting to brown. Then flip the crust and cook for 10-15 more minutes, or until nicely browned and firm.

Add toppings to pizza and then put back in the oven on Broil for a few minutes just to melt the cheese.


The crust is almost firm enough to pick up and eat like a regular piece of pizza. I may add a few more minutes to my cook time next go 'round to see if I can get it even firmer.

Notes: I made 2 crusts using a half of a head of cauliflower (which means I have the other half to use for roasted cauliflower later in the week-find that recipe on another post).

Next time I'm going to try using egg whites rather than Beaters to see how it turns out. Also, the original recipe said that you can use the same mixture, roll it into thin logs and bake on a cookie sheet, and wind up with a breadstick-like thing. I can't see exactly how that would work, but if someone wants to try it, let me know how it turns out!

Variations I am definitely going to try:
-Sauceless "white pizza" with mozzerela, ricotta, and mushrooms
-Pesto and sundried tomatoes
-Southwest style with taco meat, cheddar cheese and roasted red bell peppers

Friday, March 16, 2012

Wilted Spinach with Feta and Balsamic

Fact: Being fancy and eating fancy doesn't mean knowing what the heck you're actually doing in the kitchen. Thank you Google!

The other day I said, "Self, you should impress your grandparents friends (and five star diners) with a balsamic reduction as part of the meal you are serving them." Then Self said, "But you don't know how to make a balsamic reduction." So I replied, "Ah, but Google does..."

And here we are:

1 c balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
About 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A couple of handfuls of spinach (or a bag if that's how you buy it)
1 pkg feta

Put the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan on the stove over low heat. Let it do it's thing for a couple of hours-yes, you heard me-hours. Walk away. The balsamic vinegar will reduce ever so slowly, resulting in a syrupy, thick, sweet, reduction. This can be put on anything from a steak, to my Pesto Caprese Chicken (another post), to roasted vegetables (several other posts). When the reduction has been working for a couple of hours, start to check it out by swirling it around the pan. If it seems too thick, add a little water, no prob. When it seems like a nice syrupy consistency, remove it from the heat.

Put the spinach in a bowl. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil  (a couple of swirls-I never measure stuff like this) in a pan over medium heat. Saute the garlic and shallot for a few minutes, until the shallots take on a nice color. Transfer to the bowl with the spinach. Keeping the pan off the heat, add a few more swirls of oil (remaining 3 tbsp, if you're measuring), and add the feta. Stir the feta to melt it a little for about a minute. Add some salt and pepper to the pan, and then pour over the spinach. Toss everything to wilt the spinach slightly. AND NOW...Drizzle your balsamic reduction over the bowl (or, if you're fancy, over each plate once the salad is plated), using a spoon. VOILA!

***Add some roasted veggies on top of this salad for a delicious side dish. 

Roasted Carrots and Radishes

Back from California and ready to add some recipes! This one is a morph of one of my other roasted vegetable recipes on an earlier post.

Roasted radishes! YUUUUUUM! Here's the best part: I made this for a dinner party my grandparents and I hosted, and everyone thought they were potatoes. So in a low-carb-girl's world, that is code for awesomeness.

1 pkg baby carrots
1 bunch radishes
Dried thyme, oregano, italian seasoning, or whatever you have on hand
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 450. Cut stems off radishes (or leave them on if you're feeling fancy). Toss radishes and carrots with a couple of tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon (or, if you're like me, a couple of shakes) of your chosen dried herb, and a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes, or until you can stick a fork in a radish with ease.

**Serve alone as a side dish, or atop some warm wilted spinach with parmesan and a balsamic reduction (recipe on another post)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Edamame with Ground Pork

Olive Oil
8 oz ground pork
1 onion, chopped
1Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 c chopped tomatoes (I use sundried instead-purchase in oil, drain and pat dry) 2 c shelled edamame
Cilantro (garnish)

Directions: In 2 Tbsp olive oil, cook 8 ounces of ground pork until brown and crisp. Remove pork from the pan and pour off all but 2 Tbsp fat. In same pan, cook a chopped onion and 1 Tbsp minced garlic until soft, about 3 minutes. Add 1 tsp ground cumin and 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes; cook for 10 minutes. Stir in 2 cups shelled edamame and cook until tender (about 8 minutes). Return pork to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with cilantro.

Variations: try breakfast sausage instead of plain ground pork (skip addition of cumin), or swap out fresh tomatoes (because I hate them) for sundried :)