the food bitch

people call me a food bitch. not because of any gourmet tendencies (i go on a weekly fridge-sniff to see what needs to be thrown away), but due to my healthy lifestyle know-how and big mouth. i have a big mouth when it comes to food.

part healthy living, part recipe showcase, part food review - i do a little bit of everything.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Comfort.

Soups, more than anything, are the ultimate comfort food. I love making soup, taking the time to chop everything up, and have everything prepared. After putting in all of the effort and time, it's so nice to curl up on my couch with a big bowl.

And so, since I had a nice, relaxing afternoon (book shopping in Saratoga!) in the almost 50 degree upstate New York January weather, a soup sounded like a great idea.

This is a chili, but a thin chili, so we'll call it a soup. There's a rather long list of ingredients, but everything came together incredibly quickly, and I had a bowl in front of me in a little over an hour (including the time it took to grill the chicken - i didn't have any leftovers hanging around, but I did have some in the freezer that needed to be cooked before it got too freezerburned to be edible).

I love having inherited my Nannie's Farberware soup pot. The thing can do no wrong.

White Chicken Chili
Serves: 5
WW Points: 3

Ingredients:
1/2 tablespoon stick margarine
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño pepper
1 small garlic clove, minced
7 oz chopped cooked chicken
2 cups cannellini beans or other white beans, drained and divided
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 oz canned chopped green chiles
1/2 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
Melt the margarine in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 4 ingredients (onion through garlic), and sauté 5 minutes. Add chicke, 2/3 cup beans, broth, and next 6 ingredients (broth through black pepper), and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

Mash remaining beans. Add mashed beans and milk to the chicken mixture. Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring frequently. Stir in chopped cilantro.



It was light, and nicely spiced. I might add more of the jalapeno, next time. I served it simple, alongside salad and garlic toasts.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I eat breakfast all the time

I love breakfast so much, that some days I'll eat it for all three meals. Yesterday, I kind of did that (if you count the english muffin pizza I made for lunch).

For dinner, I made a really easy and incredibly tasty breakfast casserole. And the recipe actually called for vegetarian meat! I suppose you could make it even lighter by using all egg substitute, but after not eating regular eggs for so long, I forgot that the texture isn't supposed to be... rubbery. I wasn't able to get Gimme Lean Sausage, so I opted for the ground beef. I don't think it made much of a difference, but I would like to try this recipe again when the grocery store has what I need.



Savory Breakfast Casserole
Serves: 3
WW Points: 6

Ingredients:
1 cup 2% milk
2oz. Cabot 75% Light Cheddar Cheese, shredded, divided
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
4 egg whites
2 whole eggs
7oz. Gimme Lean Sausage Style (or ground beef, whatever!), crumbled
2 1/2 slices reduced calorie wheat bread, cubed

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine the milk, 1/2 of the cheddar cheese, scallions, dry mustard, salt, pepper, egg whites and eggs, stirring with a whisk.

Spread bread cubes and crumbled meat substitute on the bottom of a 8x8" square pan or 8x5" loaf pan, coated with cooking spray. Top with egg mixture, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cover pan with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.


Tasty!
I haven't been cooking as much lately, I strugged with some vegetarian enchiladas last weekend that weren't very spectacular looking (but tasted just fine!). I did get a new kitchen table yesterday, and reorganized things so I can be a little more spread out when I'm cooking, so perhaps that was just the motivation I needed :)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Made it Meatless!

Me, I don't like meat. I'll eat chicken, I'll eat turkey, I even ate a piece of pig on Christmas. But I don't touch the red meat. It's been over two years since I gave it up, and I don't miss it at all.

But I also like a good casserole. They make me feel so... Midwestern. I'm not really sure what that means, I've been to Chicago once, and that didn't make me feel very Midwestern. But throwing ingredients in a pan, topping it with cheese and baking it just makes me feel all homey.

Trouble is, sometimes casseroles call for ground beef. Sure, I could substitute chicken, but why? Why, when there's a wonderful veggie meat called Gimme Lean out there. I make meatballs and burgers with this stuff, why not a casserole?

Why not!

Tonight for dinner, I made another Cooking Light recipe. One that I was a little wary of, because all of the reviews seemed to point towards it being rather flavorless. I'm not quite sure what these people were doing wrong, but I thought there was tons of flavor. I think I tossed a little too much nutmeg in the sauce, but that just warmed it up even more. And my fake ground beef was spectacular.



"Beef", Cheese, and Noodle Bake
Serves: 4
WW Points: 4

Ingredients:
4oz. uncooked whole wheat noodles
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 garlic clove, minced
8oz. Lightlife gimme lean, ground beef style, crumbled
1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup skim milk
1 tbsp all purpose flour
dash of nutmeg
3oz. Cabot 75% fat free cheddar cheese, shredded, divided

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Lightly coat pasta with cooking spray.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add onion and carrot; saute 4 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic, cook 1 minute. Add "meat", cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add tomato sauce, 1/4 tsp salt, and black pepper. Cook 2 minutes, or until most of the liquid evaporates.

Remove from heat and add in pasta, stirring to combine. Spread into an 8 x 8" baking pan coated with cooking spray.

In a small saucepan, place milk, flour, nutmeg, and a 1/4 tsp salt. Stir with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat for 1 - 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk until thickened. Add 2/3 of the cheese, stir until melted. Pour over the pasta mixuture, spreading it evenly over the top. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Makes me want to talk all Fargo-like, I tell you.

I also had a really nice post-shopping lunch at Panera today. If you get past all the sandwiches that are dripping with cheese and bacon fat, they really have some smart choices. I had half of the roast turkey sandwich on sourdough (mmm), a cup of low fat chicken noodle soup and an apple, all for 8 points. I like it when you can pick fruit with your meal without having to make a special request. It was a mighty fine apple, too.

Shopping consisted of Kohls and Michaels. I didn't go crazy like I usually do in Kohls. I got a new pair of pants for work, a pair of pants for the gym, a cute $5 shirt, two pairs of tights, and two pairs of boots. One pair is pink and fuzzy and you know the type. The fuzzy fake Ugg style usually makes my calves look like those huge turkey legs you get at Disney World, but these actually look good. And... I got a pair of mid-calf black and white and red plaid rain boots. Oh my! I love them. I was walking around in them while I was cooking just because they looked so cute. You never know when it's going to rain.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Leftovers (of leftovers)

So on Saturday I decided it was time to finish up the leftover turkey I had stashed in my fridge from Thanksgiving-ish time. I only had a good sized chunk of white meat left, and some Italian bread that my sister gave me at Christmas.. so.. what?

A turkey bread pudding, of course!

This tastes like a big hunk of the holidays, with the creamy stuffing and turkey and veggies. Next time, I may try this topped with cranberry sauce. I'm fairly positive there will be a next time. I adapted the recipe from Cooking Light, mainly just replacing the eggs with egg beaters and leaving out the dry mustard, as one of my dinner mates despises any kind of mustard and can taste even the slightest hint of it.

I didn't get a picture when it was fresh out of the oven, so I snapped a photo after I reheated the leftover slice for dinner tonight. It got a little too toasty, but just as tasty as a few days ago. And a little sauteed asparagus with fresh ground pepper on the side.



Turkey-Mushroom Bread Pudding
Serves: 4
WW Points: 4

Ingredients:
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 minced garlic cloves
4 oz cooked skinless light meat turkey, shredded
1/3 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 cup egg substitute
4 oz Italian bread, cut in 1" chunks
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, celery, onion, thyme, and garlic; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in turkey, salt, and black pepper. Remove mixture from heat, and cool slightly.

Combine milk, red pepper, and egg substitute in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in mushroom mixture and bread; toss well. Spoon into an 8 x 8-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

And that's it for the leftovers.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Out with the old

New year, new year. Happy? We'll see about that. New years always makes me sad. I know it's all about starting fresh and second chances and new possibilities, but i always tend to look at the old. The things that are ending, the things I wont get back. Let's face it, I just don't deal with change all that well. But there might be changes for the better in the new year. I'm at least hoping for some.

"Let it do what it do," as a good friend told me.

On New Years day, some of my family got together for an extra little Christmas, as not everyone was in town and there were still presents to be opened. It was really a nice time, even if I was a little edgy and hitting the box of wine (I haven't had boxed wine in so long, it still amuses the daylights out of me) a little too hard.

But regardless, we opened presents and talked and I played with my almost four year old cousin, which cheered me up some. It's amazing how big and smart and even more adorable he's getting. We had mostly a purchased lunch/dinner of sandwiches and wings and vegetables, but I made these really cute mini muffins to go with our desserts (which included cheesecake and some peanut butter pie thing that I wouldn't let myself eat, so I'm glad I made the muffins). Mini muffins are so adorable. I'm more a fan of big, bulging muffins, but it makes me giddy to pop these cute little suckers out of their tins.

I found this recipe in last month's (I think) Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I don't generally like applesauce in my baked goods, but I'll at least try it when the recipe actually calls for it and it's not just a random substitution. I think they came out pretty darn well.



Dark Chocolate Mini Muffins
Yields: 41 (recipe said 48, but I didn't get quite that many)
WW Points: 1 point for 1, 2 points for 2, 2.5 points for 3 (best bargain!)

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup fat-free skim milk
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp molasses
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat about 48 mini muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray, set aside. In a bowl combine flours, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, and 1/4 tsp salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside. In another bowl combine milk, applesauce, oil, molasses, vinegar, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture. Stir until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Stir in half the chocolate pieces.

2. spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each mini pan up to about 2/3 full. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate pieces. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm. Or cook completely; wrap tightly and freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat to serve.

If you don't have enough muffin cups, bake in batches. Cover and refrigerate muffin batter no longer than 30 minutes. Wash and prepare pan between batches.

I really like the sweetness of the two sugars and the balsamic vinegar in these muffins. Definitely makes for a dark chocolate taste. And they're so cute!

I'll be back with other new yearsish recipes soon, I made a really tasty dinner on Saturday night. But that's for another day!