Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pineapple Cinnamon Agua Fresca

  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. agave syrup
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pinch salt
Makes 4 Servings (1 cup per serving)
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Note: This recipe appears in the New Sonoma Cookbook. This is such a refreshing drink when you want to cleanse your palate. An agua fresca is Spanish for fresh water and it's a fresh fruit drink that hails from Mexico. This version is quite the standout because you can taste the combination of  pineapple, cinnamon and cucumber. Don't forget to peel the cucumber and remove the seeds fro mteh cucumber because the seeds can taste very bitter and you want a sweet drink. The agave nectar syrup acts as a sugar substitute and can be very sweet with the pineapple. If you want to add some fizz to your drink, use sparkling or seltzer water to the drink when serving. The seltzer water will wake up your taste buds and be very refreshing. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Grilled Skirt Steak with Peperonata

  • 2 lbs. beef skirt steak, fat removed
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, mashed to a paste
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups red bell peppers, julienned, rinsed and well drained
  • 1 cup onions, julienned, rinsed and drained well
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp. oregano, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp. capers, rinsed well
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Makes 8 Servings
  1. Season meat well with salt and pepper. let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a sealable plastic bag. Add seasoned meat; marinate in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  3. Preheat the grill over medium-high heat. Remove meat from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
  4. Remove the meat from the marinade. Brush off any large pieces of garlic or rosemary. Place on clean hot grill. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the juices start to puddle on top; then flip and cook on the other side to an internal temperature of 125 F. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add oil and peppers; sauté 2-3 minutes over high heat, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Add the onions and sauté for 2 minutes until wilted; season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and oregano and cook until aromatic; turn off heat and quickly deglaze with vinegar and agave syrup. The peppers should still be crisp. Stir in capers; adjust seasoning.
  6. Slice the meat against the grain. Serve on a bed of the peperonata.
Note: This recipe appears in the New Sonoma Cookbook. Don't even think about going to an Italian restaurant or a steakhouse. You can make this upscale steak dinner in 45 minutes or less. Peperonata is an Italian dish that consists of onions, peppers and tomatoes. It's usually served at room temperature with a variety of pairings such as chicken, pork loin chops, sirloin steak, seafood, bread or even as a side salad. This meal is perfect for summer because peppers are fresh in season. I highly recommend using yellow, red and green bell peppers to make this dish more colorful. This meal is a great way to kick-start your healthy lifestyle because it's got bold flavors and is colorful to look at. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chicken Dijonnaise with Tomato-Scallion Relish

  • 1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. fresh tarragon
  • 4 (5 oz.) thin sliced chicken breast cutlets
  • 8 oz. cherry tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Makes 4 Servings
  1. Heat the broiler. Line a broiler pan with foil.
  2. In a shallow bowl, combine the yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, and tarragon. Add the chicken cutlets one at a time and turn to coat. Transfer to the broiler pan and let stand while you prepare the relish.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, scallions, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Broil chicken 6 inches from the heat  for 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through but still juicy.
  5. Serve the chicken topped with tomato-scallion relish.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. Who says fast food isn't good for you? This is what I call an alternative to fast food and you can have this for lunch or dinner in 30 minutes or less. The combination of lemon, Dijon mustard and tarragon is absolutely divine. If you can't find thin-sliced chicken breasts, use regular boneless, skinless chicken breasts and pound them with a meat mallet or a heavy skillet to thin them out so they will cook faster. I also highly recommend adding 2-3 cloves of minced garlic to the Dijonnaise because garlic always makes everything taste better. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Red Snapper Veracruz

  • 1 1/4 cups canned diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, halved and seeded
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 (6 oz.) red snapper fillets, with skin
  • 1/4 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp. nonpareil capers, drained and rinsed
Makes 4 Servings
  1. In a blender, combine the tomatoes and their juice, onion, garlic, jalapeno, oregano, rosemary and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Puree until smooth.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Make a few 2-inch cuts in the skin side of the fillets, just through the skin (to prevent the fillets from curling). Season the snapper with the remaining  1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the fish to the skillet, skin-side down, and cook until skin is crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer fish to a platter.
  3. In the same skillet, combine the tomato mixture, olives and capers. Cook until flavors are combined, 3 minutes. Return the fish to the pan, skin-side up, and cook until the fish just flakes when tested with a fork, 2 minutes longer.
  4. Transfer the fish, skin-side up, to 4 shallow bowls and top evenly with the sauce. Serve hot.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. This is a bold way to kick-start your lifestyle because it's packed with lots of spicy flavor. It may look a little messy but it's really delicious. The jalapeno peppers give the dish a little kick of heat and the capers and olive add acidity to the dish. The snapper is so delicious is literally melts in your mouth. You can use tilapia, haddock or any other warm water fish, veal, skirt steak, chicken, turkey or pork with this sauce and your meal will still rock. if you're thinking about ordering fast food or take-out, PUT DOWN THE PHONE AND DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT GOING INTO THAT CAR!! You can make this upscale at home in 20 minutes or less and you'll be happy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Frozen Fruit Sorbet

  • 2 medium bananas
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh strawberries (optional)
  • waxed paper
Makes 4 Servings (1/2 per serving)
  1. Peel bananas and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place banana slices and strawberries in a waxed-paper-lined 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan. Cover and freeze for 1 1/2-2 hours or until completely frozen.
  2. In a food processor, combine frozen fruit, water, and lemon juice. Cover and process until smooth. If desired, garnish with fresh strawberries.
Note: This recipe appears in the New Sonoma Cookbook. This is such a fruity and tasty sorbet, you'll eat it again and aging. Plus, it's perfect  to enjoy on a hot summer day. I used fresh bananas and strawberries because they added so much tart, flavor and bold color to the sorbet. I highly recommend adding equal parts of lemon and lime juice for more flavor and zing to the sorbet. The fresh fruit is so ripe you won't miss the sugar in this sorbet and it's better than what you'd get at the ice cream parlor. This dish is a 5-Ingredient fix and will impress Claire Robinson I promise.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Artichoke, Roasted Peppers & Feta Egg Pockets

  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp. low-fat milk
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sliced artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup diced roasted red peppers
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat feta cheese (crumbled)
  • 2 large whole-wheat pita bread rounds, cut in half
Makes 4 Servings
  1. In a medium bowl, combine egg whites, eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Beat with a wire whisk or rotary beater until well mixed. Stir in artichoke hearts, peppers and basil.
  2. Lightly coat a large skillet with nonstick spray. Preheat over medium heat. Add eggs to skillet. cook, without stirring, until mixture begins to set on the bottom and  around the edges.
  3. Using a spatula or a large spoon, lift and fold the partially cooked eggs so the uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes or until eggs are cooked through but still glossy and moist. Remove from heat immediately. Fold in feta cheese.
  4. Open pita halves to form a pocket. Fill pita halves with eggs.
Note: This recipe appears in the New Sonoma Cookbook. Pita pockets filled with eggs, cheese and vegetables is so filling and delicious. I really loved these pita pockets because they were packed with real Mediterranean flavor with the vegetables and feta cheese. I highly recommend adding milk instead of water to the eggs because milk makes the eggs creamier. You can use goat cheese, mozzarella or Parmesan cheese in place of the feta and your egg pockets will still be delicious.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Grilled Shrimp Salad with Chile-Lime Dressing

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 12-16 jumbo shrimp (1-11/2 lbs.) peeled & deveined, tails left on
  • 4-6 scallions, each cut into two (2-inch) pieces
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small jalapenos, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 cups mixed greens, such  as frisse, mizuna, radish shoots, and raddichio
  • 1 medium papaya, seeded and diced
  • 1 medium avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
Special Equipment:
  • 4 (12-inch) skewers
Makes 4 Servings (2 cups per serving)
  1. For the shrimp: In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Add shrimp and scallions and toss to coat; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. For the salad: In a small bowl, whisk together, lime juice, olive oil, jalapenos, black pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon salt; let stand at room temperature while shrimp is marinating. In a large bowl, combine greens, papaya, avocado and red bell pepper.
  3. Generously coat a grill or grill pan with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Alternately thread shrimp and scallions onto 4 skewers. Lightly sprinkle shrimp and scallions with salt and pepper and grill, turning once and basting with any remaining marinade, until shrimp just turn pink, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove shrimp and scallions from skewers and add to salad mixture. Add dressing and toss gently. Arrange salad on 4 plates and serve.
WW POINTS VALUE: 8 pts. with or without the papaya
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Taste of Summer Cookbook.  It may look a little chaotic but it's really delicious. If you're on Phase 1, omit the papaya and the salad will still be yummy. The combination of lime juice, olive oil, garlic and chiles is so nice because it's got a hot and cool feeling: heat from the chiles and coolness from the lime juice. The leafy greens and bell pepper add crunch and the avocado adds a touch of creaminess to the salad. This salad is an elegant gourmet salad that is worth the time and  effort. It's packed with color and flavor and your dinner guests will be very impressed with this sophisticated salad. I highly recommend using Lime-Infused Olive Oil from the Imperial Olive in Williamsburg, VA for an authentic Latin taste. For more information, visit  It's also a great salad to cook when you're watching a  baseball game. I find that cooking a South Beach diet dish before watching your favorite sports team. It seems every time I cook a South Beach Diet dish, my team does well.