Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chicken Cacciatore

  • 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 (4 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked whole-wheat spaghetti
Makes 4 Servings
  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, peppers, and mushrooms. Saute for 4 minutes until mushrooms release their juices.
  2. Add the chicken; sauté until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 15 minutes. Place spaghetti in a shallow bowl. Top with chicken and vegetable mixture.
Note: This recipe appears in the Weight Watchers KickStart Your Success booklet. This is a great way to kick-start your healthy lifestyle. If you're ever craving Italian food but you don't want to go to the restaurant, you can make this Italian classic at home in 30 minutes or less. This dish is heavenly delicious with or without the pasta. Don't forget to pound the chicken before you cook it because it will be easier to cook. I also highly recommend adding a splash of dry white wine when cooking the caccitore because wine always makes everything better. This Italian classic will quickly fill you up and leave you satisfied. One bite of this dish and you won't go out for Italian again (unless you're in Italy). 

Almond French Toast with Warm Blueberry Syrup

Blueberry Syrup:
  • 2 cups frozen unsweetened blueberries
  • 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp. granular sugar substitute, or to taste
French Toast:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup skim or 1 % milk
  • 1 tbsp. granular sugar substitute
  • 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • 4 slices whole-grain bread
  • 4 tsp. light olive oil
Makes 4 Servings
  1. For the syrup: In a nonaluminum saucepan, bring the blueberries to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the berries burst and the sauce thickens, about 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Stir in the sugar substitute; taste for sweetness and add more sugar substitute, if desired. Keep warm.
  2. While the berries are cooking, making the French toast: In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar substitute, almond extract, salt, and nutmeg. Add 2 slices of the bread and  soak for 30 seconds per side. Repeat with the remaining slices.
  3. In a skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan. Add 2 bread slices and cook until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and bread.
  4. Serve the French toast with 1/ 4 cup warm blueberry syrup per serving.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. I made this delicious treat for Easter and we loved it. This French toast can be enjoyed any day of the week. You can make the syrup in advance and it can stay in the fridge for up to a week. You can also use strawberries, raspberries and blackberries in place of the blueberries and the dish will still be delicious. You can also use vanilla extract in case you don't have any almond extract as well. You will never find this breakfast dish at any restaurant and the best part is you can make this in 20 minutes or less. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. almond extract
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted matzoh meal
  • 2 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
Makes 10 servings
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with parchment or wax paper round and spray with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium and heavy saucepan, stir together 3/4 cup of the sugar, the chocolate, water, and cocoa powder. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate melts completely and the mixture is smooth, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks, vanilla and almond extract; set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on low speed, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form, 3-5 minutes. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until it is fully absorbed. Continue beating until the mixture just forms stiff peaks.
  4. Add matzoh meal to the chocolate mixture, stirring until smooth. using a spatula, fold in 1/4 of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold the chocolate mixture back into the egg whites. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake until the cake is puffy and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry, with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 30 minutes. Cool completely on a rack (the cake will sink as it stands).
  5. Unmold the cake by sliding a thin knife blade around the sides  to free it from the pan, then release and remove the sides. Sprinkle the top with the confectioners' sugar just before serving.
Note: This recipe appears in the WW New Complete Cookbook. This  gluten-free chocolate cake is heavenly delicious not only for Passover but can be enjoyed year round for any occasion. This cake is like a soufflĂ© because of the combination of whipped egg whites, cream of tartar and matzoh cake meal; plus it puffs up in the oven and falls when it's taken out and the top crackles. AND....this cake has a fudgy taste to it and the combination of the vanilla and almond extract give this cake a nice aftertaste to it. I'm not Jewish and I never celebrated the Jewish holidays but I would totally bake and serve this cake year round regardless of the occasion.

Spicy Pork Skewers with Cashew Sauce

  • 8 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 (4 oz.) thin-cut boneless pork loin chops, well trimmed
  • 2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 oz. unsalted toasted cashews (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • lime wedges, for serving
Makes 4 (6-skewer) Servings
  1. Heat the broiler. Line a broiler pan with foil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 4 teaspoons of the soy sauce, the hot pepper sauce, and oil.
  3. Cut each pork lengthwise into 4 strips. Place the strips between 2 pieces of parchment or waxed paper. With a meat pounder or small, heavy skillet, pound the strips to about a 1/4-inch thickness. Add the pork to the soy sauce mixture and let marinate while you make the cashew sauce.
  4. In a small saucepan of boiling water, cook the garlic for 1 minute and remove. when cool enough to handle, peel and place in a mini food processor with the remaining 4 teaspoons soy sauce, the cashews, lime juice, and 1/2 cup water. Process to a smooth puree.
  5. Thread the pork strips onto 24 (6- to 8-inch) wooden or metal skewers and place on the broiler pan. Broil 6 inches from the heat, without turning, for 4 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through but still juicy.
  6. Divide the pork skewers among 4 plates and serve with individual bowls of the cashew sauce (about 2 1/2 tablespoons each) and lime wedges for squeezing.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. This is a great way to kick-start your diet and a healthy alternative to takeout. You can make this Southeast Asian dinner in 30 minutes or less. I never liked pork as a child but now I really love pork when it's seasoned and cooked properly. Normally, a satay sauce is made from peanuts but this version uses cashews instead and it's just as delicious. If you're on Phase 1, serve this protein with vegetables; Phase 2 with steamed rice. You can also use this sauce with grilled meat, poultry, seafood or even tofu. I also recommend using Lime Infused Extra-Virgin Olive Oil from the Imperial Olive in Williamsburg, VA. For more information, visit www.TheImperialOlive.com.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lemon-Caper Chicken

  • 4 (5 oz.) thin sliced chicken breast cutlets
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tsp. whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp. capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • lemon twists, for garnish (optional)
Makes 4 Servings
  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then lightly coat with the flour, using about 1 teaspoon per breast.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned and cooked through but still juicy, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, cover, and keep warm.
  3. Add the shallot and capers to the skillet and cook over low heat, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the broth and lemon juice and cook, stirring, until incorporated and thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in the parsley and immediately pour the sauce over the chicken. Serve warm, garnished with lemon twists if you'd like.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. If you're thinking about ordering takeout, PUT DOWN THE PHONE! This upscale chicken dinner can be made in 20 minutes or less and it tastes better than what you'd get at a fast food joint or at a chain restaurant. Who doesn't love the flavor combinations of lemon, olive oil and capers? This is a great dinner that can be enjoyed any day of the week. You can also use onions in place of the shallot and add a little garlic to the dish as well. Also, you can use white wine if you don't have any chicken broth or a little of both for more flavor. I also highly recommend using Lemon or Garlic Infused Olive Oil from the Imperial Olive in Williamsburg, VA. For more info, visit www.TheImperialOlive.com. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups zucchini, small or medium sized, raw, grated
  • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • cooking spray
  • parchment paper
Makes 12 Servings (1 9-inch bread)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, spray again, and dust lightly with flour. Shake off excess flour.
  2. Combine the flours, sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Sift if necessary to remove lumps.
  3.  Combine eggs, yogurt, and vanilla. Add zucchini and chocolate chips. Gently mix into dry ingredients. Do not overmix.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.
Note: This recipe appears in the New Sonoma Cookbook. Who knew that zucchini and chocolate would make a delicious combination and be good for you? If you're a fan of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, you will like this dessert. Plus, you won't miss the creamy frosting. Spring is here and summer is approaching and this is the perfect treat to enjoy for breakfast, dessert or even as a light snack during the day. Heck, you won't miss the butter on this bread. You could even add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds to the bread for an extra bit of crunch but it may affect the points value. You can also use shredded yellow squash in place of the zucchini and the chocolate bread will still be deliciously healthy. I also highly recommend using smaller loaf pans is you have them because you can always wrap them and freeze them or even give them as gifts.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup

  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 lbs. fresh tomatoes cored and coarsely chopped, or 3 (14.5-oz.) cans diced tomatoes
  • 12 cloves of garlic, minced (2 tbsp.)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 2 (14-oz.) cans chicken broth
  • 6 slices whole grain bread
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, shaved
Makes 6 Servings
  1. In a 4-quart Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Reserve 1 cup of the chopped fresh tomatoes or, if using canned tomatoes, reserve 1 can of tomatoes. Add remaining fresh tomatoes or undrained canned tomatoes, garlic, and crushed red pepper to hot oil in Dutch oven. Bring to boiling; reducing heat. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tomatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut or tear bread into 1-inch pieces. Place in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until toasted, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add zucchini; cook for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp-tender. Set aside.
  4. Transfer half of the tomato and broth mixture to a blender or food processor. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Repeat with remaining half of the mixture. Return all to the Dutch oven.
  5. If using canned tomatoes, drain the reserved can. Add reserved or canned tomatoes, the cooked zucchini, oregano and parsley to pureed mixture. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Heat through.
  6. Divide the soup among six soup bowls. Top with bread pieces; garnish with cheese.
Note: This recipe appears in the New Sonoma Cookbook. Sometimes a bowl of warm tomato soup is all you need to leave you satisfied.This soup is so deliciously rich you'll think there's cream in it. What makes this soup so rich and creamy is the pureed vegetables. The toasted bread gives the soup an extra kick of crunch. If you don't have any shaved Parmesan cheese, you can always used shredded Parmesan cheese and the soup will still be delicious. You can also toast the bread in a toaster and let them cool until you put them in the soup. The bread and the veggies will quickly fill you up. Since this is the Sonoma diet, the recommended wine to go with this dish would be Sauvignon blanc. Personally, I would drink any kind of  red or white wine with this soup because a glass of wine once in a while won't hurt you. One mouthful of this tomato soup and you'll never buy or eat canned  tomato soup from the store again.