Aug 15, 2009

Gingersnap Peach Pie

There's nothing better than dessert...or perhaps there's nothing better than dessert that will allow you to still be able to slip into your skinny jeans this fall. Enter Weight Watchers Gingersnap Peach Pie. The contrast of the spicy, gingersnap crust with the sweet, juicy peaches was incredible. It had just the right amount of sweetness and oh, was it simple. I chose to leave the skin on my peaches for a rustic-looking dessert, but they could certainly be removed. You can have your pie and eat it too. For you Weight Watchers, it has a points value of 3.

2 pound(s) peach(es), yellow or white variety
1/3 cup(s) sugar
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. Butter
4 oz gingersnap(s), about 18 cookies

Preheat oven to 400 degrees . Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Cut each peach half into four slices . Combine peaches, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and cornstarch in a medium bowl; set aside . Melt butter in microwave or on stove top. Crush gingersnaps into crumbs; place in a small bowl. Pour melted butter into crumbs and combine thoroughly . Pat crumb mixture into bottom of a 9-inch ceramic or glass pie plate; make sure crumbs are evenly distributed . Starting at edge of pie plate, arrange peach slices in concentric circles so that they cover entire surface of pie and form a petal-like pattern . Pour any remaining liquid from peach mixture over top of pie so it is evenly distributed . Bake pie in bottom 1/3 of oven for 20 minutes; reduce heat to 325ºF and bake for 40 minutes more . Remove from oven and cool completely in pie plate on a wire rack (about 2 hours) . Slice into eight pieces just before serving . Yields one piece per serving

Aug 13, 2009

Chicken Stuffed with Cream Cheese and Chives

Finding yourself stuck in a rut when it comes to preparing chicken breasts? Shake up your routine with this simple recipe. Cream cheese can be found in many of our kitchens, but if you don't happen to have chives, simply switch it up. Try dried seasoning such as Italian dried herbs, garlic powder, chopped onion or whatever sounds delicious to you. Serve with your favorite vegetable, potato, rice or a side of crusty French bread.

Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thawed)
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup cream cheese (I used light to save calories)
1 tbsp. fresh chives, finely-chopped
1/4 tsp. garlic powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Using two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap (one on top, one on bottom), cover chicken and pound until thin . Mix together cream cheese, chives and garlic powder . In the center of each chicken breast, place 1/4 the cream cheese mixture . Roll up the meat and secure with toothpicks . Salt and pepper the outside of each chicken breast . Heat oil in pan over medium heat . Place chicken in pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side (enough time to achieve a golden sear on each side) . Remove pan from burner and place inside oven . Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through . When finished, remove chicken and allow to rest 5 minutes . Serve with extra chives sprinkled on top for garnish, if desired

NOTE: Be sure to use a pan that is oven-safe. I chose to use a stainless steel pan with stainless steel handle. Please remember that the pan's handle will be HOT when removing it from the oven. (I know, I know, but grabbing the handle is a force of habit!)

Aug 10, 2009

Simple Southwestern Soup

Quick, easy and flavorful--this soup is the ideal quick-fix meal. Southwestern-style comfort food in less than 30 minutes? Yes, it's that simple.

2 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can red beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can diced Italian-style tomatoes, with juice
2 cups stock, chicken or vegetable (to create a vegetarian dish)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried cilantro

Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat . Add garlic and onions and saute until tender . Slowly add stock and then beans, corn and tomatoes . Add cumin, salt, lime juice, pepper and cilantro . Stir well . Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes . Serve with dollop of light or fat free sour cream and tortilla chips

Note: To make the tortilla chips shown in the photo, preheat oven to 375 degrees . Cut whole grain tortilla into triangles . Brush each side with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper, sea salt, dried cilantro and garlic powder on baking sheet/stone . Bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown

Aug 6, 2009

Slow-Cooked Barbecue Pork with Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce

These are such versatile recipes. Switch out the pork for beef or chicken if your tastes call for something different or if that's what is handy in your freezer. The slow-cooker makes the meat extra tender and the onions and garlic infuse it with flavor.

I've been diligently working to find the perfect barbecue sauce (well, perfect to me--I prefer a sweet, tangy concoction). With this sauce I've found it. Double the recipe if you want more and store in an air-tight container to use as your "house" barbecue sauce.

Pork Ingredients
1 1/2 to 2 pounds pork spare ribs
1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, quartered
2 cups water

In a slow-cooker add water, spare ribs (thawed or frozen), garlic and onions . Cook on low for 5 hours . Remove ribs from slow-cooker (discard onion/garlic/water) . Remove any bones, etc. from meat and discard . Place meat in a large bowl; using a fork, shred meat until it reaches desired consistency or bite-sized pieces . Add barbecue sauce (RECIPE BELOW) . Mix well . Serve on buns or sandwich rolls

Barbecue Sauce Ingredients
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. butter or margarine
2 tsp. hickory smoked salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. celery seed (or celery salt)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Over medium heat, in a saucepan, mix tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar and butter . Mix well . Add hickory smoked salt, paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed, salt and pepper . Mix well . Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes . Serve with barbecued pork (above) or use as your standard barbecue sauce

Simple, Savory Brussels Sprouts

This is a divinely-simple recipe that ensures flavorful, perfectly-cooked sprouts each and every time. Brussels sprouts make a great accompaniment to a variety of main dishes. I love them served with chicken. Not too familiar with these petite little orbs? It's time to add a new vegetable to your arsenal.

Serves two
20 small Brussels Sprouts, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper

Clean Brussels sprouts by slicing off small portion of ends and removing any discolored leaves .
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil . Add sprouts and boil for 8 minutes . Remove, drain and set aside . In a saute pan, heat oil and butter (medium temperature) . Add walnuts and cook 1 minute . Reduce heat . Add Brussels sprouts and toss to coat with butter, oil and walnuts . Cook 2-3 minutes . Season with salt and pepper . Serve

Aug 3, 2009

Mini Eggplant Parmesans

This Eggplant Parmesan recipe was inspired my a trip to my local farmers market. While visiting one of the stands, my husband and I spotted the most unusual vegetable we had ever laid eyes on. Purple-streaked, u-shaped and skinny. The vendor assured us that it wasn't some mutant vegetable, but indeed an Oriental variety of eggplant. I must have appeared to be quite intrigued by the nature of this plant--the woman sent it home with me for free. Because of the delicate nature of its variety, this particular eggplant does not need to be skinned.
This dish was great. It was easy to prepare and had incredible flavor. My husband even went so far as to say he felt like he was eating at a restaurant. Another great thing about these mini pots o' eggplant is that traditionally, this dish is served as an entree, not a side. I served mine with Italian-seasoned chicken breast and a slice of toasted, buttered french baguette.
Makes four individual servings
2 medium eggplants, Oriental variety, sliced into rounds (If using a normal eggplant, use one small, remove skin and cut into 2 inch, flat discs)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/3 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. olive oil
Cooking spray
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Grease cookie sheet or baking stone with olive oil . Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic powder in small bowl . Dip each eggplant round (top and bottom) in egg white and then coat thoroughly with bread crumb mixture . Lay each round on a cookie sheet . Bake for 25 minutes, flipping each round over half-way through . Spray four baking ramekins with cooking spray . Layer eggplant, then tomato sauce and then cheese and repeat until each ramekin is 3/4 full (ending with a layer of cheese) . Bake ramekins in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until cheese/tomatoes are bubbling . Serve in ramekins . Top with extra Parmesan cheese, if desired

Butterscotch Bars

The recipe for these Butterscotch Bars is courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine online. Simply stated, these indulgent dessert bars were a sweet success. While the outside of the bars is golden and crispy, the inside oozes buttery, butterscotch perfection. I would also add that these were simple to make and weren't ingredient-heavy (making them even more simple). To add pizazz, these bars could be drizzled with some reserved, melted butterscotch chips and/or served with a scoop of simple vanilla ice cream.

YIELDS: 36 servings (one bar)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
5 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
9 oz. all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Cooking spray
3/4 cup fat free sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups butterscotch morsels (about 8 oz.)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Making the Butterscotch Bars
Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Combine sugar and butter in large bowl . Stir in vanilla and egg . Weigh or lightly spoon flour into measuring cup(s); level with a knife . Combine flour, oats, 1/2 tsp. salt and baking soda in a bowl . Add oat mixture to sugar mixture . Stir with a fork until combined (mixture will be crumbly) . Place three cups of oat mixture in the bottom of a 9"x13" baking pan coated with cooking spray; press into bottom of pan; set aside . Place sweetened condensed milk, butterscotch morsels and 1/8 tsp. of salt in a microwave-safe bowl . Microwave on HIGH one minute or until butterscotch morsels are melted, stirring every 20 seconds . (IF USING WALNUTS, add to butterscotch mixture now and stir in) . Scrape mixture into baking pan, spreading evenly over crust . Sprinkle evenly with remaining oat mixture, gently pressing into butterscotch mixture . Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown . Place pan on cooling rack, run knife around outside edge . Cool COMPLETELY before serving