Monday, January 30, 2012

Quick Chicken Stir Fry

"I'm always looking for different ways to make chicken. My entire family loves chicken so I try to make it as often as possible without it getting boring. Changing it up is a challenge. I make chicken parm, chicken cutlets, lemon chicken, (I sound like a Bubba Gump commercial).  I recently found a great sauce recipe online and decided to try it on chicken stir fry. This dish literally took me 30 minutes.  I like to make it with brown rice but you also can make it with regular noodles or rice noodles. Add some edamame beans and you have a great Chinese meal without the cost of takeout. Now if I can only get the fortune cookies to give me the winning lottery numbers!" —Lisa

You'll need:
1 ½ lbs boneless chicken breast, sliced thin
Brown rice or noodles
1 package frozen Birds Eye pepper stir fry
1 package frozen broccoli florets
1 small can water chestnuts
Peanut oil
Red pepper flakes

For the sauce you'll need:
¼ cup chicken broth
2 tsp corn starch
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar

Mix ingredients for the sauce and set aside.

Coat the chicken breast slices in the red pepper flakes. The amount depends on how hot you like it. The more flakes, the hotter it will be. 

Heat a wok or large fry pan.  Two turns of the pan of the peanut oil and get the oil hot.

Add the chicken and cook until just white. Add the vegetables and water chestnuts. Cook through. Add the sauce and cook until it thickens.  If you like your dish more saucy, just make extra and add. 

Serve over the rice or noodles.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Jeremy's Hero

"When we heard about Jeremy's Heroes Ladies Night Out event, we wanted the attendees to walk away with something that was all about Jeremy. We asked his wife Lyz if Jeremy like sandwiches. Her answer was a resounding "Yes!" and she told us some of his favorite meats, cheeses and dressing. So the Cousins created Jeremy's Hero—a perfect blend of roast beef, provolone cheese, onions, pesto and mayo, all grilled to perfection. We think he would have loved it!"

For two sandwiches you'll need:
1 Sweet onion
1/2 lb Italian roast beef, sliced
1/4 lb provolone, sliced
Pesto sauce
2 ciabatta rolls
Panini press or heavy grill pan

Slice the onion into rings and sauté in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Cook until the onions are almost caramelized. Add your favorite pesto sauce to the mayonnaise. Blend well. Now build your sandwich! On the rolls spread the mayo mixture on the top half of the roll. Add the roast beef, layer a couple of pieces of provolone cheese and top it off with the onions. Cool in a panini press until cheese melts and the top of the bread is crispy. If you don't have a panini press, put the sandwich on a grill pan and put another heavy grill on top to press the sandwich down. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Basil Dip

"I wanted a healthier alternative to guacamole for last Sunday’s big Giants game so I decided to create a basil dip that is a healthy, hearty substitute as well as a great spread for my husband’s sandwiches throughout the week. I had much success...just like the Giants! Looks like I'll be making it for the Super Bowl, too!" —Jennifer

What you’ll need:
Basil, a good handful
Olive oil
2 garlic cloves (on the larger side)
½ cup sweet corn
Cherry tomatoes, about 8
1/3 cup pignoli nuts
Crushed red pepper flakes
6 oz container of plain Greek yogurt (I use Chobani)

Place the garlic, basil, corn, cherry tomatoes and pine nuts into a blender or food processor. As you blend, add light olive oil until the mixture becomes thick and creamy. Mix the basil mixture with the yogurt and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with your favorite chip. And remember, this works as an amazing alternative to mayo on your lunch sandwiches. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pork Chops in Cranberry and Onion Gravy

“I’ve gotten some of the best recipes at staff meetings. Seriously. As we sat around waiting to get to the day’s agenda, our office of mostly women would talk about the previous night’s dinner or what we were planning for the upcoming week’s meals. On this particular day Deb, a big fan of her slow cooker, told me about this easy and delicious pork dish. The best part is that you can also use chicken to change it up once in a while. I’ve made this several times and it’s just about the only way my family will eat pork chops. If you’re not a fan of pork, try it with chicken thighs. You’ll love it!” Diana

For a family of four you’ll need:
5 pieces of thick cut boneless pork chops, sliced through the middle to get two thinner chops from each. (You can also use chops with the bone in.)
2 14-oz cans of whole berry cranberry sauce
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
1 beef bouillon cube (optional)

In a large bowl combine the two cans of cranberry and the onion soup mix. Mix well. Fill one of the cans 3/4 of the way with water and add to the mix. Blend well. Spread a coating of the cranberry mixture on the bottom of the crock pot. Place the chops on top of the sauce in a single layer. Put more cranberry mixture on top and the bouillon cube. Add the remaining pork chops. Pour the rest of the cranberry on top. I set my Crock Pot on high for six hours, but checked it after 5 and turned it to warm. You don’t want to overcook the pork, especially boneless which tends to be drier. 

Serve with mashed potatoes because the gravy from the cranberry is great on the potatoes. Complement with a side of baby arugula topped with dried cranberries (do you see a theme here?) and some pignoli nuts. Dinner is served! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crock Pot Vegetarian Chili

"While my hubby Phillip was photographing the Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade yesterday, I worked out, did laundry, cleaned the house, put the baby down for a nap, showered AND made a big pot of vegetarian chili. How did I get all that done and still have time to make a delicious dinner? With help of my handy dandy Crock Pot, of course. You'll love this recipe and love even more that it's made in the slow cooker because it gives you time to do everything else!" —Jill

You'll need:
1 can tomato puree
1 box or bag of brown long grain rice (you can substitute white rice if you prefer)
2 ears of corn scraped off the cob (you can shortcut and use frozen or canned)
1 bottle of your favorite beer
2 cups vegetable stock
1 container tofu, extra firm (if tofu is too scary for you, you can omit)
1 can black beans
2 large tomatoes, chopped (put a handful aside for topping)
1 small onion, diced (put a handful aside for topping)
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 small jar of salsa
2 packages of low-sodium chili seasoning (or make yourself with chili powder, cumin, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper)
Sour Cream
Avocado, sliced
Tortilla chips

Put all the ingredients into slow cooker and set on high (4-6 hours). When done, top with diced raw onion, diced tomatoes, sour cream, avocado and tortilla chips. It's that simple. Enjoy! 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Four Cheese Baked Macaroni and Cheese

"Sometimes you just have to take a break from your diet and binge…on cheese. My family loves mac and cheese, so when I came up with my version of the “Blue Box” they loved it. I cheat a little and add a jar of prepared cheese sauce to give it that little extra something, but you can really taste the asiago cheese in this recipe and we love it—It’s creamy and gooey and loaded with cholesterol I’m sure, but hey you only live once, right? Pair this with a nice, hot Italian Panini and you have a meal that will not only fill your belly but make you smile like a kid again!" —Lisa 

It's so cheesy good, it needed a close-up! 
You'll need: 
½ stick butter plus 1/8 of a stick for topping
3 tbs flour
1 lb Cavatappi macaroni
¼ lb Gruyere cheese, cubed
½ lb Asiago cheese, shredded
¼ lb Sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1 jar Ragu Cheddar Sauce
Parmesan cheese
Italian bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Boil the macaroni.  Make a rue by melting ½ stick of butter in a large pot on medium/low heat.  Once the butter has melted, add the flour and mix well. It will be thick. Add the Gruyere, asiago and cheddar cheese. Add the cream and mix well. Continue to mix as the cheese melts together; it will be thick. Add the jar of Ragu cheddar sauce and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste. Continue to mix, melting the cheese slowly.  Stir until the sauce is smooth.

Meanwhile, drain the macaroni keeping ½ cup of the pasta water aside. 

Spray the bottom of a baking dish with Pam. 

Add the reserved macaroni water to the cheese sauce and mix well. 

Pour the macaroni into prepared baking dish and pour cheese sauce over it. Mix well making sure all the macaroni is covered. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the entire dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the parmesan cheese.  Top with several pats of butter. Bake 10 -15 minutes, and put the broiler on the last 3 minutes to brown the top.

My family loves to add some Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. I told ya...“We put that S&*% on everything!” 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bianca's Lentil Soup

"Here is our maternal grandmother's lentil soup recipe that many of you asked for after we posted about her tradition of making it on New Year's Day. If you did not partake in the eating of lentils for buono fortuna (good luck) in the new year, whip yourself up a batch...there's still time. The grace period is two weeks (we just made that up) so you're still in the clear. But don't wait too long; you don't want to push your luck of the lentil!" —Lisa and Diana

You'll need:
1 bag (16 oz.) lentils. This makes a big pot, so if you are cooking just for yourself, cut the recipe by at least half.
1 dozen baby carrots or fresh carrots if you prefer, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Orzo (Italian for "barley") Orzo pasta is also known as risoni (big rice). 

In a large pot cover lentils with water and bring to a boil for 5-10 minutes. Then, as our grandmother says, "throw out that first water," which means drain the lentils and then add fresh water (about 2 quarts). Add the carrots, garlic, and olive oil. Bring to a slow boil and then let simmer. 

In a separate pot cook the orzo. Add to the soup when done. The amount to add depends on how thick you like your soup; the more orzo, the thicker the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste, top with parmesan cheese and enjoy...then go buy a lottery ticket! 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Healthy Buffalo Egg Breakfast Sandwich

During the week it's usually hard for me to cook breakfast since I'm up at 4 a.m. and out the door by 4:30. Breakfast Monday through Friday is usually "grab-and-go"—a banana or protein bar.So on the weekends I really enjoy my mornings and like to treat myself to a hot breakfast without undoing my week of healthy eating. I love getting up with my 1-year-old Elliot while my husband sleeps in. I brew some fresh coffee and cook a nutritious breakfast. I love vegetables so one morning I looked in the fridge to see what I had. I always have eggs, and my two favorite vegetables are spinach and tomatoes, which I always have in stock. I'm usually at the local farmer's market every other day to make sure I have spinach and tomatoes in the house. I grabbed the eggs, spinach and tomatoes, but I wasn't quite sure what else I wanted to do. I had some whole grain loaf so I sliced it thin, put it in the oven, and toasted it until it was crunchy. I put Frank's Red Hot Sauce on everything, particularly on eggs, and when I think hot sauce I think of a cool dip like ranch or blue cheese. Luckily I had some fat-free ranch and, let's face it, anything is fun to eat when you find a way to dip it in something. The eggs, vegetables, hot sauce, ranch on the toasty was a perfect combination. What a sandwich! I loved it so much I made it the next day, too. Oh, and it takes about eight minutes to prepare. Hmmm...if I get up at 3:45 a.m. on weekdays, this breakfast sandwich just might have a shot!  —Jill

You'll need:
Whole grain bread (I use whole grain loaf), 2 slices
1 egg and 2 egg whites
1 cup spinach, chopped
1 small tomato, diced
Fat-free ranch dressing
Frank's Red Hot Sauce
Black pepper
Red pepper flakes

In a large skillet crack one egg and two egg whites. Add pepper, red pepper flakes and fold in the spinach and tomato. As the egg cooks in the form of an omlette, flip it over and make sure it cooks evenly. Top the eggs with a  few dashes of hot sauce. Place on one slice of the toasted whole grain bread. Spread the ranch dressing on the other piece of bread and top sandwich. Add a small side of the fat free ranch for dipping. Garnish with chives. You can even add a side of your favorite fruit. Grab a cup of freshly brewed coffee and enjoy. Now that's a Good Morning! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fishing for a Dinner Deal

"I wanted to begin the new year on a healthy note so I decided that our first family dinner of 2012 would be fish. Whenever I know I am making fish for dinner that night, I stop into the local A&P where one or more types of fish are usually on the Manager's Special for half price because it has to be sold that day. Today it was the swordfish, but only one 1-pound piece was to my liking, so I grabbed it (half off $10.90—score!) and decided to make some other fish we all like. The salmon fillet was $8.99 a pound (not bad, so I asked for piece that was a little over 1.5 pounds) and the tuna steak looked too good to pass up, even at $11.99 a pound. I picked out a piece that was just over a half a pound. I let the salmon sit in a lemon-garlic marinade for about an hour. I threw a few pats of butter on top before baking it at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. I coated the top of the tuna steak with some extra virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, salt, pepper and lemon slices and baked it at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. I put a little garlic salt, pepper, and rosemary on the swordfish steak and seared it in a hot, oiled skillet for 2-3 minutes on each side before putting it in the oven on 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. On the side I made baked sweet potatoes and roasted peppers. I think we're off to a healthy start. Only 363 more days to go!"Diana  

Clockwise from top left: Baked sweet potato, roasted peppers, salmon, tuna steak, swordfish.