Friday, September 30, 2011

Day #271 - Weekend Getaway, Part 1

I am in Kansas City this weekend for a scrapbooking meetup with some of my friends from Scrap Girls.   So my next few food posts will reflect several dining out and fast food experiences...

Starting with lunch.   

Shortly after arriving in Kansas City, I met up with some of my friends at the Cracker Barrel near our hotel.   At the recommendation of my friend Sandi, I ordered their featured seasonal salad - the Roasted Turkey N' Cranberry Salad. Oven-roasted turkey with fresh diced apples, sliced bacon, and cranberries served over a bed of fresh greens and spring mix. Topped with our cinnamon-spiced croutons and blue cheese crumbles. Served with country pepper vinaigrette on the side.
In fact, all five ladies at the table ordered this same salad.  It was delicious!!   I've had salads with similar ingredients before, but this one had a pleasant surprise - the cinnamon-spiced croutons.  Yum! 

We spent the rest of the afternoon & evening hanging out in the hotel meeting room, playing with our laptops, working on digital scrapbooking projects, and chatting.   Rather than shut everything down and pack up, we decided to order in pizza for dinner.    I made a health-conscious decision to walk next door to Wendy's and purchase a salad, so I would fill up on that instead of over-indulging in pizza.    I bought their Chicken Cobb salad - lettuce, tomatoes, diced egg, bacon, blue cheese, grilled chicken, and fat-free French dressing.

We ordered the pizza from Minsky's - a gourmet pizza chain found in Kansas City and surrounding cities.  As a group, we decided on two varieties: the Jumbo Combo (Pepperoni, American and Italian sausage, hamburger, black olives, green peppers, mushrooms and onions) and the Nature's Choice (Artichoke hearts, zucchini, green peppers, mushrooms and onions. Topped with mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes and slivered almonds).

The salad was pretty filling, but I still treated myself to one slice of the Jumbo Combo pizza for dinner.   

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day #270 - BBQ Cheddar Burger

Tonight I took the leftover Spinach & Mushroom Hamburger patty and reheated it in the microwave.  I then served it on a whole grain sandwich round with baby spinach leaves, a little BBQ sauce, and a slice of cheddar cheese.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day #269 - Autumn Harvest Pork Roll-Ups


Tonight I made these small Autumn Harvest Pork Roll-Ups, with steamed broccoli on the side.   Here is how I made them, complete with photos of each step:

I started with a package of thin "Breakfast" pork chops, but you could also take boneless pork chops and pound them thin:

I seasoned the chops with a little salt, pepper, and Jamaican Jerk rub (from Pampered Chef).

Next, I used a Food Chopper to finely dice 1/2 small red apple (I used a Gala apple) and 5-6 baby portabella mushrooms.  I mixed these together in a bowl with 1 tbsp dried herbs (basil, parsley, chive):

I took a seasoned pork chop, added a large spoonful of the mushroom-apple mixture to the middle, rolled the pork around the filling, and used a toothpick to hold the rolls together.  I repeated with each pork roll, and placed them in a 9x9 inch baking dish.  Any leftover filling I sprinkled over and around the pork rolls:

I baked the pork rolls in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes, then lowered the heat to 365 and continued baking for an additional 20 minutes, until the pork was fully cooked.

The mushroom-apple filling was a nice autumnal complement to the pork, and the presentation of the dish wasn't too terrible either!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day #268 - Chicken & Ricotta Bowties

Tonight is one of my "Leftovers Makeover" dishes.

I took half of the leftover Baked Chicken Breast Stuffed with Ricotta, Spinach & Tomato from Friday, chopped the chicken into small pieces, and put the chicken chunks & ricotta-spinach-tomato filling into a microwavable bowl.  I reheated this in the microwave for a couple minutes while a serving of whole grain bowtie pasta was cooking away on the stove.  

After the pasta was cooked and drained, I stirred in the chicken, filling, and a couple tablespoons of grated Parmesean cheese, until the cheeses covered the pasta.

There was enough ricotta cheese in the chicken filling to serve as a nice sauce on the pasta, and the chicken, tomatoes, and spinach completed the dish.   A really nice pasta dinner, considering the majority of it started as leftovers!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day #267 - Spinach & Mushroom Hamburger Patties

Tonight I made some gourmet hamburger patties.

I took a small package of lean ground beef and mixed in a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, diced baby portabella mushrooms, thinly sliced fresh baby spinach, plus a light seasoning of salt & crushed black pepper.   I formed the beef mixture into two large patties, pressing them thinly so they would cook faster.

Once my large skillet was well-heated, I seared the burgers until browned on both sides.  I then lowered the heat, covered the skillet, and let the burgers steam-cook for a few additional minutes until the inside of the burger was just slightly pink.

I topped my burger with a handful of shredded cheese, and served alongside some cherry tomatoes and dill pickle slices (which I ate before taking the photo).

The Worcestershire sauce and mushrooms added a nice steakhouse flavor to the ground beef, while the spinach added little flecks of color and hidden vitamins.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day #266 - OF Roast Beef Sandwich

In case it isn't obvious from the photo, the "OF" in my title refers to my Open-Faced sandwich. 

I took a piece of whole grain bread, topped it with layers of baby spinach, deli roast beef, and swiss cheese, and then cooked it in my toaster oven for about a minute (or two), until the cheese was melted.  

My side salad was chopped cucumbers, green bell peppers, and halved grape tomatoes tossed in balsamic vinaigrette.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day #265 - Malones

Tonight I went out to dinner with my mom and dad.   We went to Malone's, which you might remember I blogged about back on Labor Day.   Tonight I again ordered the sirloin steak, with sides of steamed broccoli and rice pilaf.  The sirloin steak was as juicy and flavorful as I remembered.  Delicious!!

P.S.   Can you believe we're on Day #265 already??  Only 100 days left to this year-long project....

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day #264 - Baked Chicken Breast Stuffed with Ricotta, Spinach & Tomatoes

Tonight's dinner was inspired by a recipe photo I found earlier today on Pinterest.  Clicking on the photo led me to the "For the Love of Cooking" blog, where I found a recipe for "Panko Crusted Chicken Stuffed with Ricotta, Spinach, Tomatoes, and Basil".  Since I already had the majority of the necessary ingredients in my fridge, I decided to try it for supper.

I started by preheating my oven to 400 degrees.  I mixed together the following ingredients:
  • 1 cup of low fat ricotta cheese
  • Small handful of baby spinach, chopped
  • Small handful of grape tomatoes, diced (with seeds squooshed out into the sink)
  • 3 Baby Bella mushrooms, diced
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed
I then butterflied two large chicken breasts the best that I could, forming a pocket into which I stuffed the filling.  Using several toothpicks to hold the chicken breast back together, I placed the stuffed breasts onto a large stoneware baking dish (with sides).   I drizzled a little olive oil over the breasts and seasoned them with salt & pepper.

I also tossed some broccoli florets and halved brussels sprouts in a little olive oil, and placed them on the same baking dish as the chicken.

I let the chicken and vegetables bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the chicken was cooked through.

These were delicious!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day #263 - Chicken Bowtie Soup

Tonight I was craving some comfort food.  A big pot of soup should do the trick!

I started by chopping a large chicken breast into chunks and sauteeing them in a skillet.

While the chicken cooked, I heated a little olive oil in my soup pot and then added 2 crushed cloves of garlic.   I let the garlic cook down for a couple minutes, before adding some diced celery and bell pepper (both red & green) and seasoning with a little crushed black pepper.  I continued sauteeing for another 4-5 minutes over medium heat until they were tender.   I added a couple large handfuls of frozen shelled edamame, the cooked chicken chunks, 1 dried bay leaf, and 1/2 box of chicken stock.  I brought the soup to a boil, and then dumped in a couple handfuls of whole grain bowtie pasta.  Continued cooking at a boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta was cooked.

Then I served up a large bowlful of the soup and savored its comforting warmth.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day #262 - T&T (Tuna & Tomato)

Earlier this week, I made a large batch of tuna salad for my lunch.   For tonight's quick & easy dinner, I sliced a large tomato into wedges, and topped with a large spoonful of the tuna salad.  

My tuna salad consisted of tuna, finely diced celery, chopped red romaine lettuce, light mayonnaise, garlic salt, and crushed black pepper. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day #261 - Mixed Greens Chef Salad

The problem with buying bags or containers of mixed field greens and baby spinach is they always get wilted and slimy before I can eat it all.   Tonight I noticed that my greens were starting to turn bad, so I made a huge salad for dinner to use all of the "good" greens.    Mixed field greens, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, diced red & green bell pepper, chopped deli turkey, cooked & cooled edamame, shredded cheese, and a light Italian dressing.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day #260 - Chicken Stir Fry

Tonight I cooked some chicken stir fry for dinner.

I cut red bell pepper, snap peas, and chicken into large chunks, and cooked them in a some olive oil.   For the sauce, I mixed together some red pepper hummus, chicken broth, and low-sodium soy sauce.   Once the chicken was fully cooked, I added the sauce to the skillet, and simmered until the sauce was thickened.   I served my stir fry over a bed of cooked quinoa.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day #259 - Turkey Tomato Melt


Tonight I made Turkey Tomato Melts for dinner.  I started with a base of whole grain Sandwich Thins.  Spread on a light layer of sun-dried tomato hummus. Topped with thinly sliced deli turkey, a thin slice of tomato, a sprinkled of black pepper and dried Italian herbs, and a layer of shredded Cheddar & Mozzarella cheeses.  I set these melts aside while I prepared my side dish.

I chopped some broccoli and cauliflower florets and put them in a large Ziploc bag.  I drizzled them with a little EVOO, and seasoned them with salt, pepper, and Italian herbs.  Then sealed up the bag, and shook like crazy until all the vegetables were coated.  I roasted the broccoli & cauliflower on my stoneware ban in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. 

After 10 minutes, I placed the melts on the stoneware pan, lowered the oven to 365-degrees, and baked for another 8-10 minutes until the cheese was melted.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day #258 - Tomato Chicken Sautee

Tonight I made this Tomato Chicken Sautee.   I started by cutting a chicken breast into 1-inch chunks, and sauteeing it  in some olive oil until browned on all sides.   While the chicken was cooking, I cut a zucchini into  sticks, and halved some cherry tomatoes.   Once the chicken was browned, I tossed in the zucchini and tomatoes, seasoned with salt & pepper, and added a splash of chicken stock and V-8 tomato juice.    I let this mixture simmer on the stove for 10-15 minutes, until the zucchini was tender and most of the liquid had reduced into a thick sauce.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day #257 - Chili Salad

Tonight I made a "Taco" Salad using some of my leftover chili.  I started with a large plate of chopped romaine lettuce, added some diced bell pepper, a large scoop of reheated chili, some halved cherry tomatoes, a couple spoonfuls of tomato-cilantro salsa, and a generous serving of shredded Mexican-blend cheese.

This was also a special occasion.  Tonight I reached the point in my new diet where I could start adding fruit back into my daily food intake.  Two weeks without fruit is difficult!!   To celebrate, I made a small dessert parfait with layered strawberry slices, low-fat ricotta cheese, dark chocolate chips, and chopped pecans.  Delicious!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day #256 - Chef Salad

 Tonight I fixed myself a large bowl of salad -  Romaine lettuce, mixed greens, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, diced deli turkey, shredded cheddar cheese, and light honey mustard dressing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day #255 - Chili

The weather is getting cooler. Autumn is on the way.   Today I saw a few different posts on Facebook about friends & acquaintances making chili for supper, and it sure sounded like a good idea to me!   So I swung into Target on my way home from work, so I could grab some of the missing ingredients.

I started by cooking about 1/2 cup of diced yellow onion in some olive oil.  I then added half of a package of frozen Boca Soy Crumbles (which imitate ground beef), and let it cook until thawed.  I  took the leftover hamburger from my fridge, crumbled it up, and tossed it into the pot as well.    Once the meats were warmed, I added a can of red kidney beans, 1/2 can of white beans (leftovers from the fridge), 1 can of regular diced tomatoes, and one can of Rotel tomatoes.   I sprinkled in a package of Chili seasoning, added 2 cups chicken stock,  2 cups of V-8 tomato juice, and a little water (until I was happy with the consistency), and stirred everything together.   I covered the chili and let simmer for about 20 minutes until hot. 

Topped my bowl with some shredded mixed Mexican-blend cheese. 

Perfect for a cool damp autumn evening.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day #254 - Bacon'Bleu Chicken

Oh my goodness.  This was delicious!

I started with a large boneless, skinless chicken breast.   I cut into the breast from the side, butterflying the breast open (without cutting it through the other side).  I pulled back the top half of the breast, stuffed in about 1/4 cup of bleu cheese, then closed the breast back up.  I seasoned the breast with a little crushed black pepper, then wrapped 3 large strips of turkey bacon around the breast and stuck in a few toothpicks to hold it in place.   I put the chicken breast on my stoneware baking pan, along with some sticks of zucchini and yellow squash that I had tossed in olive oil.   This roasted in a 400F degree oven for about 25-30 minutes, until I no longer saw pink in the breast when I slit into it.

As soon as I cut into the chicken, it oozed melted bleu cheese, or at least whatever cheese hadn't soaked into the chicken!  The turkey bacon crisped up nicely around the chicken without being overly greasy.  But the chicken...the chicken was so juicy and flavorful!  It was delicious.  I savored each bite.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day #253 - Bunless Burger

Burger night!!    I took a package of ground beef and formed 3 large burger patties, each around half of a pound.  These were mega burgers!   I seasoned them with a little salt, pepper, and espresso steak rub, then grilled them on my stovetop grillpan.   When they were fully cooked, I plated them with a lettuce leaf, a dollop of BBQ sauce, sliced tomato and onion, and a slice of swiss cheese.  With a large dill pickle on the side.  I grabbed my knife & fork, and dove into the burger.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day #252 - Steakhouse Salad

Earlier today I went to the Cardinals baseball game with my mom.  The Cardinals won!!   After spending the afternoon at the stadium, I wanted something quick and easy for dinner.

My steakhouse salad consisted of chopped green leaf lettuce, mixed field greens, green & yellow bell pepper, yellow onion, diced sirloin steak (leftovers from Thursday), blue cheese crumbles, balsamic vinaigrette, and chopped pecans.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day #251 - Baked Ham & Mixed Vegetables

Tonight I baked a ham steak and vegetables in the oven.

I found the ham steak in my freezer, so I defrosted it in the microwave, seasoned it with a little Jamaican Jerk Rub, and placed it in the center of a large stoneware pan.    I chopped some broccoli, cauliflower, yellow onion, and zucchini, coated them with a little extra-virgin olive oil and crushed black pepper, and scattered them on the pan around the ham steak.   I baked everything in a 375 oven for about 30 minutes, flipping everything about halfway into the cooking time. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day #250 - Veggie Soup, part 2

Tonight for dinner I simply reheated a bowl of vegetable soup from Tuesday night, and added some shredded Romano cheese on top.  Still tasted just as delicious as leftovers!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day #249 - Sirloin Steak with Cauliflower Mash

After having that delicious sirloin steak at Malone's on Monday night, I decided I would attempt cooking a decent one for myself.

I bought a sirloin steak at the grocery store, put it in a Ziploc freezer bag with 3 cloves of garlic (halved), crushed black pepper, a couple tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and a couple dashes of Chipotle rub (from Pampered Chef).  I zipped the bag, and rolled it around in my hands, coating the steak in the marinade.   This sat in my fridge while I was at work all day.

When it was time to cook dinner, I pulled the steak out and let it come to room temperature while I heated my stovetop grill pan.  When the pan was nice and hot, I threw the steak into the pan and let it sear about 5 minutes on each side.

While the steak was cooking, I used my microwave steamer to cook some cauliflower florets and reheat some Great Northern white beans.  I mashed these two vegetables together with a little splash of milk.   I then stirred in some finely chopped chives and crushed black pepper.

Once the steak was grilled, I let it rest for a couple minutes on a cutting board before I sliced it.  (It wasn't the best cut of beef, so the middle had some "knots" of gristle that I had to work around.  But the large sections of the steak that I was able to enjoy were juicy and flavorful.)   And I was very pleased that I hadn't overcooked the steak!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day #248 - Tilapia Lettuce Wraps

Look at this colorful dinner!

I took a tilapia filet and sauteed it in some olive oil and lemon pepper seasoning.   I then split the filet in two and made a couple lettuce wraps - green leaf lettuce leaves, thinly sliced yellow onion, thinly sliced red & yellow bell pepper, and a little salsa.

They were like fish tacos, only with lettuce leaves instead of tortilla shells.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day #247 - Veggie Soup

Tonight I cooked up a large pot of vegetable soup, based on a South Beach Diet recipe.

I started by heating up a little olive oil in the bottom of my soup pot.  I added in some minced celery and onion, pressed garlic cloves, dried basil and oregano, and a tiny pinch of red pepper flakes, and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.   I then added chopped baby bella mushrooms, diced zucchini and diced yellow squash, and let cook for another 6-8 minutes.   Next, I dumped in 1 can of lima beans (drained & rinsed), 1 large can of diced tomatoes with the juice, 1 cup chicken broth, 1 cup of water, and 2 cups of V-8 tomato juice, and stirred well.  I let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes, then dumped in 1/2 package of thawed frozen spinach.  Let simmer for another 5-10 minutes and then served up a large bowl for dinner.

It was loaded with healthy vegetables, and a great recipe to keep on hand as we get closer to the autumn/winter months ahead.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day #246 - Malone's

Happy Memorial Day!

Tonight I went out to dinner with parents and my grandmother.   We went to Malone's Grill & Pub in Crestwood, MO.   It was my first time there.  It looked like your typical bar - sports memorabilia all over the walls, and TVs scattered around showing various sports & news programs.

I decided to give their sirloin steak a try, since that is one item I seem to struggle cooking for myself.  I can never cook a good steak.   I ordered their 6oz sirloin steak, with sides of steamed broccoli and cottage cheese.  (Again, trying to choose healthier options.)

The steak was cooked a perfect medium, just how I like it.  SO juicy and flavorful, and it melted in my mouth.   Best steak I've had in a long time.  The broccoli was also steamed perfectly - still had a little bite to it, and it wasn't mushy.  It was seasoned with black pepper, which was a pleasant burst of flavor.  (The cottage cheese was just normal.)

Thanks for dinner, mom & dad!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day #245 - Tomato & Cheese

Earlier today, my cousins and I went to the Missouri Botanical Gardens for the annual Japanese Festival.  Do you know how difficult it is to eat carb-free at a Japanese Festival?  Everything has rice or noodles.  I managed to find a vendor selling giant pork kabobs - 6oz of pork, marinated in teriyaki sauce, and grilled to perfection.   Do you also know how difficult it is to take a picture of a pork kabob while trying eating and walking through a crowd at the same time?   Yeah, that's why I don't have a photo of lunch for you.

After a day of walking and fresh air, I wasn't very hungry for dinner.  I pulled out a large beefsteak tomato from my fridge, cut it into slices, drizzled it with balsamic vinegar, and sprinkled it with crushed black pepper and finely grated Romano cheese.    It was refreshing, it was delicious, and it filled me up for dinner.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day #244 - Incredible Pizza Company

Today is my cousin Matt's birthday, so the whole family (me, my parents, grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins) got together at Incredible Pizza Company for dinner and to hang out.   As I mentioned in last night's post, I'm watching my carb intake, so sadly I wasn't able to eat any of the pizza or pasta available at the all-you-can-eat pizza bar.  But I raided the salad bar.   Pictured above is one of the two salads I ate for dinner.

This salad is romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, bell pepper, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, green peas, diced turkey, sunflower seeds, and light Italian dressing.   My second salad was similar, only with light French dressing instead of Italian, and ham instead of turkey.

It's not easy staying healthy when dining out, and I had to constantly defend my dinner choices and refuse all the "good" (aka fattening) foods like pizza, pasta, and dessert.  But my willpower felt strong, and I left feeling satisfied instead of full/sick.   It's a good thing I like salads!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Day #243 - Pork Stir-Fry

Tonight I threw together a pork stir fry, using the leftover pork chop from yesterday, plus red bell pepper, baby bella mushrooms, broccoli florets, sliced yellow onion, edamame, and a little soy sauce.

Since I'm watching my carb intake, I ate two servings of the stir fry without any rice or noodles.   And honestly, I didn't miss them.  I'd rather fill up on the meat and veggies!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day #242 - Hummus & Onion Pork Chops

Tonight's dinner was based off this recipe I found using the Dinner Spinner app on my cell phone - Pleasant Pork Chops

I started by sauteing some thinly sliced onion and pressed garlic in some olive oil until lightly browned, then removed from the skillet.    I took two pork chops, seasoned them with salt & pepper, and browned them on both sides in my hot skillet.  I then poured in a cup of chicken broth, 2 bay leaves, and 1/2 can of Rotel tomatoes (with juices) into the skillet, covered with the lid, and let simmer for an hour.

After the hour was up, I removed the pork chops and poured in a mixture of Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream), red pepper hummus, and the sauteed onion & garlic.  I mixed this together with the cooking liquid, and let this sauce simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

At this point, I put a pan of chopped asparagus and broccoli florets into the oven to roast.   Once the vegetables were roasted, I served my pork chop topped with a large spoonful of the tomatoes, onions, and sauce.   The sauce had good flavor, but it probably would have been helpful if I had read the directions a little closer and let the cooking liquids reduce before I mixed in the hummus & onions.   Mine was still a little runny.