Monday, October 31, 2011

Day #302 - Baked Chicken Breast and Succotash

Last night was the premiere episode of  "The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs" on Food Network.  During the episode, the chefs were challenged to be innovative while cooking an entire pig over an outdoor fire pit.  One of the teams created a succotash as a side to their pork entree.  For some reason, I had the word "succotash" running through my head all day, so I had to make some for dinner.  I browsed online for a few different recipes, and then combined them into one.

For my main protein, I seasoned a couple chicken breasts with salt & pepper, then baked in a glass dish in a 400-degree oven while I prepared my succotash.

I chopped some thick-cut bacon and browned it in my skillet.  After removing the bacon and draining most of the fat, I sauteed some finely chopped shallot until translucent.  I added diced red bell pepper, frozen corn kernels, frozen lima beans, and frozen edamame, and cooked until tender.  I added the cooked bacon back to my pan, seasoned with a little crushed black pepper, added a splash of milk, and let simmer, covered, over low heat until the chicken was cooked fully.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day #301 - Quick Taco Soup

On the bus ride home from my taiko class, the weather was rather gloomy.  Cold, windy, and drizzling rain. It comes as no surprise that I was craving soup.  Between a quick stop at Target, and the contents of my fridge, I was able to throw together a quick Taco Soup.

I started by cooking down some diced green bell pepper in my soup pot, then tossed in a can of Rotel tomatoes, a can of kidney beans, some leftover taco meat, a diced cooked turkey burger, and a cup of V-8 tomato juice.  I let this mixture simmer on the stove for 20-30 minutes.   I topped my bowl with some shredded cheddar cheese and served with a small handful of Doritos (my splurge treat for tonight).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day #300 - Pork Melt

Tonight I wanted to use up the last of the Peppercorn Pork Tenderloin in my refrigerator.   I sliced it thinly, layered it on a whole grain sandwich round, topped it with BBQ sauce and smoked gouda cheese, and cooked it in my toaster oven until warm and melty.   The sweet sauce and smoky cheese helped balance out the pepperiness of the pork. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day #299 - "Summer in October"

Tonight was Game 7 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers.   As I donned my Cardinals game attire and prepared to say goodbye to the 2011 baseball season, it seemed fitting that I would have a summertime dinner.

I grilled a couple Jennie O turkey burgers, which I served on a whole grain bun with BBQ Sauce, Smoked Gouda cheese, and romaine lettuce.  A cup of fruit salad (kiwi, mango, strawberries, and blueberries), and a handful of cherry tomatoes rounded out my "summer in October" meal

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day #298 - Peppered Pork Stir-Fry

Remember that really peppery pork I had a couple nights ago?   I decided it would be perfect for a pork stir fry.   I sliced the tenderloin into strips, and stir-fried it in my skillet with a bag of frozen vegetable mix (carrots, broccoli, celery, snap peas) and a few dashes of soy sauce.

The black pepper added nice flavor to the stir fry without overpowering the dish.

I didn't make any rice or grains to go with my stir fry, so I ended up eating two bowls of the meat & vegetables.  That is the best part anyway.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day #297 - Beef Quesadilla

Tonight I was looking for something quick and easy to make for dinner.  I grabbed two whole grain tortillas, loaded them with shredded cheddar cheese, leftover taco meat, and some salsa, and made myself a giant microwaved quesadilla. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day #296 - Taco Night

Taco night!

Do you ever just get those cravings for tacos?   I did.  Which of course meant a special trip to the grocery store on the way home from work so I could buy ground beef, taco seasoning, whole grain tortilla shells, black olives, and salsa.  But it was worth it.   My giant burrito was delicious!!

But since that didn't fill me up, I went back and made a small taco salad as well:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day #295 - Peppered Pork Tenderloin

For dinner tonight I made a Peppercorn-crusted Pork tenderloin (one of those packaged ones from the grocery meat department) and roasted broccoli.    The pork was VERY peppery, almost too much for me.   I think next time I want a pork tenderloin, I'll just buy the plain one from the store and add the coating myself. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day #294 - Chicken Sautee with White Wine Sauce

Looks fancy, doesn't it?     Even though I was physically tired from today's taiko class, I was in the mood to actually COOK dinner when I got home.

I started by heating a little olive oil in my large skillet over medium heat.   I added some sliced red onion and crushed garlic to the oil, and let cook until fragrant and translucent. 

While the onions & garlic were cooking, I cut a couple chicken breasts into 1-inch chunks, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and dried Italian herbs.   I then added the chicken to the skillet, and sauteed with the onion & garlic until the chicken was cooked fully.

Once the chicken was cooked, I stirred in a couple spoonfuls of tomato paste until the chicken was coated.  I added a couple generous splashes of white wine (I used a Chenin Blanc), covered the skillet, lowered the heat, and let simmer for about 10 minutes until the wine was reduced, forming a nice rich sauce with the tomato paste.

Meanwhile, I cooked some whole grain quinoa and steamed some asparagus, for my side dishes.

It was delicious!  Best meal I've cooked for myself in a while.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day #293 - Nathan's Baptism Dinner

Tonight I was down in Cape Girardeau celebrating the Baptism of my Godson, Nathan (my cousin's son).    Dinner was a large buffet, consisting of: mostaccioli, sliced brown sugar ham, rolls, tossed salad, veggies, various kinds of pickles, a relish tray (including giant green olives stuffed with garlic cloves), deviled eggs, twice baked potatoes, a fruit tray, and much more.  Dessert was homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream, flower cupcakes, and cookies.   It was a smorgasbord!   Too much food to fit on my little plate for the photo.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day #292 - $5 Footlong

Today we had gorgeous weather in St. Louis!    I decided to walk home from the Metrolink station, and stopped at Subway along my route.  Picked up a $5 Footlong - a Subway Club on Honey Oat with lettuce, tomato, pepper, cucumber, provolone cheese, black olives, and honey mustard dressing.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day #291 - Shrimp Scampi with Quinoa

Tonight I didn't want to cook.  I found a box of Contessa brand frozen shrimp scampi in my freezer, so I tossed that into the microwave to cook.  I also reheated some leftover quinoa.  And that became dinner.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day #290- Sausage & Bowties

Another pasta night.  I started by lightly sauteing some green bell pepper and crushed garlic in a little olive oil, then added a package of mild Italian sausage to my skillet and cooked thoroughly.   I also got my water boiling to cook the whole grain bowtie pasta. Once the sausage was fully cooked, I added a couple tablespoons of tomato paste (forgot to buy pasta sauce) and 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the skillet, stirred until the sausage was fully coated, and let simmer for a couple minutes until the sauce thickened.  I tossed the pasta with the sausage and sauce, and sprinkled grated parmesean cheese on top.

To offset the carbs of the pasta, I made myself a small garden salad with romaine lettuce, diced bell pepper, cucumber, Italian vinaigrette dressing, and shredded Mozzarella cheese.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day #289 - Grilled Cheese & Roasted Pepper-Tomato Soup

Something about today felt like a grilled cheese & tomato soup kind of day.   Maybe it was my laziness, not wanting to do much cooking.  Maybe it was the cold, rainy weather.  Maybe it just sounded tasty.   Most likely a combination of all the above.

I knew I had all the fixings for grilled cheese (whole grain bread, swiss cheese, and deli turkey breast) in my fridge, but I needed to buy tomato soup on my way home from work.  In the soup aisle, I paid attention to the nutrition labels, looking for one that had the least amount of sugar.  I wound up splurging on a box carton of organic Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque.   It was delicious!!  A nice roasted pepper flavor in addition to the creamy tomato, with chunks of pepper and tomato throughout the soup.  Perfect accompaniment with my grilled cheese sandwich.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day #288 - Veggie Sautee

Tonight I wanted to load up on my vegetables.  I heated a little olive oil in a large skillet, and sauteed some cubed butternut squash, sliced butternut squash, asparagus, and frozen green peas.  I seasoned the vegetables with a little salt, black pepper, and Italian herbs, and served it over a bed of whole grain quinoa.  I guess it would be an Italian vegetarian version of stir fry.   A nice, warm, hearty meal using seasonal vegetables.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day #287 - Meatloaf & Pasta

More leftover meatloaf.   Will it ever end??   Tonight I took a few large chunks of the meatloaf, and reheated it in the microwave.  Once hot, I topped with shredded mozzarella cheese and let it melt.   I also cooked a bit of whole grain Bowtie pasta for my side, which I tossed with a little olive oil, Italian seasoning, and grated Parmesean cheese.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day #286 - Experimental Chicken Fingers

I will be the first to admit that this was a failed experiment in chicken finger making. 

Normally I would make chicken tenders with a coating of bread crumbs, crushed SunChips (my personal favorite), or even crushed pretzels.   Not having any of those in my pantry, I had to improvise.  I used Kashi Honey Oat cereal.   I crushed the cereal as finely as I could, and added a little Chipotle seasoning.  I seasoned the chicken fingers with some salt & pepper, dipped them in a little EggBeaters, then coated them with the crushed cereal.   I baked the chicken fingers, along with some broccoli florets, for 20 minutes at 375-degrees.

The broccoli tasted delicious.  The chicken tasted a little strange with the sweet coating, even with the addition of the chipotle seasoning.  But after dipping them in BBQ sauce, I didn't notice it as much.   I won't be using cereal as a chicken breading any time soon.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day #285 - Steakhouse salad

I'm calling this a "Steakhouse Salad" because of the combination of ingredients often found in steakhouse dinners - diced onion, mushrooms, and gorgonzola cheese.  I served my salad with a base of chopped Romaine lettuce, crumbled a little leftover turkey meatloaf atop my salad, then drizzled it all with Caesar Dressing.    

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day #284 - Meatloaf Melt

Dinner tonight is an open-faced Meatloaf Melt.   I took a couple slices of the leftover turkey meatloaf, put them on a piece of whole grain bread,  topped with shredded mozzarella cheese, and cooked in my toaster oven until warm and melty.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day #283 - Turkey & White Bean Meatloaf

Tonight I tried a new recipe that I found in a South Beach Diet cookbook - Home-style Turkey Meatloaf With Mushrooms and White Beans.  I enjoyed it!   The mushrooms added an earthy tone to the meatloaf, while the addition of cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and mustard added a nice spicy kick as well.  My only complain was the large chunks of bean - next time I would probably mash those down a bit before mixing them in the meatloaf.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day #282 - Baked Mahi-Mahi

Tonight I purchased some frozen Mahi Mahi fillets from the grocery store.  By the time I walked home from the store, they were partially thawed, so I figured I would go ahead and cook them for dinner.

I seasoned both sides of the fillets with salt, pepper, and a little Island Spice Blend, and then placed them on my stone baking pan.   I also chopped up some vegetables (red onion, asparagus, broccoli, and butternut squash), tossed them with a little olive oil, and put them on the same baking pan.  I baked everything for 20-minutes at 350 degrees, until the fish was flaky and the vegetables were tender.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day #281 - Mediterranean Dump Soup

On the way home from work, I found myself in the mood for soup.   After a quick 5-minute dash into Target, I had all the ingredients I needed to throw together a good pot of dump soup:

1 can diced stewed tomatoes with juices
1 can Great Northern beans, drained
1 bag frozen vegetables (mine were a Mediterranean blend - green beans, zucchini, and yellow carrots)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
2 cups V-8 tomato juice

I mixed together all the ingredients, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables were fully heated and tender.

I love a good, quick, dump soup!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day #280 - Brats & Baseball

This afternoon, my parents had me over to their house to watch the NLCS Game #1 between the Cardinals and the Phillies.   As part of the "baseball experience," we had BBQ brats for dinner, with cubed cantaloupe and a cold broccoli salad (with bacon, cheddar cheese, raisins, and a mayo-vinegar dressing).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day #279 - Hamburgers

What a beautiful Saturday we are having today!!    Sunshine and temperatures in the 80s.   It does not feel like October.   With weather this beautiful, I was in the mood for hamburgers.

I took a package of ground beef, mixed in some Pampered Chef BBQ rub, and formed my burger patties.    I seared the burgers to perfection in my large stove-top skillet.   And then I built the burger - lettuce, onion, tomato, cheddar cheese, and BBQ sauce on a whole grain bun.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day #278 - Mediterranean Wrap

It's Friday!  And I didn't feel like cooking!!    So I ran into Tommy's Good Eats on my way home from work, and bought a Mediterranean Wrap.   Grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato, olives, Greek dressing, Feta cheese, and hummus spread on a tortilla wrap.  
(I did forgo the potato chips this time, and had fruit for dessert!)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day #277 - Strip Steak and Sauteed Vegetables

Tonight I made a pan-seared strip steak with sauteed vegetables, served over a bed of brown rice.

I found a nice piece of strip steak on special at the grocery store tonight.  I coated the steak with Espresso Steak Rub, and let it come to room temperature on the counter for a mini-marinate as I waited for my saute pan to preheat.   Once the pan was nice and hot, I added the steak and seared it for about 6 minutes on each side.   I removed the steak from the pan to rest, added a little olive oil to the pan, and then sauteed my vegetables (frozen snap peas and yellow squash strips).

After the vegetables were cooked, I sliced my steak into strips, and then piled the vegetables and steak atop a serving of brown rice.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day #276 - Autumn Grilled Cheese

As you may have noticed, I've been sneaking canned pumpkin into a few dishes lately.   That's because even the smallest can of pumpkin (which I bought when I had a craving for pumpkin dessert) will last quite a while when you aren't actually baking with it.

Tonight I took a little of that canned pumpkin, smeared it on two slices of multigrain bread, topped it with layers of deli turkey and cheddar cheese, and grilled it to perfection.    It was a nice little accent to what otherwise would be a boring sandwich.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day #275 - "Healthy" Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Chicken Broccoli Casserole is one of those fall/winter comfort foods that my mom would make for us growing up.  I wanted to find a way to make a lighter version of it.  And this is what I came up with...

I started by chopping two large chicken breasts into 1-inch chunks, and browning them in a large skillet.   I then chopped up a large head of broccoli (discarding the main stem/stalk), and added it to the skillet

For the sauce, I whisked together 1/2 cup of part-skim ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup canned pumpkin, 1/4 cup skim milk, and 3/4 cup chicken stock. 

Once the broccoli had begun to tenderize, I poured in the sauce, seasoned with crushed black pepper and a little salt, and cooked, covered, over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes.   I then stirred in 2 cups of leftover brown rice (I made a huge portion of it last night, and kept the leftovers in the fridge), a generous handful of shredded cheddar cheese, and cooked over low heat for another 5-10 minutes, until the rice was fully reheated and the cheese had melted.

The casserole turned out as well as I had hoped.  The combination of ricotta and cheddar cheeses helped mask some of  the pumpkin flavor.   It was cheesy and creamy and comforting!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day #274 - Quick Pork "Ragu"

I'm calling this dish a "Quick Pork Ragout," mostly because "Leftover chopped pork mixed with tomatoes" doesn't have the best ring to it.  But that's what it is.

Traditional Italian Pork Ragu (Ragout?) is a long, slow-cooked, Sunday-supper dish. 

For my imitation dish, I took the last few Autumn Harvest Pork Roll-ups from my fridge, diced them finely, threw it in a saucepan with a can of diced stewed tomatoes, and let this whole mixture simmer on the stove until heated through.   I served it over a bed of brown rice, with a side of steamed broccoli.

And since we are talking about Autumn... one of the flavors that comes to mind is pumpkin.   Pumpkin is everywhere at this time of year.   So I whipped up this light dessert for myself:

1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup canned pumpkin, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and a few dashes of pumpkin pie spices, blended together fully.  Enjoyed with a sprinkle of chopped pecans on top.    All the flavors of pumpkin pie, just with a healthier twist.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day #273 - Weekend Getaway, Part 3

My last day in Kansas City.

Our group met up one last time in the morning for breakfast, before everyone started getting on the road and heading home.   By lunchtime, there were only four of us remaining.    We decided to head to Ruby Tuesday for their Sunday Brunch.

My brunch began with a delicious Berry Good Yogurt Parfait (vanilla yogurt, mixed berries, and crunchy granola), served in a martini glass:

For my main course, I ordered the Mini Steak Benedicts - Seared petite sirloin served on toasted buns with fresh lettuce, tomato, cheesy scrambled eggs, and topped with Hollandaise sauce.    It was served with crispy brunch potatoes on the side. 

It was something different, but very good!   I wasn't sure if the combination of traditional Eggs Benedict would pair with the steak, lettuce, and tomato, but I was pleasantly surprised.  

 I had an afternoon flight home from KC, and was pretty worn out by the time I got back to my apartment.  So dinner was a quick simple one - PB&J on a whole grain sandwich round, and a serving of cottage cheese:

What a weekend!    Back to normal food postings tomorrow. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day #272 - Weekend Getaway, Part 2

Today I'm still in Kansas City for my scrapbooking weekend.  We spent most of the day just hanging out and playing with our laptops. For lunch, we all walked next door to Wendy's and grabbed some food to bring back to the hotel.  I ordered half of an Apple Pecan Chicken Salad, and a small value order of Chicken Nuggets.   But no photo of that for you today.

This evening, our group headed over to the Zona Rosa Shopping Center for a photo walk / scavenger hunt.   We were given eight photography tasks, and had to find situations/photos for each one.   After walking for an hour or so, we had all worked up quite an appetite.   For dinner, we dined at Smokehouse Bar-B-Que.

I ordered the Porker Sandwich - a giant serving of tender pulled pork served on a toasted, corn-dusted bun.
I also substituted a small garden salad with balsamic dressing in place of the french fries.     The sandwich was loaded with pulled pork!  Loaded!! About halfway through the sandwich, I abandoned the bun entirely and just ate the pork with my fork.  Even still, I couldn't finish it all.