Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 2

1 1/2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, cut in half with stems and outer leaves removed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Cooking spray
2-3 shallots, cut cross wise into 1/8-inch thick slices and separated into rings (about 1 cup)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat to 400 degrees.

Toss Brussels sprouts with a couple of spritzes cooking spray, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out in 1 layer in a large, shallow baking pan. Roast, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, about 25 to 30 minutes.

While sprouts roast, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and shallots to pan with a spritz of cooking spray over high heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are golden brown, about 5 minutes.

When sprouts are done, mix sprouts, shallots and sprouts together in skillet and heat through. Serve immediately.

NOTES: I know what you are thinking. You're thinking that you will never try this recipe because Brussels sprouts are disgusting. You're right - Brussels sprouts ARE disgusting - if they are FROZEN and BOILED into that nasty, smooshy, bitter mess you think of when you think of Brussels sprouts. Those Brussels sprouts are a travesty against nature.

But... when they are FRESH and ROASTED, they are not just good - they are heavenly. Roasted Brussels sprouts are one of the best foods on earth. They are simple to prepare, incredibly good for you and delicious. When we're in a rush, I omit the garlic and shallots completely and just go for roasted sprouts with lots of salt. If we don't have shallots, a diced red onion works really well. There are so many variations with this dish you are bound to find a flavor combination that works for you. Lemon is one option. So are chestnuts. Oh, and for those who must do so, you can even add in some bacon. But please - before you cast judgement over the Brussels sprout based on someone's horrific abuse to the vegetable, try them the right way and then decide if they are really worth your scorn. Hint: they won't be and you will love them, too.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms
Servings: 6
Weight Watchers Points: 6 per serving

1 8-oz package no-yolk wide egg noodles
1 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c. water
3/4 lb. plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 c. fat-free chicken broth
1/2 c. white wine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch spinach, cleaned and coarsely chopped
1/4 c. fat-free half-and-half
3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet, then add the chicken. Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper; saute until browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, onion and water. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 8 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, broth, white wine and garlic; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes for blend the flavors. Stir in the noodles, spinach, half-and-half and cheese. Simmer, uncovered, until the spinach just begins to wilt.

NOTES: Nothing makes you feel more like a fancy chef than making this dish. Your whole house will smell like a French bistro, and you'll certainly feel as if you're channeling your inner Julia Child. We've made this dish with bone-in, skinless thighs - instead of cubing the raw chicken, we braise the thighs whole and remove the meat from the bone just before adding in the noodles and spinach and whatnot. We've also substituted tarragon for thyme when we were out of the latter and the dish turned out just as good. The leftovers reheat nicely several days after cooking. Just make sure to portion out the broth - you'll be tempted to eat it all at once!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Best Turkey Meatloaf Ever

The Best Turkey Meatloaf Ever
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 4.5 per serving

1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 tsp. olive oil
1.3 lbs lean ground turkey
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained
2/3 c. breadcrumbs
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. egg subsititute
1 tsp. marjoram
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet and saute onion and green pepper until tender, about 5 minutes or so.

In a medium bowl mix together turkey, onion mixture, mushrooms, breadcrumbs, ketchup, egg, marjoram and salt. Press mixture in a standard sized loaf pan and zig zig top with ketchup, if desired.

Bake uncovered for one hour, and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

NOTES: Man, now THIS is a meatloaf! It's meaty, juicy, filled with lots of veggies and reheats really, really well for those who like leftover meatloaf sandwiches. It's also very versatile - the original recipe I pulled this from called didn't call for any green peppers or mushrooms, had less breadcrumbs and used a real egg. I jazzed this version up quite a bit according to my preferences - just remember that if you add more moisture (like from extra veggies), compensate by adding more breadcrumbs. One thing you cannot change under any circumstances - DON'T LEAVE OUT THE MARJORAM. I had never cooked with marjoram before, but apparently it's the thing that makes meatloaf taste like, well, meatloaf.

Baby Red Potato Salad

Baby Red Potato Salad
Servings: 6
Weight Watchers Points: 2 per serving

4 c. baby red potatoes, cut in small pieces
1/2 c. green bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 c. red onion, finely diced
3 green onions, diced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. reduced fat mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes in salted water until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain and let cool.

While the potatoes are boiling, combine red onion, green pepper, mustard, olive oil, vinegar and mayonnaise in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and let the flavors marinate while the potatoes cook.

Once the potatoes are done, add the green onions and additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to serve.

NOTES: This salad is quick and easy, and has a whole lot of flavor with hardly any fat. Really great with grilled burgers or chicken sausage.

Baked Falafel Sandwiches

Baked Falafel Sandwiches
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 7 per serving

One 15 1/2 oz canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 c. onion, chopped
1/4 c. parsley, or cilantro, fresh, chopped
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp.  table salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. tahini sesame butter
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
8 lettuce leaves
4 large wheat pitas

Combine chickpeas, onion, parsley, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt and baking soda in a food processor or blender. Process until mixture is coarsely pureed and transfer to large bowl. Stir in flour; shape mixture into 4 large patties and let stand for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties and cook until golden brown, flipping once, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven and bake 10 minutes more.

Meanwhile, whisk together tahini, water and lemon juice in a small bowl.

To assemble sandwiches, place 2 lettuce leaves inside each pita, add 1 falafel patty and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of tahini dressing.

NOTES: Mmm... now THIS was a home run. The falafel patties are super-easy to make and the sandwiches are a breeze to assemble. We used Boston (aka bibb) lettuce leaves because they are a tad softer and look really nice. I think next time we might add some red onion slices or even tomato, but neither are necessary. The weird part about this dish is that I would have swore there was feta cheese in my sandwich as I was eating it, even though I knew there wasn't. I guess the combination of the pita and falafel and tahini dressing add up to tasting like feta. We served this with Asian cucumber salad - we were going to do a Greek cucumber salad with yogurt, but thought that the creaminess of the tahini was enough creaminess for one meal. The two dishes were perfect together and we'll definitely be adding this one to the standard meal rotation.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Grilled Turkey Burgers

Grilled Turkey Burgers
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 7 per serving, including the bun

1.3 lbs ground turkey
1/4 c. dried bread crumbs
1/4  c. chopped onion
1/4 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Sriracha chili sauce
4 whole-grain buns

Combine turkey, bread crumbs, chopped onion, parsley, Worcestershire sauce and Sriracha in a large bowl. Mix well. Divide turkey mixture into 4 equal portions and form into patties. Grill on a hot, pre-heated grill for about 7 minutes per side. Serve on whole-wheat buns.

TIP: When forming the patties, indent the center slightly so that the edges stick up more than the middle and they almost look like donuts, but the hole isn’t quite there. This will prevent the burgers from turning into puffy meatballs and they will stay nice and burger-shaped.

NOTES: These have become a grill-time staple in our house. They are juicy, flavorful, and delicious. Serve them with grilled onions and bell peppers for a really great low-point meal.

Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps

Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps
Servings: 4 (1 serving equals two wraps)
Weight Watchers Points: 3 per serving

1.2 lbs ground turkey
2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
1/2 c. red bell pepper, diced
1/2 c. green bell pepper, diced
1/2 c. onion, diced
1/2 tomato sauce
1/2 c. water
8 leaves Boston (aka bibb) lettuce
salsa, for topping

Brown turkey in large skillet. When turkey is cooked through, stir in taco seasoning. Add the veggies, tomato sauce and water to the skillet. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until veggies are tender.

Serve the taco mixture with lettuce as lettuce wraps, and top with salsa.

TIP: We didn’t have any tomato sauce the last time we made these, so I stirred in half a can of diced tomatoes instead and it was delicious. I think next time we’ll add both the tomato sauce and some diced tomatoes. This could be a good way to use up summer tomatoes.

NOTES: These are so delicious, and the turkey mixture reheats really well so you can eat leftovers the next day.

Basil-Lime Corn

Basil-Lime Corn
Servings: 4Weight Watchers Points: 3 per serving

1 Tbsp. olive oil or butter
5 ears of corn on the cob, kernels cut from the cob
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime
10 leaves fresh basil, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil or butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper, and a pinch of salt. Sweat them until they are soft, but not brown - about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the corn kernels and some more salt and pepper to the skillet. Raise the heat to high and cook quickly until corn brightens in color and is heated (if you like softer corn, use lower heat and cook longer).

Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and basil. Serve hot or cold.

TIP: Cut kernels off of corn cobs by standing each ear of corn on its end in a big bowl and slicing from the top downward.

NOTES: This is a fantastic side dish with just about anything in the summer months. Really easy. The lime and basil are surprisingly great with the corn.