Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Potato, Greens & Goat Cheese Quesedilla

I have officially discovered my new comfort food! I don't ever recall using mustard greens in my cooking before, but I really liked the bold flavor they added to this dish. This recipe was quick and easy which made it great for a busy weekend. I could also see serving it for company. The original recipe came from Bon Appetit and was posted on one of my favorite food blogs, YumSugar.

I did a couple things to lighten it up. I cut the hot pepper cheese back to from 1 1/3 cups to just 1 cup and used 94% fat free whole wheat tortillas in place of flour tortillas. I used the olive oil very sparingly so there was about 1 teaspoon total per finished quesadilla.

Makes 4 Quesedillas


1 1/3 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 medium)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 cup (packed) coarsely grated hot pepper Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/3 cups jarred salsa verde (tomatillo salsa)
4 2/3 cups coarsely chopped stemmed mustard greens (from 1 bunch), divided
4 8-inch-diameter tortillas (I used 94% fat free whole wheat tortillas)
3 ounces chilled fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
Olive oil


1. Place baking sheet in oven and preheat to 275°F.

2. Steam potatoes until tender, about 8 minutes.

3. Place in large bowl; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Toss to coat. Cool potatoes 15 minutes. Mix in Jack cheese.

4. Meanwhile, blend salsa and 2/3 cup (packed) greens in processor until greens are finely chopped.

5. Arrange tortillas on work surface. Divide remaining greens between bottom half of each. Top greens with potato mixture, then goat cheese and 2 tablespoons salsa mixture for each. Fold plain tortilla halves over filling, pressing to compact. Brush with oil.

6. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 quesadillas, oiled side down, in skillet.

7. Brush tops with oil. Cook until quesadillas are brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to sheet in oven to keep warm.

8. Repeat with remaining 2 quesadillas.

9. Serve quesadillas with remaining salsa.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Southwestern Chicken in a Foil Packet

Do not adjust your monitor. Aliens are not invading your computer. That's just the best picture I could get of this dish. The glare from the aluminum foil doesn't make this dish the most appealing thing to look at, but I promise it's good!

1-3/4 cups warm water
2 cups instant brown rice, uncooked
4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1/4 lb. each)
1/4 cup KRAFT Light Ranch Dressing
1-1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese
4 cups small broccoli florets
1 red pepper, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Tear 4 large sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil.

3. Add water to rice. Let stand for 5 minutes and then spoon evenly into the center of each piece of foil.

4. Top rice evenly with remaining ingredients.

5. Bring up opposing sides of foil. Double fold top and both ends to seal each packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Place in large baking pan or on a cookie sheet.

Source: Kraft Foods

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Portobello & Beef Patty Melts

Many of you may be asking this question: Where's the beef? I've got your beef right here! LOL I've also got a brand new laptop which means I'll be posting regularly again.

In case you haven't noticed, all of the recipes I've posted up until now have been made using chicken. I have a confession. I'm not a fan of red meat. (insert gasps of horror here) However, my husband IS a big fan. In fact, after our first 2 weeks of marriage (also our first 2 weeks of living together full time) I asked him if he had any requests for dinners the following week. He gulped, looked a bit hesitant and said "I need more beef." Since then I've been doing my best to incorporate red meat into our menu at least a couple times a week. He seems to be pleased with what we've tried so far, including these Portobello & Beef Patty Melts made using a recipe I found here and modified.

16 ounces lean ground beef
2 cups finely chopped portobello mushroom caps (about 2), gills removed
1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


1. Position a rack in upper 1/3 of the oven. Preheat broiler and line a broiler pan with foil.

2. Gently mix the beef, mushrooms, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until combined.

3. Shape the mixture into 4 patties and place on the foil-lined pan.

4. Broil about 4 to 6 minutes per side or until cooked through.

I served these on toasted whole wheat kaiser rolls found on the shelf near the deli in our grocery store. My husband followed the original recipe and topped his with swiss cheese. I used muenster.

You could taste mushroom, but it wasn't overpowering. Using the portobellos also made them really juicy! The whole meal was easy to prepare and took very little time. It fit perfectly into our busy work week schedule.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Omnivore's Hundred

Unfortunately, this blog has suffered a minor setback. My laptop stopped working about a week ago and the pictures of my most recent cooking ventures were saved there. Yes, I know. I've already received the lecture on backing things up from my mother so I don't need it from you, too. In the meantime, I'll try to post some foodie related stuff for your reading pleasure.

I stole this one from a friend's blog which she took from

Here’s what I want you to do:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros Thanks to my "mom" in Mexico!
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue I'll eat anything with cheese in the name.
8. Carp Courtesy of my dad, the fisherman.
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari It was on accident in Spain, though. Yuck!
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich like every single day!
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes They're my favorite!
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche Thank you trip to Spain!
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O More than I'd care to admit, actually.
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects I've swallowed a few on bike rides. Not on purspose, though.
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel not a fan
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal It's been a loooong time.
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho not a fan
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chicken Meatballs and Zucchini "Fries"

As I learned during a game at my bridal shower, these meatballs are my (now) husband's favorite dish. We've served them many ways: meatball sammies on whole wheat sub rolls, with marinara sauce over pasta, cut up on salad & alone as appetizers. They're quick, easy, fairly healthy and full of flavor.

Musclin' Up Chicken Meatballs
(modified from The Biggest Loser cookbook)

3/4 cup plain, dry breadcrumbs
1/3 cup fat-free skim milk
1 pound lean ground chicken
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon parmesan cheese (I use reduced-fat.)
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray a medium baking sheet with non-stick spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs and the milk. Let stand until the milk softens the crumbs, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken, egg whites, parsley, cheese, garlic powder, onion powder and salt. With your hands, mix well. Split the mixture into 16 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.

3. Place the meatballs at least 1/4 inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake until no longer pink inside, about 12 to 15 minutes.

I got really lucky when I planned these two dishes for the same day. Turns out, they have the same cooking temperatures so they can share time in the oven. The zucchini called for a little more time so I popped them in the oven first and then went to work preparing the meatballs. I popped those in when their cook time matched the time remaining on the zucchini.

These have an interesting texture and great flavor. They're fancy enough for more formal entrees, but simple enough to suit even the most basic burger. I did a little tweaking. 3 zucchini was way too much for our two-person household. The original recipe called for 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs. I left those out to compensate for using less zucchini, but added a few of my favorite seasonings for extra flavor. Feel free to sub your own spices if you're missing any of those listed. I think they'd also be good with a little cayenne pepper for an added zip.

Parmesan Zucchini Fries
(modified from a recipe from Cooking Light, July 2008)

2 large zucchini
1 cup plain, dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese (I used reduced-fat.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Cavender's Greek seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup egg substitute

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Cut zucchini in half crosswise, cut each half lengthwise into 8 wedges. Repeat with remaining zucchini.

3. Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, pepper & other seasonings in a shallow dish.

4. Dip zucchini in egg substitute, roll in breadcrumb mixture until coated and place on the baking sheet.

5. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

The magazine gave a recipe for a fancy dipping sauce. We served ours with good ol' ketchup and mustard.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cheesy Chicken, Veggies & Noodles

It's been so hot around here lately that neither my husband nor I are hungry enough in the evenings for a big meal. This dish, my lightened up version of the KraftFoods recipe found here, was the perfect alternative. It's filling, but not heavy. My husband kept commenting about all the different flavors and how well they blended together. There's just enough cheese to give it taste without being gloppy or taking away from the other ingredients. The veggies give it great color which my macho-man husband described as "pretty." :)

4 cups egg noodles, dry (I used whole wheat)
1 pound boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1/4 cup Italian dressing (I used light)
1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
3 cups fresh broccoli florets
1 yellow summer squash, sliced
4 oz 2% milk Velveeta Cheese, cut into cubes
1 Tablespoon milk (I used skim)

1. Cook the egg noodles according to package directions. Drain.

2. Cook chicken and Italian dressing together in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5-7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally.

3. Add all veggies & stir. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes, or until veggies are crisp-tender.

4. While that cooks, place your chunks of Velveeta in a microwavable container and add the milk. Microwave on high 1 minute. Stir. Microwave 1 minute longer or until cheese is very creamy. NOTE: Make sure your container is large enough that it doesn't bubble over

5. Add cheese to chicken mixture and toss lightly to coat. Serve over the noodles.

Don't forget that summer is the perfect time to check out your local Farmer's Market. You can find one in your area by visiting and searching by city and state, zip code or the specific item you're looking for. I make a weekly trip and that's where I found the great yellow squash for this dish. Many people believe that it's more expensive to buy local. In most cases, I've found it to cost roughly the same or a little less at these markets when it comes to produce. Occasionally I'll stumble across something that costs a little more. It's usually not by much, though. By shopping the market, you're supporting local growers and getting quality produce or other goods.

The USDA's "Certified Organic" label isn't something you'll see very often at the Farmer's Market. That doesn't mean these standards aren't followed by the grower. Said certification is very expensive and someone difficult to obtain so it's not feasible for many independents. If you're concerned about how things or grown or what chemicals are used, talk to the vendor. They can tell you, start to finish, exactly how something has been grown. They're usually very proud of their work (as they should be) and eager to share the process. You can also learn new ways to use the fresh ingredients or get great recipes. All you have to do is ask!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Bites

What's yummy and spicy and quick to prepare? That'd be these buffalo chicken bites! Start to finish, they took about 15 minutes. We served them over a mixed green salad topped with fat free shredded cheddar cheese, organic grape tomatoes and light ranch dressing. Two thumbs up from my "meat and potatoes" husband.

Buffalo Chicken Bites

1/4 cup Louisiana-style hot sauce
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons butter
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into 1-inch chunks)

1. Combine the hot sauce, pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil and cook 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add 5 teaspoons of the butter, stirring until melted.

2. Melt the remaining 1 teaspoon of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently until well browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add the pepper sauce mixture and cook for about 1 minute longer, tossing the chicken to coat.

Servings: 4

Source: Weight Watchers Make it in Minutes cookbook