Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Better For You Cookies and .....More Snow

Guess what's outside my window....

More snow! It never stops apparently! 

New York is doing it's best to break me into a real winter. We actually set a record for January snow fall. Lucky me! I keep saying to the hubby "Oh I'm sorry, I didn't realize we moved to Minnesota." 

I'm just a smart ass like that. And for the record, I'm handling the weather quite well. Better than I expected really. I have my magical battery powered heated boots to thank for that!

In the spirit of the season, I've been having a crazy cookie craving. I hardly ever have your regular, empty-calorie sweets anymore, much as I love them. But with more focus on nutrition and how my body reacts to such things (physically and emotionally), I've abstained for the most part, and haven't missed the stuff. 

My new love is dark chocolate, rich in antioxidants and zinc. Organic dark chocolate with a high percentage of Cocao is amazingly good for you. If your usual temptation is in the form of a Hershey bar, it may take a while to develop a pallet for the real thing, but I invite you to give it a try. I like just a few squares at a time, savoring each bite mindfully. 

Ok, back to cookies. I came across this recipe for more healthy chocolate chunk cookies on the popular blog  Not Eating Out In New York (I feel like I could author such a blog at this point, seeing as how moving to NYC drains you of all resources and results in a lot of eating in :). 

These morsels have a base of organic peanut butter, chopped dark chocolate and whole grain oats, and whole wheat flour. All items I happen to have on hand. 

I picked up Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Truffle bar recently. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Perfect balance of creaminess and rich body. There is something immensely satisfying about chopping up a big hunk of chocolate. You don't get the same feeling from just pouring in a bag of those chips, believe me. 

These were delightful! I love the denser texture that whole wheat flour gives to baked goods. They feel more substantial in so many ways. Try them next time you feel the need to bake a batch. Guaranteed kids will never know the difference and will be better for everyone who gobbles them down. 


Recipe for Whole-Wheat Peanut Butter Choc-Oat Cookies

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Healthier Fettucini Alfredo

My one, huge weakness as a teenager and beyond was the decadence of Fettucini Alfredo. Give me creamy, pasta, some grilled chicken, and I was good to go. Sadly, this is not the best dish for you, especially as you get older and notice pasta on your thighs and belly the day after (not kidding). I rarely have it anymore, as it's not particularly healthful with it's all-out lack of vegetable nourishment.

I received organic artisan pasta by Naples Pasta Company from my sister-in-law as a Christmas gift this year (thanks Bridg! :) and had yet to make it. I chose to cook the Spinach Basil Garlic Fettucini and topped it off with Trader Joe's Alfredo Sauce. I like to add in grated Parmesianno Reggiano and cracked black pepper to the jarred sauce.

Enter my little tip for injecting almost any pasta dish with some much-needed greens: Add in a bag of spinach about 2 minutes before the end of the pasta cooking time. This wilts the spinach nicely and you can just drain it all at once.

The Result: A lovely bowl of pasta with greenness and goodness instead of just starch and cream.  The spinach has a nice bitter bite to accompany the creaminess of the alfredo sauce. This dish perfectly illustrates my approach to cooking. There's no reason to not have comfort staples, just think about what you can do to make it a more complete meal.  I've found that as I try new and different foods, my taste buds need more complexity. 

Spinach Fettucini Alfredo


Artisan Pasta, preferably spinach, basil, or other vegetable base
1 jar prepared alfredo sauce
1 bag pre-washed spinach
Parmegiano Reggiano

Put alfredo sauce in a large sauce pan. Grate a good amount of Parmeggiano Reggiano over and add in S&P. Heat and stir over medium-low heat to combine.

Meanwhile, cook fettucini according to package directions, adding in entire bag of pasta in the last 2-3 minutes of cooking time. Drain all in a colander. 

Combine sauce with noodle/spinach mixture and enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Salsa Verde Enchiladas

After a long week with a nasty head cold, I'm ready for some good comfort food. And nothing means comfort to a Texan quite like Enchiladas. I may be a proponent for healthy eating, but don't kid yourself: every time I go home I have to have classic Tex-Mex cheese enchiladas. All the better if there's a margarita machine churning somewhere.

I haven't been brave enough to try the supposed Tex-Mex restaurants in Brooklyn. It could turn out like trying to find decent barbecue in the Northwest (don't even try). I've made them at home many times and have come extremely close to what you find in Mexican greasy spoons all over Texas.

 But tonight I wanted to try something different. I came across a recipe for Salsa Verde Enchiladas, which is basically Enchiladas Suizas. This is enchiladas filled with chicken and smothered with a green, tomatillo and sour cream based sauce instead of tomatoes.

The most important step when making any type of enchiladas is cooking the corn tortillas quickly in oil, or in this case, salsa verde and juice of one lime. The trick is to do it just enough, but not too much, otherwise they get too soggy and fall apart. This imparts flavor and texture into the tortillas and makes them easier to roll.

Use wax paper and roll filling into them, then place in your 9 X 13 casserole dish, all lined up like little soldiers. I'm weird, I know it.

Then sour cream and chicken broth are added to the salsa verde mixture, and poured over the top.
After baking for 15 minutes, you add tons of cheese to the top like I did. Because I like cheese, that's why.

And there you have it! Perfect enchilada dinner at home. I made some spanish rice for a side, but you could also have beans or a salad.

As always, enjoy.

Salsa Verde Enchiladas recipe at Good Housekeeping

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Potato Salad

Sometimes it's difficult to get through a 5 lb. bag of potatoes when there's only two people in the house, and you've already done mashed potatoes AND Kale and Potato Soup. I often have some laying around waiting to be thrown together into something special. This time: potato salad. Perfect and humble fare on a dreary New Year's day with nowhere to go. I know this is a dish you think of more in the summertime, but as a southerner, any time is a good occasion for potato salad!

My recipe is one that I made up over time, or just depending on my mood. There are a myriad of options when choosing your ingredients, but I keep it pretty classic. This is also a recipe where the flavor is dependent on the quality of ingredients, so buy organic if you can. You'll think me!

 It's best to prepare the salad at least an hour in advance to let all the flavors marry together.

Start by rinsing and boiling your potatoes of choice. I had about 2 lbs. of small Yukon Golds around, but most people like reds. Boil them to the point a fork can be inserted easily, but not falling apart and watery; about 15 minutes. Remember to salt the water!

At the same time, boil 2 eggs. Here is how to perfectly boil eggs. Put eggs in the fridge for 30 minutes while you let the potatoes cool. This makes both easier to work with.

While they are cooling, dice half a small red onion, a few stalks green onions and few sprigs dill. I love dill, so I tend to use a lot! Put them all in a large bowl and enjoy the pretty colors. Remember: the more colorful your food the better it is for you. Always strive for a veritable rainbow on your dinner plate.

De-shell cooled eggs and chop, along with potatoes. The size is, again, up to you. Add to bowl along with a large dollop of mayo, small dollop dijon mustard, a little relish, and a splash apple cider vinegar. Stir it all together and taste test. Doctor it up with salt and pepper or any other spices you feel it needs. Chill in the fridge at least an hour.

There you have it! I served this with thick slices of warmed Black Forest ham and sauteed broccolini with garlic butter I keep in the freezer. Enjoy!

My Classic Potato Salad


About 2 lbs. yukon gold potatoes, cleaned and cut in half
2 eggs
1/2 small red onion
few green onions
few sprigs fresh dill
dijon mustard
apple cider vinegar
S&P as needed

Boil potatoes for 15 minutes in salted water. Boil eggs. Let both cool for about 30 minutes on counter or fridge. 

Meanwhile, dice up onions and dill. Add to a large bowl. 

De-shell and chop eggs and potatoes and add to bowl. 

Stir all together with a large dollop mayo, small dollop mustard, relish, and splash red wine vinegar. Add more as needed along with salt and pepper to taste. 

Let chill in fridge at least one hour.