The Great Catch Up

Hello All –

Though it’s been quite sometime since I’ve updated this blog, I certainly haven’t neglected to eat lean and continue to experiment with new recipes, some original, some modified from other cooks’ creations.

My goal is to step it up and bring this site back to life as its only purpose was to share recipes with friends and family (this site rarely gets outside hits).

With FaceBook, I’ve been able to get other comments and foodie tips and I want to bring those contributions to the site. If you have suggestions, tips for families on a budget, anything, let me know and we can share with all!

– JTG

Shrimp with Rice Noodles and Sweet and Sour Dressing

 To Start:

  • Box of Rice Noodles
  • Shrimp
  • Peanuts for Garnish

Sauce:

  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup white wine or Mirin
  • 1 tsp sugar

Dressing:

  • 3 TBSP fish sauce
  • 4 TBSP rice vinegar or lime juice
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 bunches chopped scallion
  • 2 bird’s eye chilies, minced (or a pinch of chili pepper)

Cook noodles as directed on package then drain.

Combine ingredients to make sauce, heat over medium low and add shrimp.  Cook 1-2 minutes per side.

Combine ingredients to make dressing.

Place noodles on a large serving platter, drizzle with dressing and arrange shrimp and sauce mixture over noodles.  Garnish with chopped peanuts.

Serves 4

Kickass Shrimp Marinade

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons oregano (dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
Also makes kickass grilled chicken.  Whisk all the ingredients and marinate the shrimp in a bowl or plastic bag for 30-60 minutes (any longer and the lime can start to break down the shrimp).
The hot pepper sauce really makes this and actually does not create as much heat but smoky flavor. Grill and enjoy!

Mediterranean Vegetable, White Bean and Feta Penne

Here is a great recipe from Clean Eating Magazine.  I didn’t have the veggies called for, but used as a base. I’ve never tried pasta and white beans together and it was great! We used tomatoes, asparagus and a dash of white wine in our version and tossed with shrimp.  The combo of feta, pasta and beans added an almost creamy texture and we will definitely make again!

  • 6 oz whole-grain penne pasta
  • 1 cup cooked canned white beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced, divided
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into eighths lengthwise, then cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, cut into thin strips, then cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta (we stick to regular feta)
  1. Cook penne according to package directions, adding beans during the last minute of cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, 2 cloves garlic, vinegar, basil, pepper flakes and salt; set aside.
  3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in same skillet over medium high heat, tilting skillet to coat bottom lightly. Add zucchini and bell pepper and cook for 4 minutes or until edges begin to brown, stirring frequently. Add remaining 2 cloves garlic and cook for 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in tomato mixture and drizzle with remaining 1 tbsp oil. Cover to keep warm.
  4. Drain penne-bean mixture, place in a serving bowl, sprinkle evenly with rosemary and all but 1/4 cup feta. Spoon vegetable mixture over top and finish with remaining feta.

Amazing Baked Chicken Parm

I love chicken parmesan and have been experimenting with panko (Japanese bread crumbs) and perfected the second attempt with the following recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.  Thank you to browneyedbaker.com for testing this and sharing with the world!

Lighter Chicken Parmesan
(Source: Cook’s Illustrated, October 2006)

  • 1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Table salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat and sliced into cutlets
  • 2 cups tomato sauce , warmed
  • 3 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Combine the bread crumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow dish and cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan

In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. In a third shallow dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, place a wire rack on top, and spray the rack with vegetable oil spray. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the egg whites, and finally coat with the bread crumbs, Press on the bread crumbs to make sure they adhere. Lay the chicken on the wire rack.

Spray the tops of the chicken with vegetable oil spray. Bake until the meat is no longer pink in the center and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce onto the center of each cutlet and top the sauce with 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella. Return the chicken to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve, passing the remaining sauce and Parmesan separately.

Per Serving:
Cal 310; Fat 8 g; Sat fat 2.5 g; Chol 75 mg; Carb 20 g; Protein 38 g; Fiber 1 g; Sodium 790 mg

Mayo be Gone

We love light and clean, but I also crave wicked classics that call for mayonnaise, such as homemade chicken salad.  Light or fat-free versions of mayo not only taste disgusting, but are also often loaded with chemicals.  Some call for substituting low-fat sour cream, which has produced mixed results.  What’s a foodie to do?

Enter non-fat greek-style yogurt.  My savior.  Clean, natural, and tastes like sour cream with a bit of a kick.  And no fat!  Makes much heart-healthier items such as ranch dressing, beef stroganoff (YES!), dips, chicken and potato salads. . . the list goes on.

We have both Fage and Chobani brands.  Learn more here: US News & World Report

(chicken) Sausage & Egg Breakfast Casserole

Update!  March 2010 and 25 pounds lighter since I originally posted this recipe in July 2009.

I have now discovered a cleaner way to make this casserole that’s super healthy and 70% lower in fat.  We follow the basic recipe below, substituting the usual suspects with chicken sausage (the only sausage we eat now), egg beaters, fresh mushrooms, mushroom broth reduction (in lieu of canned soup), shredded white Irish cheddar and omitting the fried onions.

Sorry guys, you had to go.  I look too good naked to ever take you back.

The Original Sausage & Egg Breakfast Casserole Recipe

Looking for that comfort food recipe that will make you famous in your community? The meal that people will ask you for time and time again, “Oh this is lovely! What’s the recipe?”  Behold THE breakfast casserole.

The most requested meal for the last 20 years in our household!  Though we only generally make it for Christmas morning, as I’m now grown and a thousand miles away from the coup, I still like to whip this up a couple of times a year.  Wicked, for sure, but very satisfying!  Best of all is that you can make this the night before (best that way) and just whack it in the oven when you wake up.

This one is a keeper and as infamous as Dotty’s Bicardi Rum Cake.  Try this out, and your friends and family will come back to you again and again!  Courtesy of Southern Living’s  1986 Annual Cookbook.  Yup, from 1986.

  • 2 and 1/4 c. seasoned croutons (or one box Pepperidge Farm seasoned croutons)
  • 1 Pound of ground sausage, cooked until browned and crumbled. Drain.
  • One 8 oz can of sliced mushrooms, drained (ok, I use fresh mushrooms)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 and 1/4 c milk
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (we use Campbell’s Restricted Sodium Diet version. Who needs all that salt??)
  • 3/4 t. dry mustard
  • 1 can of French’s Friend Onions (this is optional and really what makes this recipe wicked and indulgent)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar

Spread croutons in a greased 9×13″ pan. Sprinkle cooks and drained sausage over the croutons. Sprinkle mushrooms over sausage. Combine eggs, milk, soup and mustard, mixing well. Pour mixture evenly over the sausage and croutons.  Sprinkle with onion rings (optional) and cover tight with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from fridge and let stand on the counter for 30 minutes. Bake uncovered at 325 degrees F for 50-55 minutes. Center should appear “set” and not liquid.

Sprinkle cheese over the top and return to the over for an additional five minutes or until melted.

Variations: in place of sausage, try cubed ham or crumbled bacon.

Screw Powerbar, Make Your Own Energy Bar

Great article from roadcycler.com.  These bars cost about 50-65 cents each to make, a lot more affordable than the $2 powerbars in the stores.  Makes a GREAT dessert if you have a craving for chocolate after dinner

We break the bars into quarters as that seems to be enough fuel for us.  If you make full-sized bars, the nutrition breaks down to the following:

  • 472 calories
  • 14 g fat
  • 13.7 g protein
  • 54.25 g carbs

In our second installment of the ongoing “Screw [insert big corporation], do it yourself” articles, we will break down a few ways to make your own supremely healthy energy bar. I have scoured the internet for recipes, and fired up the oven to test out the best way to make a good energy bar on your own. There are a lot of good recipes to chose from, but I have done a bit of modding to make the ultimate bars.

Let’s start off with a simple, but fantastic recipe. For those of us who like to keep it simple, this one is great. It requires very little time, or cooking skill.

Start off breaking up your favorite dark chocolate bar (70% cocoa or more) into tiny chunks. Then mix 1 cup of natural peanut butter and 1 cup of honey in a non-stick pot under medium heat. Cook this until fully mixed, and slightly runny. Next, add 3 cups of old fashioned uncooked, non-instant oatmeal and mix well. Take this off the heat and let cool for 2 minutes. Add the dark chocolate to the mix while still warm. Press this into a 9″ x 13″ pan. Put in the fridge until completely cool, and cut to desired bar size. Enjoy.

This bar is so beautifully simple and tasty. It is one of my favorite quick bars. You get good fats and protein from the peanut butter, some good fiber from the oats, a quick boost from the honey sugars, and some antioxidants and caffeine from the chocolate. Beautiful.

Easy No-Knead Bread

I was reading an article by Michelle Gienow in this week’s Orlando Weekly about SOLE food.  She mentioned a wonderful recipe for no-knead bread, and the following recipe comes from the New York Times.

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Irish Lamb Stew


Here’s an excellent slow cooker recipe from EatingWell.com

Lamb stew is Irish penicillin: a rich stew full of potatoes, leeks and carrots that’ll cure whatever ails you. In traditional fashion, nothing here is browned first, just all stewed together. To keep it healthy make sure to trim the lamb of any visible fat before you cook it.

  • 2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 3/4 pounds white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 large leeks, white part only, halved, washed (see Tip) and thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Combine lamb, potatoes, leeks, carrots, celery, broth, thyme, salt and pepper in a 6-quart slow cooker; stir to combine. Put the lid on and cook on low until the lamb is fork-tender, about 8 hours. Stir in parsley before serving.

266 Calories; 7 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 3 g Mono; 65 mg Cholesterol; 27 g Carbohydrates; 23 g Protein; 4 g Fiber; 427 mg Sodium; 803 mg Potassium

Tips & Notes

  • Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Equipment: 6-quart slow cooker
  • To clean leeks, trim and discard green tops and white roots. Split leeks lengthwise and place in plenty of water. Swish the leeks in the water to release any sand or soil. Drain. Repeat until no grit remains.