April 17, 2014

Orzo & Grape Salad with Feta & Mint ♥ Week Three, Day Two - EatingWell Meal Plan

I could not wait to make this salad. I had visions of a deconstructed Waldorf, you know, with the grapes and cheese and olives and of course, almonds. Only The Nudge told me, quite authoritatively, that a Waldorf has apples and walnuts and no orzo.

Poo-poo on him. OK, let's just call it a reconstructed Waldorf-style Pasta Salad. He certainly did not go poo-poo after tasting this.

I am enamored with the Mediterranean Orzo side the Macaroni Grill serves with most of their main dishes. It gave me a reason to love orzo as a side and not just in soups. Orzo works so well in salads and supplies the chew that can support a crunch, a salty and a sweet mixture of ingredients and, allows them to shine. Some pasta salads are all pasta and can be starchy, sticky and require a ton of dressing to keep it loose. This is light and refreshing and worked well with grilled chicken breasts.

The next day, I chopped the chicken and made a chicken & orzo salad wrap, yummy! I will be making this many times this summer. It would travel well and be a nice surprise treat for picnickers.

Orzo, Grape and Blue Cheese Salad
Makes: 6 servings

* 3/4 cup orzo
* 2 tablespoons EVOO
* 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon honey
* Salt & pepper to taste
* 2 cups quartered green or red grape
* 1 ounce buttermilk blue cheese or, feta cheese
* 2 tablespoons almonds or, walnuts
* 2 tablespoons chopped red onion or shallot
* 2 tablespoons minced Kalamata olives

1. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add orzo and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.
2. Whisk oil, mayo, lemon juice, honey, salt & pepper. Add the grapes, onion, almonds to the orzo. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine.

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April 15, 2014

Artichoke & Meatball Easter and Passover Appetizers

This year my contribution to our Easter table is a roasted carrot & goat cheese tart & this salmon meatball appetizer dish, but for those looking for a few artichoke dishes, these two hits were from Easter 2011.

Artichoke Fritters and Hearts of Gold with three dipping sauces. These were a hit, and nothing was left over.
Since I usually do stuffed mushrooms, these were a nice change.

Artichoke Fritters
adapted from food52.com
makes about 40 small fritters

* 2 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed well
* 1/2 medium sized onion, skin removed and trimmed
* 3 garlic cloves, peeled
* 1 1/3 cup garbanzo/fava flour
* 1 large egg
* kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon white truffle oil (optional)
* 3 teaspoons salted capers, rinsed and minced
* vegetable oil for frying

1. Add all the ingredients, except the capers, to a food processor and puree until you have a smooth paste. It should still be loose not stiff. Stir in the minced capers. Ask a question about this step.
2. I like to use a wok to fry them but a deep pot would work well here too. Put enough oil into the pot so the fritters will float without touching the bottom of the pan. Just make sure the pot is no more than 1/3 full of oil. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Ask a question about this step.
3. Heat the oil to 350 degree or if you do not have a fry thermometer drop a little dough in and if it pops right back up and bubbles furiously you are good to go. Ask a question about this step.
4. Using a #60 scoop or a tablespoon slip the batter gently into the oil. Do not over crowd and do not let them brown to quickly. Reduce the heat if necessary. Ask a question about this step.
5. When they have finished cooking remove them to a paper towel lined plate or oven proof dish to drain. Slide them into the oven to keep warm while finishing. Repeat the above step until all the batter is gone. Serve immediately.

Lemon-Garlic Mayonnaise
* 1 egg yolk
* 1/2 lemon, juiced
* salt & pepper
* 2 garlic cloves
* 1 tsp Dijon mustard
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil

In a food processor, place first 5 ingredients and process until smooth. With machine running slowly drip the oil into the processor until thick and creamy.
Taste for seasonings.

Savory Grapefruit Sabayon
* 1/4 cup chicken stock
* 1 1/2 tablespoon grapefruit flavored vodka (or vermouth)
* 1/2 cup grapefruit juice
* 2 teaspoons grapefruit zest
* 1 teaspoon honey
* 2 egg yolks
* 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. In a small saucepan, simmer the stock and vodka until reduced by half. Let cool. Ask a question about this step.
2. Combine grapefruit juice, zest and honey in a small bowl. Add to cooled stock mixture. Ask a question about this step.
3. Make a double boiler by bringing some water to boil in a saucepan. Place egg yolks in a small bowl, preferably metal, and place over saucepan. Slowly begin to add the stock mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. You may need to take the bowl on and off the hot water so as not to overcook the eggs. The sabayon will start off frothy and then become thick and creamy. Ask a question about this step.
4. Cook until an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees F.

I wanted to make a whole artichoke heart fried with a dipping sauce. This next recipe was perfect.

Artichoke Hearts of Gold
* 2 globe artichokes, preferable with some stalk
* 1/2 lemon
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1/2 cup Panko and dry bread crumbs, mixed together

1. Prepare the artichokes: Peel all the leaves off the choke. Peel the stalk and with a paring knife neatly trim the bottom where you removed the leaves. Ask a question about this step.
2. Cut the trimmed artichokes in half vertically and with a spoon remove the hairy choke. Be careful when cutting in half to evenly cut the stem, too. Ask a question about this step.
3. Rub immediately with lemon juice so the artichoke doesn't get brown (which happens very quickly!). Steam the hearts until tender. Time will vary depending on the size of the hearts (about 15 minutes). Ask a question about this step.
4. Dip each artichoke half into the egg and then into the bread crumbs. Ask a question about this step.
5. Fry in the olive oil over medium heat until golden.
6. Set on paper towels to absorb the oil. Ask a question about this step.

Creamy Cumin-Lime Dipping Sauce:
* 1/2 cup creme fraiche
* 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
* finely grated zest of a lime
* juice of a lime
* salt

1. Mix all the ingredients together, adding salt to taste. Ask a question about this step.
2. Serve the golden hearts warm with the creamy dipping sauce.

Hope your Easter and Passover was wonderful this year!!

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April 14, 2014

Creamy Radish Soup ♥ Week Three, Day One - EatingWell Meal Plan

This was not on the meal plan, but should have been. It was a recipe on EatingWell.com so I added this to replace the day we were suppose to eat the other half of the shrimp dumplings that would have been in my freezer (not gonna happen).

There is always a reason why I replace one dish with another that is already on the menu. In this case it was the bag of radishes not being consumed quickly enough. I have used baked radishes in this side, and knew when roasted or braised they turned from a spicy bite to a sweet earthy flavor. I had to make this soup.
I hoped that The Nudge would embrace this as much as I did.

He proclaimed this soup a keeper (yay!!), and although I served it hot, we both agreed it would be great cold with a finishing swirl of creme fraiche. The perfect warm weather starter and something no one would guess at but would like, very much.

Not only is this low in calories and carbs, it is also low in fat.
Often at 5:00 am, I find myself surfing the TV and there was Dr. Oz talking about the 5 epic diet mistakes smart women are making and why diets fail and that most people are eating the wrong "diet foods". He peaked my interest, so much so that I found myself here and I highly recommend you bookmark it, and download this. It made so much sense that I am ordering a copy of the book that was the basis for the segment I watched, Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Super Immunity Diet.

While eating only those foods on the list would require something of a miracle and only for those training for a huge physical goal, actually including a few in your everyday eating is not all that hard to do and as you read the list, will realize that we were quite familiar that most of the ones at the top are super foods.
The beauty of tucking this list into your pocketbook or on your phone/iPad would be if someone needed to choose grapes or strawberries when shopping. This list will make that decision for you.

I would have loved to discover this list a few weeks ago, while embarking on this meal plan review, because I could see, now, where a sub from this list for one in the original recipe would have really upped the benefits of an already healthy dish.

There is so much information thrown at us that I can see where making a personal meal plan can be a daunting experience. Do I cook for hubby, who loves steak but has high cholesterol or, grandpa's blood pressure problem or Johnny's need for protein during football season? How about my diabetes? My daughter's recent announcement that she's now eating Vegan! OMG.

I do agree that less dairy and meat is a good thing. The Nudge will always eat the meat first, than the vegetables and then the carb. His favorite meal is meatloaf, mashed potatoes and Lima beans and while traveling, will always plan a steak dinner. At least he will get a salad now. I feel like I have to hide the vegetables as you would for a tot.

My advice for multi-health-diet families is to make a dish for each, make them as healthy as you can and let them choose the ones they want or can, eat.

Creamy Radish Soup
Makes: 4 servings

* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 2 cups sliced radishes (I had smaller ones, so two bunches)
* 1/2 cup sweet onion
* 1 medium carrot, chopped
* 2 teaspoons potato flour or, 1 tablespoon potato flakes
* 2 cups low-fat milk (not skim)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4-1/2 teaspoon white or black pepper
* 1/4 cup lite sour cream
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh radish greens or parsley (optional, I wanted no specks)

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 3/4 cups of the radishes, carrot and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are beginning to brown and the radishes are translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix the potato flour with a little milk to dissolve and add that along with the rest of the milk and stir, until the mixture comes back to a boil. Reduce and cook for 1 minute. Remove to cool. Meanwhile, julienne the remaining 1/4 cup radish slices.
2. Using a stand blender or a stick blender, puree until smooth. Reheat before serving, adjust the seasonings and add the sour cream. Sprinkle julienned radish over soup and serve.

Per serving: 203 calories; 10g fat (3g sat, 6g mono); 12mg cholesterol; 22g carbohydrates; 6g protein; 3g fiber; 395mg sodium; 610mg potassium

1 1/2 carbohydrate serving
Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1/2 low-fat milk, 2 fat

My diabetic recommendation: Omit the potato, add in a carrot and use a mere teaspoon of potato flour as the thickener. This will lower the carbohydrate lower.

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