Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lazy Monday: Ode to Jarred Sauce

Lazy Monday: Ode to Jarred Sauce... The holiday season has commenced, and just like many of you out there I too traveled out of town last week - which meant my grocery shopping trip was a quick loop through TJs after work on Monday night (jumping off the bus a block before the door and timing my checkout to get me right on the next bus home, gotta love windy city livin'!). Anyway, I stocked up on some of the usuals - tuna, pork loin, chicken breasts, brussels, kale, broccoli, onions, sweet potatoes, yogurt, bananas bla bla bla. I got home after shopping and was in no mood to muss and fuss over making a big meal. I also figured I'd continue the gluttonous carbo load that had ensued the prior 5 days for just one more meal.

On the Menu:
TJ's Papardelle with Sausage Ragu & Haricot Vert

I had a jar of a Dahlicious looking Sausage Ragu from William Sonoma that was part of a pasta themed gift for my birthday and it seemed like the perfect thing to pair with a papardelle noodle. Papardelle is really one of my favorites (perhaps it also makes sense that in asian cooking I prefer wider flat rice noodles as well). There's just something about an al dente, wide, flat noodle clinging to a hearty sauce that is, for me, reminiscent of a hug. Comfort food you could say.

Anywho, I figured that if I was basing my dinner off of a pre-made sauce (of high quality at least!) that I would add a few fresh ingredients of my own. Enter chopped parsley and grated parmesan.

I poured about 1/3 of the jarred sauce in a pan over medium heat while the pasta cooked for approximately 5 minutes. Once the pasta was al dente, I fished it out of the pot, letting some of the starchy water cling to the noodles, and then tossed it in the now lightly bubbling sauce. Once it was nicely mixed I threw in a palm full of chopped fresh parsley as well as a little grated parmesan cheese. I gave it a toss and served it up with steamed haricot vert (pretty much just skinny green beans). I gave the greens a little squeeze of lemon and finished the pasta with a bit more parm and chopped parsley.

The meal was perfect for the Monday night I was having. It was hearty and filling, but the fresh parsley and the lemony greens gave it a light and healthful feel. I would highly recommend checking out this sauce.. I have two more to try and will report out on how Dahlicious they are too. Happy eating all!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Seared Tuna & Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

Seared Tuna & Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad... Simple and light. That was my Tuesday night. We had a potluck planned at work on Wednesday where I knew I'd be eating a lot so I prepped with this meal. Although I will admit, I was baking some cookies for the event and may have snuck 1 or 4 after my healthy dinner (but who counts broken cookies anyways...?).

The Tuna:
Per usual I kept it simple, olive oil, lemon, lemon pepper - on the grill pan at high heat for 4 minutes on the first side, turn it down a bit and another couple min on the other side. Voila.

The Salad:
I still love the already shaved brussels in the produce section of TJ's. So dang easy and good. They have quite a crunch though so be sure to toss them in dressing before you make the rest of your meal so they have a little time to soften. I tossed mine in this TJ's balsamic that I just love in a pinch. I usually stick with olive oil, white balsamic, lemon, etc but sometimes you need a little creaminess in your life and this dressing does the trick without tons of calories. While the brussels were soaking up that yummy balsamic goodness, I got to chopping. One large ripe avocado, a handful of baby heirloom tomatoes, and a few cooked beets. I also used these ingredients for another salad this week - so handy to have around!
Undressed brussels

Yummiest dressing

BRIGHT veggies

Finished salad

The Meal:
I gave the salad a toss and piled it on my plate. I topped with with my seared tuna and dinner was served!


Hope this post gives some inspiration for your next dinner time salad at home!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Baked Corn Flake Chicken Fingers

Baked Corn Flake Chicken Fingers... I was never one of those kids that was particularly interested in kid food. Chicken fingers, PB&J sandwiches, ketchup. - none of these foods enticed me. When I came home and wanted a snack I insisted on my mom making homemade fried mozzarella (yes I had her slice hunks of mozzarella  dip them in egg wash and Italian bread crumbs and fry them over the stove). When I was in middle school and I brought my lunch everyday I refused to bring a turkey sandwich like most kids, instead my mom made sure we always had plenty of leftovers (even enough for my two best friends as well) to eat a hot meal at lunch. So you can imagine my own surprise with myself when I was interested in making chicken fingers at home. I happened to read a recipe that sparked some interest and when I found myself in the check out line with a package of raw chicken tenders and a box of TJs corn flakes I knew I would have to follow through. And so my healthier adult version of a kiddie meal was born.

On the Menu:
Baked Corn Flake Chicken Fingers w/ Roasted Brussels Sprouts

The Chicken:
Usually if you fry chicken or add a breading it is a good idea to use an egg wash or marinate the meat in buttermilk. I saw somewhere that it was suggested to use Greek Yogurt instead, so I went for it. On Monday night as I was cleaning up after dinner I prepped just a bit for Tuesdays meal by placing the chicken tenders in a large glass bowl with about a cup of plain Greek yogurt and a liberal shaking of paprika. I covered it with saran wrap and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Then once I was ready to crust the little chickies I removed them from the fridge and dredged them one by one in the corn flakes. For this mix I put a ton of cornflakes in a Ziploc bag and crushed them by hand until they were the size I wanted, then I put them on a plate and tossed them with some salt and pepper and voila! Once the tenders were coated I put them in the oven at 400 for about 15 minutes.

Pre Bake
The Brussels:
I just cut them in half and drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and placed them in the oven at 425 for 40 minutes. I did this as I was prepping the chicken and so I took the Brussels out and put the tenders right in.

Pre Roast

Post Roast

BBQ Sauce, Honey Mustard, Ketchup


The meal was yummy and different! I used 3 sauces: 1) TJ's BBQ, 2) My own mixture of spicy brown mustard and a squeeze of honey, 3) Ketchup.

It was easy and fun to try! My challenge to all of you is to come up with a "kiddie" food you either LOVED in childhood or perhaps you've only come to enjoy as an adult, and create your own spin on it. It's fun to see what you can come up with! Hope yall are having a Dahlicious week.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tuna & Acorn Squash

Tuna & Acorn Squash... It's that time of year when root vegetables & gourds are not only on display for your viewing pleasure, but are actually there for you to take home and cook! I've never done much cooking of squashes and fall veggies in the past, but this year I'm really feeling it. Last week at TJ's I saw a beautiful acorn squash and felt compelled to buy the little guy. I figured I'd find room for him somewhere in my belly. So, last night I decided it was time for the sweet gourd to play a part in my dinner.

On the Menu:
Broiled Lemon Tuna w/ Sauteed Broccolini & Roasted Acorn Squash

The Tuna:
While the squash cooked (which took about 45 minutes) I let my tuna marinate in lemon juice and a liberal shake of lemon pepper. Easy Peasy. Once the squash was out of the oven I popped the Tuna in  there (on the same baking sheet with new aluminum lining) and cooked for approximately 6 minutes on each side. The oven had been on 400 but I changed it to broil just as I slid the tuna steaks in. An extra squeeze of lemon after they came out and they were good to go!

The Broccolini:
Sauteed in garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. They really are such a great vegetable. As my significant other has said when I buy broccoli now "Who eats broccoli anymore when you have broccolini???". It's stems have a nice firm crunch and the thinner florets at the top absorb more of the garlicky olive oil. They also cook fairly quickly especially when lightly steamed for a minute at the very end before serving.

The Acorn Squash:
I started by cutting the squash in half. Well I did it the "wrong way" but it didn't seem to mater. They are sort of egg shaped with a small stem on each end. I think you are supposed to cut it the long way, but I cut right around the chubby center. Then I cut off the two top stem parts so that the halves could sit open and flat on the baking sheet. I scooped out all the seeds (just like a pumpkin or spaghetti squash) and drizzled with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a sprinkle of cinnamon  I read a bunch of recipe's that suggested honey, maple sugar, brown sugar, butter, etc but I figured this would be a good way to get a little sweet taste without all the calories. Cinnamon is a great go to. And to be totally transparent I did add a thin slice of butter right before eating!

The good part about this dinner was that I felt as though I was getting some rich fall flavors and a warm starchy treat, while still eating a very low calorie and low fat meal. It was filling and easy and Dahlicious!

Tentative Week of Dinner

Tentative Week of Dinner:

Sunday I did my weekly shopping, stocking up on my usual's and filling in the gaps of what I didn't already have to make a few complete meals for the week. My usual's include bananas, Trader Joe's strawberry and blueberry single serve Greek yogurts, Kashi go lean crunch, and eggs. That makes up my breakfast and snack (hard boiled eggs are a great protein treat for me between breakfast and lunch when I'm dying of starvation by 10 am at my desk.).

I knew that I had some tuna steaks at home that I wanted to make this week, along with a head of broccoli  a bunch of Brussels sprouts, and an acorn squash just waiting to be roasted. I knew that I wanted to make 4 dinners and have enough for lunch and leftovers. As I strolled through the store I picked up fresh ingredients that sounded Dahlicious - estimating 1 protein & two veggies per night. Here is my menu:

Seared Tuna w/ sauteed brocolini and roasted acorn squash

Baked Chicken Tenders (marinated in greek yogurt and coated in crushed corn flakes) with roasted Brussels sprouts

Grilled Pork Chops with sauteed onions, broccoli, mushrooms, and bell peppers

Italian Chicken Sausages with sauteed Kale and Baked Feta

Monday has clearly come and gone and the seared tuna with acorn squash was a hit the first time around, and now I'm just waiting to dig in at lunch! A post about that is coming next! Happy Election Day everyone - I think my healthy chicken fingers are pretty fitting on this good ole American eve!