Monday, June 6, 2011

Pineapple Bake

Many tasty desserts have fruit in them. Despite this fact, we all know that pie isn’t necessarily a health food that we should be munching on any chance we get. Have you ever heard someone say that they were on the new apple pie diet? I’m going to hazard a guess that hasn’t happened. On the other hand, what happens when the fruit is the dessert? It’s not bad for you then. That’s what happens when you cook pineapple lightly covered in brown sugar and serve with some low fat cool whip. The combination of the sweet, juicy, warm pineapple and the creamy, cold and smooth cool whip is amazing. All you have to do is cut up a large pineapple into chunks, toss it, throw into a ceramic baking dish and cook for 30 to 45 minutes.

If you can’t get your kids to eat fruit then this is a great solution. You’re going to have to beat them back from this stuff with a heavy-duty spoon. Nobody can resist a healthy dessert that tastes like one that’s bad for you. This pineapple bake is composed almost entirely of the main ingredient and that is a piece of fruit! Other pineapple recipes for desserts probably couldn’t make that claim. It’s such an excellent way to end a meal and the other day I substituted it for a bowl of ice cream. Get creative in the kitchen people and have some fun. Now you don’t have to listen to mom’s voice telling you to eat some fruit instead of dessert because our eating both!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Crispy Cheesburger Pizza

Sometimes, you just want pizza. You could have a healthy meal instead but there are times when you'd rather eat the soles of your own shoes than attempt to do this. Pizza essentially is a spare tire to wear around your midsection packaged up in a nice brown box and delivered to your doorstep. So what happens when your trying to watch your weight and you want to take out a box of this goodness anyway? Make a 240 calorie crispy cheeseburger pizza with this recipe from Hungry Girl. Katy made this the other day and it was excellent. The key is to use a low carb tortilla instead of pizza dough for the crust. The Joseph's lavash in the picture was only fifty calories. Everything on this crispy delicacy was a cheeseburger topping right down to the ketchup and mustard. Hungry Girl has a cookbook with all sorts of things that you'll get cravings for but shouldn't necessarily eat all the time. I've made some of their breakfast bowls which I've enjoyed and there are many recipes for low fat burgers and things. I don't generally use soy meat products but gravitate more toward lean ground turkey to replace beef. Here is the crispy cheeseburger pizza recipe from the Hungry Girl website:

1 1/2 tbsp. ketchup
1/2 tbsp. fat-free mayonnaise
1 tsp. yellow mustard
1/2 cup frozen ground-beef-style soy crumbles (like Boca or Morningstar Farms, thawed
1La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious Low Carb High Fiber Large Tortilla
1/4 cup shredded fat-free cheddar cheese
1 tbsp. chopped onion
3 tbsp. shredded lettuce
2 tbsp. chopped tomato
Optional toppings: hamburger dill pickle chips, additional ketchup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small dish, combine ketchup, mayo, and mustard, and mix until uniform. Add soy crumbles and toss to coat. Set aside.

Lightly spray a medium-large skillet with nonstick spray and bring to medium heat on the stove. Lay tortilla flat in the skillet and cook until slightly crispy, a few minutes on each side.

Transfer tortilla to a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Scoop soy crumble mixture into the center of the tortilla and spread it out evenly, leaving a 1/2-inch border around it. Evenly sprinkle with cheese and onion.

Bake in the oven for 11 - 13 minutes, until tortilla border browns and cheese melts.

Top with lettuce and tomato. If you like, add pickles and a squiggle of ketchup. Cut into slices and EAT!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

I know what your thinking. This doesn't look like a salad. In my opinion, this dessert resembles strawberry shortcake. The difference is, there is no spongy cake part but a layer of salty crushed pretzels. Imagine sweet tasty strawberries on top of a smooth, whipped cream thickened with cream cheese, and undercoated with a crunchy, salty pretzel crust. It's wonderful to find that the sweet and soft aspects of this dish are counteracted by the salty and crisp pretzel coating which is it's exact polar opposite. I'm not usually a dessert guy, but something about this captivates me as I compare the taste and textures while it comes together in a harmony of perfect flavor. This will never be safe in my house. It will be hunted, savored and reborn often. How can anyone resist the evolution of dessert? Never have pretzels been used as a component of a recipe and had such a profound effect. This is Mach 5 of the flavor spectrum baby. Add it to the recipe book and blow the relatives away removing any desire to further insult you during the visit!

Here is how it's done:

Adapted from Paula Deen (via “Paula’s Home Cooking,” Food Network)
· 2 cups crushed pretzels (You want small pieces, but don’t pulverize them in a food processor.)
· 3/4 cup melted butter
· 3 tablespoons sugar
· 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
· 3/4 cup sugar
· 1 (8-ounce) container whipped topping
· 2 (3-ounce) packages strawberry gelatin dessert mix
· 2 cups boiling water
· 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen strawberries
· 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
· Whipped topping or whipped cream, to garnish
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. For the Crust: Grab a medium bowl, add the pretzels, butter and 3 tablespoons of sugar, and mix them together. Press this mixture into a 9 by 13-inch pan. Bake for 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. For the Filling: In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and 3/4 cup of sugar. Fold in the whipped topping, and spread over the cooled crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until well chilled.
4. For the Topping: In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin in boiling water, and allow to cool slightly. Add the strawberries and pineapple, and pour over the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until serving time.
5. Serve slices with a dollop of whipped topping.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chicken Tacos

There is nothing quite like coming home from a big bad day at work to find out that you saved the fast and easy recipe for tonight. That's right boys and girls, you remembered to get a recipe at the grocery store to plan for this situation where you just don't want to cook. These tasty chicken tacos take only seconds to make if you have leftover or a rotisserie chicken purchased from the supermarket. All the other ingredients are cold and ready to go in good old Bobby the fridge. That's right, I named my fridge Bobby because it's over twenty years old, but that's not what's important here. The thing to take away from this is that it's possible to cook a quick and healthy dinner just by having a bit of leftovers. Sure you need to remember the lettuce, salsa, shredded cheese and taco shells but everything except the lettuce is easy to keep around for long periods of time without it going bad. It's like you came home and somebody just put this down in front of you. The table beckons to you as you come in the door and get a nice bottle of hot sauce at the ready. There will be no wasted money on take out tonight friends. Only the sweet, tasty and rather versatile possibilities that this dish provides. You could make them spicy, or sneak in a zesty mexican flavor like Arizona Five Spice. Perhaps some sweet, tangy kick is what your looking for in which case some freshly squeezed lemon wedges will do the trick. Maybe a can of fat free refried beans will make it come together and taste more authentic. Get creative with the toppings and you'll find your groove with this. If beef tacos are what you really want, then pick up some lean ground turkey at the grocery store and brown in in a pan for a bit. Personally, I can't tell the difference between this and the real thing. In the time it takes to order and wait you could already be munching on this far healthier and probably tastier alternative that the whole family will enjoy. What little kid turns his nose up at having tacos for dinner? It's on the top ten list along with french fries and pizza.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cedar Plank Salmon

Just when I think I'm starting to see all the food world has to offer, I learn that I've only scratched the surface of its vast and wonderful possibilities. Until last week, I didn't know it was possible to cook salmon on a cedar plank but I recommend doing so highly! Because the wood is soaked in water before being placed on the grill, it steams the fish and gives it a wonderful smoky flavor that is sure to be a winner every time. The first thing you'll notice is the distinctly familiar scent of warm cedar as the plank sizzles on the grill. Although you can use hickory, maple or cherry wood, there is nothing I'd rather pair salmon with. The flavor is just amazing! Thanks to my sister's husband Scott, this fish came out excellent. As with any great meal, a pairing of the right side dishes brings it all together in a blend of nicely paired flavors and textures. We found roasted potatoes with broccolli and cauliflower went quite well with the meal. My nephew, with his highly refined palate, decided to have a hamburger and skip this deliciousness. Despite his unfortunate mistake, we love him anyway. There are different ways to enjoy a dish like this and also alternatives to get that great cedar flavor as well. For example, found a recipe that uses cedar woodchips and pairs the salmon with Jasmine rice, braised collard greens. Summer is finally here and that means your grill will become an essential weapon in the fight against hunger and boring cuisine. Fill up that propane tank and dream people. Dream of cedar plank salmon!!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Juicy Watermelon

This obviously isn't a meal. One look at this on a sweltering day however, and you'd seriously consider attempting to make it one. There are few foods that are more satisfying than a juicy watermelon when the mercury has risen over 90 and you've just about had it. Other than a cold icy beverage or a dunk in the pool nothing can quite compare. There aren't too many ways of eating this delightful treat that I'm aware of but I've never met one I didn't like. Some prefer to eat it in slices where you simply shoot the seeds out machine gun style as you work your way through. This has always been my personal favorite because it's how I used to take it down when I was a kid. Katy prefers using a mellon baller as pictured here. The most common use of this versatile fruit among the college crowd is of course to spike it with vodka. As some girls I knew found out the hard way, this does not fool law enforcement officials because they know what spiked fruit smells like! They tend to get upset if your underage and indulging in this delicacy because they are on duty and can't partake on a hot day. They are in a very warm uniform and even if they have a little taste they'll probably get sticky juice on their fingers and ultimately down the front. So they yell and scream at you then throw your spiked watermelon in the parking lot of the Ozzy concert. Ah memories. But seriously, it's difficult not to look to the summer flavors because here in New England we crave summer. After a six month winter of freezing gusts turning our blood to ice the mere thought of a hot day with a juicy piece of watermelon makes us drool. So put this on your to do list ladies and gents!! This fine food will be remembered by your kids as a summer staple for years to come!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mango Salsa

Once in a while, you find the perfect addition to a light summer meal. Something both cool and refreshing, yet not a dessert. It's healthy, it's delicious and of course it's mango salsa!! Until last week, I'd never even heard of this but let me tell you, it's sweet, a bit spicy, and so bright you'll need to put on a pair of shades when you eat it. The ingredients in this unique summery treat are mango, jalepaneo, green onion,lime juice, salt and pepper. We put this on taco's instead of the conventional tomato based salsa and what a difference! It's like we kicked up the health factor and put a completely different spin on a dish that was already guaranteed to be a winner. Just look at this stuff!! Some of the senior members of your family may not even be able to contemplate what this is. You may need to explain it to them several times and one single taste may be enough to induce a jaw dropping flavor coma rendering them speechless. But of course, if this seems like too much of a long shot you could probably spike it with tequila to achieve the desired affect.