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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mary Ann's Sausage and Lentil Soup

Friends & Family

One afternoon all the girls were just sitting around the office chit chatting.  It was a Friday and we were all exhausted from the week and sooooo ready for the weekend.

Let me back up, I'm getting a head of myself.  

One of my very favorite people in this whole entire world is a beautiful lady by the name of Mary Ann.  Although I have not known her for very long, I just LOVE being around her.  And lucky for me, I get to work with her!  

Mary Ann happened to be "one of the girls just sitting around the office chit chatting" that Friday afternoon.

We were gib gabbing about our weekend plans and what we had going on, which wasn't much, when Mary Ann came up with a brilliant idea on how she was going to spend her relaxing Friday evening.  Rent a movie and curl up with a big bowl of her Sausage and Lentil soup.  I immediately got excited and I think Mary Ann could tell that I wanted to be a copy cat because she immediately wrote down her recipe and slipped it on my desk.  She's such a kind soul.

5 o'clock could not come fast enough.  I could not wait to get home to pour myself a big glass of wine, hop into my pj's and whip up this delicious soup recipe.

Let me tell you this soup was easy, delicious and absolutely perfect for a Friday evening (or any other day that ends in Y).  Unfortunately, we all know that sausage isn't the most figure friendly thing on the planet so I used chicken sausage in my recipe and it tasted divine.  That's just a minor alteration to the recipe to make it Skinny Girl style.  Really, you could leave out the sausage and make it a seriously Skinny Girl dish.  I promise that the soup is still quite tasty without it.

On the other hand, Fridays do make the perfect Cheat Day.

Enjoy friends and Cheers to Mary Ann for sharing this recipe and for just being, well fabulous!

Ingredients
2 TBL extra virgin olive oil
Lysander's Lentil Soup pack
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
28 ounce can Tuttorosso crushed tomatoes
2 lbs Italian Sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices

Directions
  1. Pick through and wash lentils.
  2. Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat.  Add sausage and cook until browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl.  Add onion, celery and carrots to the pot; cook until onion is translucent and vegetables begin to soften.  Add 4 1/2 cups water to the pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer.
  3. Add lentils, Lysander's Lentil Soup seasoning packet, crushed tomatoes and sausage.  
  4. Cover and simmer for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
PS  Simmer for as long as you like, adding liquid, when needed.  I say...the longer, the better.
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    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

    LAO's Slow Cooker Blingin' White Chicken Chili

    Skinny Girl

    Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of working with Laura Offenhauer aka LAO.  Not only is she hilarious, she has become a good friend.

    LAO resided in The Big Apple for the past 12 years.  She took a little "sabbatical" from the city that never sleeps and came "home."  And thank goodness she came "home", as part of her time at "home" was spent working with ME.

    Unfortunately, our little town couldn't keep her here for very long as she will be returning to The Big City to follow her true career path, which happens to be the high-end jewelry business.  I know...don't you feel sorry for her?

    So my girl is leaving me so she can go play with diamonds everyday.  That's just not fair.

    So as a parting gift, LAO gave me this Blingin' recipe.  Not only is this recipe super easy and Skinny Girl style but it is also VERY tasty.  Kyle gave it a two thumbs up, even asked if he could take some for lunch the next day.

    Although I am going to miss my LAO, who can blame her for wanting to spend their days "slaving" over diamonds?  I certainly can't...

    Ingredients
    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    2 cans canoloni beans; drained & rinsed
    1 bag frozen chopped white onions
    1 box of Chicken Broth, low-sodium
    Garlic Powder, to taste
    Green Tobasco, to taste
    Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to taste
    3 tsp cornstarch

    Directions
    1. Throw everything into a slow cooker EXCEPT the cornstarch.
    2. Cook on high at least 6 hours.
    3. About half way through the cooking process, mix the 3 tsp cornstarch with some of the liquid from the slow cooker.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the slow cooker and continue to cook until broth has thickened.
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    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

    Miranda Lambert's Peanut Butter Pie

    Cheat Day

    I am a HUGE Miranda Lambert fan!  I love her.  I think she is just the cutest thing and I want to be just like her :)
    A couple months back, around Thanksgiving, the fabulous Miranda was on the cover of Good Housekeeping magazine.  Unfortunately I don't have a subscription to Good Housekeeping as Kyle thinks I subscribe to "way too many magazines" as it is, so when I saw her picture on the cover in the check-out line at the grocery store...I was super excited!  I couldn't wait to read it.  

    The article was wonderful.  Talked about how she is dealing with her HUGLY successful career, her new marriage to the HOTTIE, Blake Shelton, and what she had planned for her Thanksgiving menu.

    The nice girl that Miranda is, she shared her Peanut Butter Pie recipe where she said that her husband, Blake, "craves this pie year-round."

    So...because I want to be just like Miranda, I decided to make it.  I knew that I wouldn't be disappointed.  She would never steer me wrong.  Although it's not good on the waistline, like at all, it is absolutely delicious!  So on your next Cheat Day, I suggest you give it a whirl.  

    Thank you Miranda!

    Serves:  10
    Ingredients
    1 (9-inch) refrigerated ready-to-use piecrust
    3/4 cup sugar
    1/3 cup cornstarch
    1 tsp salt
    4 cups whole milk
    4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
    3/4 cup peanut butter
    3 TBL butter, at room temperature
    1 TBL vanilla extract

    Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place pie crust in 9-inch pie plate; bake as label directions for one-crust pie shell.
    2. In a 4 quart saucepan, stir together sugar, cornstarch and salt.  In large bowl, whisk milk and egg yolks until blended; gradually whisk into sugar mixture.  Heat on medium 6 to 7 minutes or until mixture thickens and boils, stirring constantly.  Boil 1 minute, stirring.  Remove from heat; stir in peanut butter, butter and vanilla until well blended.
    3. Immediately pour peanut butter mixture into baked pie shell; press plastic wrap onto surface of filling.  Refrigerate pie at least 4 hours or until well chilled and set.
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    Monday, January 14, 2013

    Turkey Meatloaf

    Skinny Girl

    I just love comfort foods on Sunday night.  After a day working around the house, running errands or just being lazy, a good meal is most definitely in order.  I think that it helps to prepare me for the work week.  That's just my way of making myself feel better about eating those comfort foods because most of the time they ain't too cool on the waistline.

    I was not raised on Meatloaf so I don't really understand why I love it so much.  Wait just one second...I know why I love it so much...duhhh...it's like one big flavor blaster.  I mean all of the combined flavors packed into one dish...it's perfect.  So I must say that one of my ultimate favorite comfort foods is Meatloaf. 

    As I have mentioned before, I love Ina Garten (AKA The Barefoot Contessa).  I find that her recipes are simple, delicious and full of flavor.  So when I was on the search for a Turkey Meatloaf she was my first stop.  I honestly didn't think that she would have a recipe for a Turkey Meatloaf as I don't see her cooking with ground turkey breast that often so I was surprised when I found it.  Her recipe was my inspiration and a great start.  I made a couple of tweeks and added my own little spin.

    This Turkey Meatloaf has simple ingredients, it's easy to prepare and the end result is delicious.  Not to mention it will feed an army.  This Skinny Girl style recipe will NOT disappoint.

    Serves:  8 to 10
    Ingredients
    3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
    2 TBL extra virgin olive oil
    2 tsp kosher salt
    1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (1/2 tsp dried)
    1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
    3/4 cup chicken stock
    1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
    5 lbs ground turkey breast
    1 1/2 cups Italian Style dry bread crumbs
    3 eggs, beaten
    3/4 ketchup
    2 to 3 TBL white vinegar (to taste)

    Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
    2. In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes.  Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock and tomato paste and mix well.  Allow to cool to room temperature.
    3. Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs and onion mixture in a large bowl.  Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an greased sheet pan.  Spread the ketchup evenly on top.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. and the meatloaf is cook through.
    4. Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold in a sandwich.
    Note:  A pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf will keep the top from cracking.
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    Friday, January 4, 2013

    Spicy Turkey and Green Bean Stir Fry

    Skinny Girl

    For some reason I have always had a difficult time cooking rice.  I remember asking my Meme, "What's the secret to perfect rice?"  Meme's response, "boil in a bag."  

    So I was talking to a friend of mine about a recipe her Mom always makes in which the main ingredient is rice.  I asked her how her Mom's rice always turns out so perfect and she responded with, "Well she always cooks her rice in a rice maker, of course."  Genius idea!

    Ever since hearing that rumor....Rice Cooker = Perfect Rice...I have wanted a rice cooker.  So I added it to Kyle and my wedding registry.  Guess what?  We got one!  I was soooo excited when I opened up that rice cooker (and I know that secretly Kyle is too).  I immediately started reading the instruction manual and got the little jewel set up.  

    Seriously...you won't believe what these babies can do.  Not only can you cook a full blown meal in the thing but it makes perfect rice every single time with just a push of one button.  Easy as that!  Love it!

    Now that this rice maker has pride of place on my kitchen counter, I started looking for dinner ideas which included rice.  I stumbled upon this little darlin' in the Food Network Magazine.  I made it and Kyle loved it!  He's really into Soy Sauce right now for some reason.  And what did my handsome hubby have to say about this dish, "BOOM!  I love all this flavor."

    It now has been my "go-to" recipe the past couple of weeks.  And I didn't have to make any adjustments to make it Skinny Girl style.

    Keep in mind that you can still make the rice for this recipe without a rice maker but I would highly recommend investing in one.  I don't think you will be disappointed.

    Serves:  4

    Ingredients
    1 1/2 cups Basmati rice
    1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed
    3 TBL vegetable oil
    1/2 tsp sugar
    3/4 lb ground turkey breast
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 small half-sour pickle, finely chopped
    2 tsp Asian chile paste
    1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
    2 TBL low-sodium soy sauce
    1 TBL rice vinegar
    2 tsp cornstarch

    Directions
    If you are not using a rice maker...
    • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Stir in the rice, cover and boil until tender, about 18 minutes; drain well and keep warm. 
    If you are using a rice maker...
    • Follow your rice maker's instructions on cooking 1 1/2 cups of Basmati rice (told you it was easy).
    1. While the rice is cooking, preheat the broiler.  Toss the green beans, 1 1/2 TBL vegetable oil and the sugar on a rimmed baking sheet.  Broil, stirring once, until the beans are tender and charred, about 8 minutes.
    2. Heat the remaining 1 1/2 TBL vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the turkey and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned.  Add the garlic, pickle and chile paste (sometimes I add a little more chile paste) and cook until the garlic is slightly golden, about 3 minutes.
    3. Whisk the chicken broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar and cornstarch in a bowl.  Add the green beans to the skillet with the turkey mixture and cook, stirring 1 minutes.  Add the soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.  Serve with rice.
    Notes:  I found the half-sour pickles where the pickles are stored in the refrigerated section in the grocery store.  The Asian chile paste I found in the ethnic section of the grocery store.
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    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    Skinny Girl Chili

    Skinny Girl

    I'm back!!!!  Did ya miss me?  I know that it has been a while but between Thanksgiving, Kyle and my WEDDING and Christmas...I have been a little busy...to say the least.

    So now that I'm an old married woman I now will have more time to spend in the kitchen opposed to picking out flowers, table cloths and cake flavors.

    Alright...time to get serious.

    One of my very favorite foods in the entire world is Chili.  It always has been and probably always will be.  My Momma makes the best Chili ever!  I remember her making it when we would get our first cold front during the winter time...although the cold would only last like one day...it was still the perfect time to cuddle up in front of the fire with a big bowl of her delicious Chili.  She would serve it with a heaping spoonful of sour cream and a generous handful of shredded cheddar cheese on top...delicious! 

    Unfortunately Momma's recipe ain't so figure friendly so, I just made a couple adjustmetns to make it Skinny Girl style.  Needless to say I was very impressed with the way that it turned out.  Even though it is Skinny Girl style, it does not lack in flavor.  Don't forget to substitute Plain Fat Free Greek Yogurt for the sour cream and Low-Fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese opposed to the real stuff...that'll save ya some unwanted calories.

    I hope that you enjoy my Skinny Girl Chili as much as I have.  Perfect in front of a fire on a cold night.  If you are lacking in the cold weather department...like we are in Florida...just turn down the AC.  And what does my handsome husband (I love saying that) have to say about this recipe?  "It's the BOMB!"

    Serves:  A Ton

    Ingredients
    1.25 lbs ground turkey breast
    1 small Vidalia onion, diced
    1 small green bell pepper, diced
    2 TBL fresh garlic, diced
    2 packages Lawry's Chili Spices & Seasonings
    2 (14.5 ounce) cans Red Gold diced tomatoes "Chili Ready"
    2 (14.5 ounce) cans Red Gold stewed tomatoes
    1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
    1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed & drained
    1 (15 ounce) can light red or dark red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
    1 TBL Badia Complete Seasoning
    1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
    salt & pepper, to taste

    Directions
    1. Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat.  Add a couple turns of extra virgin olive oil to the pan.  Season the ground turkey breast with the Badia Complete Seasoning, salt & pepper.  Brown the ground turkey breast in the saute pan.
    2. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add a couple turns of extra virgin olive oil to the pot.  Saute Vidalia onion, green bell pepper and garlic over medium heat until the vegetables are soft.
    3. Once the ground turkey breast is browned and the vegetables are soft add the cooked ground turkey breast to the vegetables along with the 2 packages of Lawry's Chili Spices and Seasonings.  Stir to coat the meat mixture.
    4. Add the Red Gold diced tomatoes, Red Gold stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, black beans, kidney beans and cilantro to the pot.  Stir to combine.
    5. Simmer for as long as you like and enjoy.
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    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    Lasagna with Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce

    Skinny Girl

    I subscribe to a ton of cooking magazines...in Kyle's opinion..."way to many."  Between you and me...I think he's right.  I mean I have stacks and stacks of them.  On top of the paid subscriptions occasionally free subscriptions appear in my mailbox.  Sometimes the free ones are actually the best ones.  I have pulled several recipes out of those free magazines and they have actually turned out pretty good. 

    A couple months back an Issue of Eating Well arrived.  I started flipping through the pages and got to likin what I saw.  Low and behold a lasagna recipe popped out at me.  I just LOVE a good lasagna but I have yet to perfect it.  This particular one sounded pretty dang good.  Not to mention...healthy too!  Bonus!

    After reading through the recipe I knew it was going to take some time...I mean you have to roast the tomatoes in the oven for about 2 hours.  But according to the recipe...

    Slow-roasting the tomatoes gives the tomato sauce for this lasagna recipe an intense depth of flavor which is then enhanced by the unami in onions, Parmesan and spinach.  The lasagna noodles are layered into the lasagna uncooked; the moisture from the fresh spinach cooks them perfectly as the lasagna bakes in the oven.

    I got time...well on Sundays I have time.  And I just love cooking on Sundays...those are the days where I can really dive in and spend time picking out the ingredients, prepping and cooking.  Not to mention how wonderful a good home cooked meal tastes on a Sunday.  I don't know...it like help gets you ready for the week ahead.  Bingo!  Found my recipe to cook for Sunday Funday!

    Now I did make a couple of tweaks to this recipe.  Remember...Kyle is a picky eater...disliking all vegetables...I mean really disliking them.  He'll eat broccoli (on occasion) with cheese on top of it but that's about it.  One thing that does Kyle loves is mushrooms.  I know...a picky eater who loves mushrooms?  You don't come across those often do you?  I thought this recipe would be the perfect opportunity for me to add one of his favorite ingredients.  So I decided to go for it and add those mushrooms!

    I have to admit that I was a little nervous because this recipe called for spinach.  Kyle would definitely not go for spinach...even if I poured on a cheese sauce.  But I didn't want to leave it out because spinach is sooo good for you and it was an integral part of the recipe.  I thought since it was hidden in the layers of the lasagna Kyle wouldn't see it.  And of course I wouldn't say a darn thing about the spinach when we sat down for supper.  Although when we sat down he did say, "what's this green stuff?"

    Now...the most fabulous thing about this recipe?  I didn't have to do any tweaking to make it Skinny Girl style...it was already done!  Love it!

    Bear with me here...for the first time since I started my blog I took photos throughout the cooking process.  I do hope that you enjoy them.  I am not saying that I'm a photographer...they are definitely amateur photos but I assure you that this is no amateur lasagna.  It's the perfect dish to make when entertaining, for your special someone of even for yourself.  The roasted tomatoes really makes this lasagna sexy.  A flavor that you can't get out of a jar or in 30 minutes.  This lasagna is most definitely worth the wait!  To quote Kyle, "It had a taste of Italy only without the fat."

    Please forgive me...I forgot to take a photo of the tomatoes going into the oven.  I'll do better next time.  So here's a photo of my dog, Grouper.  Hope he makes you smile (photo below).



















    So we are going to start with sauteing the onions (photo below).
     














    Our onions are cooking.  Low and slow.  Really develop that flavor and that color (photo below).


    We've added our garlic, mushrooms, basil and oregano (photo below).
     














    Adding our oven roasted tomatoes...not only do they make the house smell delicious but they add such wonderful color to the pot.  Jealous of my pink spoon (photo below)?
     















    I'm not going to waste you time with the photos of all the different layers.  Here's the lasagna before the foil.  She's ready for the oven (photo below).















    Voila!  She turned out perfect (photo below)!















    Serves:  10
    Ingredients
    Sauce
    3 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
    2 teaspoons dried basil, divided
    1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
    1 medium onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
    1 cup water
    1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    Lasagna
    1 (15 to 16 ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
    1 1/2 cups reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    9 lasagna noodles (uncooked), whole-wheat
    10 ounces baby spinach

    Directions
    1. To prepare sauce:  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
    2. Combine tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon basil and 1 teaspoon oregano in a large bowl.  Arrange the seasoned tomato halves, cut-side up, on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake in the center of the oven until the tomatoes are very soft, 2 hours.  Let cool 15 minutes.  Transfer the tomatoes to a work surface and coarsely chop.
    3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-low heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute for about 10 minutes.  Add mushrooms, the remaining 1 teaspoon basil and 1/4 teaspoon oregano; cook, stirring occasionally about 15 to 18 minutes.  Increase the heat to medium-high and add the roasted tomatoes, water and tomato paste, stirring until the tomato paste is incorporated.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and pepper.
    4. To prepare lasagna:  Meanwhile, combine ricotta, 3/4 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup Parmesan, salt, oregano and pepper in a bowl.
    5. Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Coast a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
    6. Spread 2 cups of the tomato sauce in the prepared baking dish.  Top with 3 lasagna noodles.  Top the noodles with half the spinach.  Dollop half of the ricotta mixture over the spinach, then spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce over the ricotta.  Repeat the layers once more, pressing down on the filling as you layer; the pan will be very full.  Place the remaining 3 noodles on top and spread with the remaining tomato sauce.  Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan.  Cover with foil that has been coated with cooking spray.
    7. Bake the lasagna for 50 minutes.  Uncover and bake until the cheese browns slightly, about 10 minutes more.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
    Nutritional Information
    Calories:  275
    Fat:  11 grams
    Carbohydrates:  29 grams
    Protein:  17 grams
    Fiber:  6 grams
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