While thumbing through a magazine in a waiting room, my attention was grabbed by a food presentation I had never seen before. I didn’t know what the dish was, but I knew I wanted it. The caption informed me it was “the latest crazy on Instagram” i.e. Avocado Toast. Apparently, I wasn’t hanging out in the right corners of IG and was being deprived of this amazing discovery.
I slipped the magazine back in the rack when my name was called, forgetting to make a note of what issue it was. The delectable memory was called to mind recently when I spotted some lovely avocados in the grocery store. After returning home, I searched the internet in vain for the image I had seen in the nameless publication. I finally gave up and decided to just try creating my own version. The results were aesthetically pleasing and satisfyingly delicious.
Avocado Toast My Way
- 1 slice, multi-grain bread
- 1/2 avocado
- a handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
- fresh basil, chopped, to taste
- fresh garlic chives, chopped, to taste
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper, to taste
Lightly spray a small frying pan with EVOO. Heat to medium. Add the prepared tomatoes, chopped herbs and fresh ground pepper to pan. Stir and cook until slightly soft. Meanwhile, toast the bread. Mash half the avocado onto the toast. Spread the cooked tomatoes mixture over the avocado. Return the frying pan to the stove top. Fry the egg to your liking. Transfer to the plate and top with fresh ground pepper, salt and additional herbs if desired.
While we love macaroni and cheese, we do not love the carbs. When I ran across George Stella’s recipe for Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese Casserole, I knew I had to try it, even though I’m not a huge cauliflower fan. It’s actually even better than it sounds!
As usual, I tweaked it a bit to suit my cooking habits and our tastes. Since I don’t use garlic in any of my Mac & Cheese recipes, I skipped it here too. We both felt the consistency was more comparable to potatoes than pasta. I have a feeling if you used the garlic, the comparison would be even closer to an au gratin potato type dish than macaroni and cheese.
I served it with ham steaks, steamed sugar snap peas and pinot grigio. We are both hooked and I can see a lot of it in our future!
1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 cup heavy or light cream
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
8 oz. shredded 2% extra sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray an 8x8inch baking dish or similar sized casserole dish with vegetable oil spray.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the cauliflower in the boiling water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well in a colander while preparing the sauce.
Warm the cream in a small saucepan, and stir in the cream cheese and mustard until smooth. Stir in approximately 6 ounces of the shredded cheese, salt and pepper and stir until the cheese melts, about 1 to 2 minutes. Meanwhile, transfer the cauliflower to the baking dish. Remove the sauce from the heat, pour over the cauliflower, and stir to combine. Top with the remaining cheese and bake until browned and bubbly hot, about 20 minutes.
Salmon is one of my favorite types of fish. I especially like it marinated and then grilled, broiled or baked so the edges get crispy. This tangy mustard, vinegar, sesame based marinade is a favorite. I usually serve it over a non-seasoned rice medley with roasted asparagus or roasted green beans on the side, if I am baking the salmon anyway.
Tangy Salmon Fillets
1-2 lbs salmon fillets
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon EVOO
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
3 green onions or chives, sliced
Combine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, oil, mustard, and ginger in a microwave-safe measuring cup. Warm slightly, 15-20 seconds, to help the honey dissolve and blend with the other ingredients. Stir well.
Place the fillets in a Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over them. Seal and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, turning over at least once.
Drain and discard marinade.
Bake on a foil-lined baking pan at 450°F for 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and onions or chives.
Broil: Place under a preheated broiler for 8-10 minute. Turn over and continue broiling for 5-10 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork. You will need to keep an eye on it as it may start smoking if too close to the broiler element. If your fillets have skin, broil the skin side first. It will bubble and crisp up with makes separating it from the meat a lot easier.
Grill: Grill covered, over medium high heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
If you want to roast asparagus or green beans at the same time, place trimmed and washed ones on another foil-lined pan. Mist with EVOO and stir lightly to coat. Add fresh ground pepper and salt to the green beans or just salt to the asparagus. Bake at 450°F for about 12-15 minutes or until tender.
PLEASE NOTE: I have a convection oven which enables me to bake both pans at the same time with even results. If you don’t, you will probably need to switch and rotate pans halfway through.
Butternut squash used to be one of those pieces of produce that I shied away from in the grocery store. I mean, it just isn’t super intuitive as to how cook the darn thing! Then a friend from South Africa served us this amazing combination of roasted butternut squash, apples and onions. I was hooked! Some recipes call for added herbs or spices, like thyme or cinnamon, but we prefer it plain and simple. I recommend trying it this way, and then adding additional flavoring as suit your taste.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 2 granny smith apples, peeled. cored and sliced
- 1 sweet vedalia onion, peeled and sliced
Place all ingredients on a foil-lined baking pan. Spray with extra virgin olive oil, stirring to coat. Roast at 425°F for about 30-40 minutes, stirring twice, until squash is soft.
It can be served as a meal in and of itself, or as a side dish for baked fish or chicken. I usually just add the fish on another foil-lined pan to the oven approximately 10-12 minutes before the squash is done, depending on thickness. It’s a super easy, healthy meal and cleanup requires just throwing the foil away!
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
As an added bonus, you can make the leftovers into soup. Just place enough chicken broth to cover the ingredients in a pan and heat until warm. Use a submersion blender to puree until almost smooth. If you prefer a creamier soup, add a few tablespoons of milk or cream. Garnish with ground cinnamon, nutmeg or a few springs of herbs.
Fresh, flavorful, uncomplicated and healthy. What’s not to love??
It’s always nice to find a new recipe that is different than anything else I make. To find one that we love which is also so easy to prepare is a huge bonus. The combination of fresh tomatoes, flavorful herbs and tangy balsamic vinegar over juicy chicken topped with a combination of Italian cheese is superb. Pair it with freshly baked ciabatta bread and an oaked Ox-Eye Vineyards Pinot Noir and it defies description.
1 lb. thin-cut boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup EVOO
2 Tbls. balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 Tbls. Italian herb seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 pint diced cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
Place chicken breasts in a large resealable plastic freezer bag. Combine the EVOO, balsamic vinegar, garlic, Italian herb seasoning, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Pour HALF of the marinade over the chicken, reseal bag, and in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours. (Overnight is fine.)
Preheat your grill to medium high or about 350 degrees F. Combine remaining marinade with diced tomatoes; set aside. Transfer chicken from marinade onto grill surface and discard marinade. Grill chicken for 3-4 minutes per side or until cooked through. (It is also okay to fry them in a pan over medium heat.) Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Spoon bruschetta mixture over chicken and top with basil; serve immediately.
The Ciabatta Bread is mixed in a bread machine on the Dough Cycle and then baked in the oven. I honestly could make a meal out of just it dipped in a high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil seasoned with real grated Parmesan cheese and some fresh ground pepper. The dough is very sticky. Don’t give into the temptation to add more flour. Treat it gingerly to keep from bursting all the lovely air bubbles that form. It makes two loaves. If you don’t need both immediately, double bag one and stick it in the freezer. Thaw it at room temperature for several hours. It was pretty darn close to fresh baked.
Found this on Rachael Ray’s website. I made a few tweaks. She called for cod pieces, but I used flounder fillets. I also used African blue basil from my herb garden instead of traditional basil, and I cut back on the olive oil.
Fish with Eggplant, Tomatoes & Basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper
1 eggplant (1 lb.), trimmed and cut into 12 round slices (about 1/2 inch thick)
1 pound flounder fillets
1/3 cup shredded fresh basil
Preheat the broiler. In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp. EVOO over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes; using a slotted spoon, transfer to a small bowl. Add the halved tomatoes to the pan; season with salt and pepper. Cook, undisturbed, until tender on one side, about 5 minutes. Stir and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with foil; place the eggplant slices on the baking sheet in a single layer. Mist the eggplant on both sides with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Broil, turning once, until tender and browned, about 8 minutes.
Spoon the tomatoes on top of the eggplant and cover with the fish. Broil until the fish is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Using a wide spatula, transfer to plates. Top with the basil and garlic.
Monday evening is usually “fish night” at our house. This is a holdover from when we weighed in at Weight Watchers on Tuesdays. Yes, eating a light meal Monday night really did make a difference!
For years, the only kind of fish dish I knew how to prepare was fish sticks. Trust me, that is not considered light or healthy when you are trying to lose weight! We’ve discovered a few favorites, but this recipe definitely tops the list. I have prepared it with tilapia, hake, flounder and cod. Basically, any mild white fish. I usually serve it over Parmesan couscous.
Pan-Fried Fish with White Wine and Capers
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (15 oz.) can tomatoes (use fresh when in season)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp capers, drained
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 to 1.5 pound uncooked tilapia fillets
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 spray cooking spray
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp light butter
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 medium lemon, cut in wedges (optional)
Combine first 6 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk; set aside.
Sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper. Dredge fillets lightly in flour, and coat both sides of fillets with cooking spray.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fillets; cook 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; turn fillets, and cook 3 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove from pan.
Add wine mixture to pan; cook 30 seconds up to a few minutes, depending on how much you like your tomatoes cooked in a sauce, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat; stir in butter until melted. Spoon wine mixture over fillets; sprinkle with parsley. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
Yield: 4 servings
Soup is true comfort food. Finding one that is flavorful and yet super easy to make it even more comforting. One of the reasons I really like this recipe is because it is also so healthy. You mash some of the beans to make the thick broth rather than adding flour, corn starch or cream.
Healthy, easy and delicious?? Comforting indeed!
Ham and Bean Soup
3 (15 oz) cans great northern beans (rinsed & drained)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups water
1 (15 oz) can carrots, undrained
8-12 oz cooked ham, cubed or diced
1⁄4 teaspoon white pepper
Rinse and drain beans. Mash approximately one can of beans in a slow cooker or large soup pot.
Place chopped onion in water and microwave until tender. (Or you can saute the onion in a bit of oil.) Add the water and cooked onions to the mashed beans and stir gently to combine. Add the remaining beans and rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Adding more water if necessary to cover all the ingredients. Heat on low 4-6 hours in a slow cooker or heat thoroughly on the stove.
We love cornbread, but a lot of recipes are either too dry or too high in fat for my liking. I played around with one of our favorite recipes to try and come up with a balance between the two. My family likes this version better than the full-fat one!
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup light butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups low-fat milk
Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix just until moistened. Batter will be lumpy.
Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking pan.
Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until light golden brown on top. Serve warm or cool.