Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Eggplant Parmesan (Made Over)

At the local farmer's market this past weekend we picked up a couple of small eggplants, determined to try it. Never having purchased, prepared or even tasted it before, I was pretty excited about it. After watching countless youtube videos on prep, and reading loads of recipes I came up with my own and it was a huge hit with the whole family. We'll definitely be having this again, and often.

INGREDIENTS:

2 small eggplants
salt
1 1/2 c. whole wheat panko
1 1/4 c. grated low-fat grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
3/4 c. flour
2 eggs
1 ball low-fat or light mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 jar low sodium pasta sauce (I used PC Blue Menu Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce)

METHOD:

Rinse the eggplants and cut off the stem ends and discard. Slice the rest of the eggplant about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Place on a wire rack on a baking sheet and salt each slice, then turn over and salt the other side. Let sit for 2 hours. After the time is up, rinse well then give each piece an extra squeeze.

BAKED EGGPLANT ROUNDS 
Pre-heat your oven to 425. Rinse and dry your baking sheet and line with parchment paper and give it a good spray of cooking spray. Set aside. Set up your breading station by setting bowls of flour, 2 eggs slightly whisked, and panko and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese - in that order. Dip each round of eggplant into the flour, dredge through the egg, then press into the panko on both sides to fully coat.  Place on the baking sheet and repeat with all the rounds. Spray the top of each round with another spritz of cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes, turning over half way.  When done, remove and let cool 15 minutes or so, until they're cool enough to handle. Reduce oven temp to 350.

In a 9x13 baking dish, place about 1/2 cup pasta sauce to cover the bottom then layer eggplant rounds, mozzarella rounds and sprinkle with half the Parmesan.  Cover each round with a spoonful of pasta sauce and repeat for the second layer.  Bake for 35 minutes and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

This is definitely a time-intensive recipe, but if you have the time, it's definitely worth trying for a delicious, low-fat, low sodium family dinner.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened...

on the way to the kitchen today.

It started with looking for expert advice on eggplant (how to choose and cook) and then got sidetracked with a fabulous *sounding* recipe for roasted Brussels Sprouts, and was completely blown out of the water by a recipe for Avocado Double Chocolate Brownies. Wait. What?

After hubby suffered his heart attack 8 weeks ago, we've been determined to eat clean, eat healthy and incorporate foods into our regular diet that we've just neglected over the years either because we thought we didn't like them, or just because we really had no interest in them. After a trip to the local farmer's market this weekend and picking up some eggplant and brussels sprouts, we were determined to find tried and true recipes for both. I'm pretty sure I've hit the Mother Lode with Dani Spies site cleananddelicious.com

While we're no experts by any stretch of the imagination, we're not completely ignorant either, when it comes to clean and healthy eating since we jumped on that bandwagon a few years ago - and both lost a ton of weight between us. There is much truth to the saying "great abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym". We just did what a lot of folks do - started out great, and then fell off the wagon for a million reasons.

Well, now we're back on the wagon for life (for much different reasons), and this is one fantastic site for sure.   Tonight's dinner was Eggplant Parmesan (Made Over!),  Roasted Brussels Sprouts and dessert was the ridiculously delish Avocado Double Chocolate Brownies.

I forgot to snap a pic of the finished Eggplant Parm but here's the eggplant before it was smothered in low-sodium pasta sauce and sliced "light"  mozza.  The eggplant looked so good and smelled so good, covered in whole wheat panko and shredded parm. I wondered why I was even considering smothering it in sauce and cheese and covering up the crispy goodness.  While it did turn out quite wonderful, the next time I make it I am most certainly serving the eggplant on it's own, with a dipping sauce. Probably with an olive oil/garlic/parm tossed pasta on the side. (Just a side note, the eggplant parm recipe didn't come from the Clean and Delicious site - I created it myself after watching loads of videos on how to prepare eggplant and reading loads of recipes).

For the Brussels Sprouts, follow this recipe exactly.  Literally, do that. I forgot to snap a pic of mine, but they actually looked identical to the pic in this recipe. And they tasted ridiculously wonderful. Hubby and I both called them "veggie candy". Yes, they were that good. Everyone at the table loved them, including the teenage boy who avoids vegetables like the plague.

Lastly, this was dessert. I wasn't even looking for a dessert but it sort of jumped off the page and latched onto my face like Alien. You know? Right? Stuff happens.

The recipe for this fantastic looking and tasting dish is here, and you need to make it today. You really do. Especially if you have avocados sitting around that needed to be used *yesterday* like I did. I bought them a few days ago but we've been doing some Italian cuisine so they just didn't blend in well. This was a really good use for them.

I'll be posting my Eggplant Parmesan (Made Over!) recipe soon, so be on the lookout for that.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Roasted Veggie Soup

Today's kitchen challenge was a recipe I came across that just looked rather boring and bland, so I decided to kick things up a bit. I'm sure glad I did! I had some beets that needed attention right away and because almost no one in my family besides me likes beets, I needed a way to incorporate them without anyone going "eww, beets?". It almost worked. The literal PINK soup gave it away but the taste was a hit with everyone, and that made me very happy.

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium sized baking potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
2 c. diced, peeled beets (about 6 medium sized beets)
2 carrots sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 medium sized onion, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic
4 T. olive oil
2 t. Mrs. Dash Original Blend
1/4 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. NoSalt
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 c. no salt added or reduced sodium chicken stock
2 c. half & half cream

Prepare all your veggies (except the celery) and set aside in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl wish together oil and all the seasonings. Pour over veggie mixture and toss to make sure all veggies are coated evenly. Pour veggies onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400 for 1 hour. Turn after 30 minutes for even roasting.

Place the chicken stock and celery in a large pot and once the veggies are done in the oven, toss them in and bring to a quick boil over medium high heat. Reduce to low and simmer for 45 minutes to one hour, until veggies are very tender. You can mash with a potato masher, or blend in a blender or use an immersion blender (I find my immersion blender works best) to chop the veggies into a rich, creamy texture.  Add the half and half and whisk well to heat through.

Serve topped with whole wheat seasoned croutons and a green salad.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Deep Fried Zucchini Made Over

Another family favorite - fried zucchini. Only in this version, it's 100% guilt (and fat) free and no sacrifice in taste or crunch. But you have to be careful to follow the directions closely to make sure you don't miss out on the crunchy deep fried goodness of baked zucchini (yes, it can be done!)  We really like to have these as a side to spaghetti or any other Italian dish.

Ingredients:

1 med-large zucchini

1 1/2 c. whole wheat panko
1 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. salt (or NoSalt)
1 t. minced onion
1/2 t. coarse ground pepper
1/2 t. basil
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1 egg

Pre-heat oven to 450. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray generously with cooking spray.

Slice your zucchini into 1/4 inch slices. Be sure to keep them thin - this makes all the difference in how well they'll crisp up. Lay the slices in a single layer on paper towel and sprinkle some salt on them - then cover with more paper towel.  This helps draw out some of the moisture and also helps in how they'll bake up nice and crisp.  While you're "sweating" your zucchini, mix your spices with the panko, then whisk up an egg in a separate, small bowl.

Dry off your zucchini then dip slices one at a time in the egg, then into the panko mixture, pressing down each slice to evenly coat. Transfer to the cookie sheet in a single layer. Once all slices are done, give them a generous spray of cooking oil and bake for 30 minutes, turning once after 15 minutes.  Serve hot with cucumber dill sipping sauce (Kraft salad dressing) or your favorite dip.

Spicy Italian (It's Really Not) Sausage

Doctor's orders: "eliminate sausage". 
Wife's response: "challenge accepted!"

Here's a great alternative that you can easily make ahead, freeze and use in a wide variety of dishes, from pizza toppings, meatballs, spaghetti sauce and anything else you'd want to use hot Italian sausage for.

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1/4 c. red wine
1 T. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 T. garlic powder
1/2 t. oregano
1 t. pepper
1 t. smoked paprika
1 t. fennel seed
1/4 t. anise seed
1/4 t. parsley flakes
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/4 t. minced onion
1/8 t. coriander seed

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly so all seasonings are well blended into the meat. Use immediately (brown the same way you'd brown ground beef for any recipe)  or shape into meatballs or thin patties to freeze.

1 batch goes a long way. Tonight I used half for 2 medium Italian sausage pizzas and the other half went into a spaghetti sauce for another night.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Oven Baked Red Onion Rings

In my ongoing effort to makeover some of our family favorite foods into heart healthy versions, my latest project was the much loved, deep fried, crispy onion ring.  There are those who say you can't beat the taste of a deep fried onion ring but I think I may have come up with a serious contender.  I'm an onion ring fanatic and my favorite are from A&W and these taste almost like theirs. Without the fat and junk, so there's an added bonus.

OVEN BAKED RED ONION RINGS

Pre-heat oven to 450. Grease a large cookie sheet with olive oil spray.

Ingredients:

1 medium sized red onion, sliced into rings
2 c. whole wheat panko
1/2 c. all purpose flour
2 egg whites
2 T. *milk
1/2 t. each: *salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and basil
1/4 t. cayenne pepper

Place onion rings in a large ziploc and toss with the 1/2 cup flour, and salt and pepper. Set aside.

Whisk egg whites and milk, then in a separate bowl mix together the panko and seasonings. One onion ring at a time, dip into the egg mixture then into the panko mixture until well coated. Place onto cookie sheet and when the cookie sheet is full, give the onion rings another spray of cooking oil.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Makes roughly 20-24 onion rings.

(We use NoSalt and Oat milk, any type of milk will work for this).

Friday, October 6, 2017

I Swear, It's Totally NOT Sausage

One of my family's favorite sides at the holidays since (literally, the beginning of time?) forever, is my southern cornbread sausage stuffing. I've always made it, and always made it exactly the same way.

However, after hubby's heart attack we've done a huge 180 on the way we've been cooking/eating. If you make a sausage stuffing (or if you just love breakfast sausage) have I got a phenomenal new recipe for you that you're going to LOVE. This is a great replacement for the sausage in your stuffing and your family will never notice a difference. Or, mostly likely never notice a difference. I utterly adore pork breakfast sausage and I had this today and could literally not tell the difference.

Without delay, here it is:

Totally Not Sausage Breakfast Sausage

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1/2 t. No-salt
1/2 t. dried parsley
1/4 t. ground sage
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. dried thyme
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 t. ground coriander seed

Place ground turkey and all the spices in a bowl and blend well. Use 1/4 cup to measure for sausage patties for breakfast sandwiches. Use in place of crumbled, browned sausage in gravies (biscuits and whole wheat gravy? Hello!)  or in any recipe that calls for pork breakfast sausage.