Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tortilla Soup

Why do I ALWAYS forget to put this recipe in here? I must have called my Dad 3 times over the last several years (when I haven't made it for a while) to remind me. And it's only the easiest thing in the world, and totally tweakable based on your tastes and preferences.

Dad's Tortilla Soup
1 14 oz can whole tomatoes (if you like really spicy you can use the Herdez brand with tomatoes and peppers together, but I'd skip the jalapeno if you do this - no really)
1 jalapeno (determine your spicy level here carefully, you can't take it back)
48 oz chicken broth
1 large onion
handful of cilantro leaves
corn tortillas
shredded cheese

Decide how spicy you want this in advance - I have made it so spicy that it was almost unpleasant to eat (damn Herdez), and so bland it would be good for an ulcer patient. The spice from jalapenos comes from the white ribs and the seeds, so get rid of them if you're white. Ha, just kidding. :o)

Anyway, put the chook broth into a large pot and heat over med-hi. In the meantime, cut the onion into big chunks, and put it in the food processor with the jalapeno and tomatoes. Buzz them all together until they're pureed. You can also put the cilantro in for this step, but I like my pieces a bit larger, so I chop it by hand and add it to the pot directly.
Bring to a boil, then cover and turn down heat to a simmer. Simmer for 2o minutes.

While the soup is simmering, you can make the tortillas (or just use chips if you're lazy, but HONESTLY). My Dad fries them in a pan with oil, but I'm Little Miss Healthy, so I usually bake mine. I slice them into 1/2 - 3/4" strips to start, then spray a cookie sheet with Pam, lay the strips down and then spray them with Pam again. Into a 350 oven for I dunno, however long until they're crispy but not scorched (which is a fine line, believe me). Keep checking on them - maybe around 10 minutes? You can use flour tortillas here as well, but I feel like they get soggy and break down much faster, plus I love corn tortillas.

Once everything is done, put some of the tortillas in the bottom of a bowl and top with cheese. Ladle the soup on top and die in heaven.

Also amazing with additions: chicken, avocado, corn. . .
I wish this is what I was having for dinner now, yum.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

The good news: I love buffalo wings.
The bad news: I know how they're made.
The good news: It's easy to translate the flavors into a salad (even a vegetarian one).

It really is as simple as making a salad with romaine or iceberg lettuce, celery, cucumbers, green onions and tomatoes. I toss the salad with either lowfat ranch or a blue cheese, sometimes with blue cheese crumbles on top; depends on how healthy I'm trying to be.

The chicken is also just as easy - all you need is some chicken (I love to grab a roaster chicken on the way home for this, or use leftover chicken) and some Frank's hot sauce - I've tried lots of different hot sauces, and Frank's is my fave. It's a great blend of vinegar and spice and just all around yum. Today, I went veg and used Morningstar Farms buffalo chicken tenders (which I also tossed in Frank's after cooking and cutting up into smaller pieces).

They go down right on top of the tossed salad and it's lunch time.
(can we also mention that I love that my iPhone takes decent photos or I would never post any here? kthx)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Heirloom Tomatoes

How could I forget these little beauties? A little balsamic & olive oil, pepper and kosher salt. The color on this photo does not do them justice - they were gorgeous little tie dyed slices of amazing.

Skirt steak with chimichurri & parmesan crusted zucchini

In order to use up the skirt steak McD got the other night, I decided a nice fresh chimichurri was in order. Not really knowing what I was doing, but remembering the fantastically amazing sauce my Dad makes, but not finding it, I went with this version as my inspiration.

The skirt steak was probably a pound and a half or so. I covered it in "Mexican" seasoning from my cabinet and let it sit while I made everything else.

2 cloves of garlic
a big old handful of cilantro
a big old handful of parsley
a tsp or so of cumin
a tsp or so of chili powder
juice from one lemon
a couple of glugs of red wine vinegar (2-3 tsps I'd guess)
olive oil

I put the garlic and leafy fellas in the food processor and pulverized as much as my dull old blade would allow (I think I might be using the food processor my parents got when they were married, like for reals, this thing is OLD). Then I added the spices and liquid stuffs and blended again. I put it into a bowl and added "enough" olive oil to make it paste-y.
Then, I let this sit while I cooked the steak on my grill pan to medium rare (in my case this was probably 8 minutes on each side, but I think it's usually closer to 6 if you're using a real grill).

Ooh! But before I put the steak on, I got the zucchini ready. Turned oven up to 425, cut 3 zukes in half lengthwise, covered with olive oil, garlic powder, a tiny bit of salt, some pepper, and a hearty amount of grated Parmesan cheese. Easy peasy. Into the oven they went while I cooked the steak.

I let the steak sit for 10 minutes or so before cutting it (the zukes were still in the oven, so what's that like, 20 minutes already? So I just turned the heat off and left them in to stay warm). I sliced it into half inch thick slices and plated it, then topped it with the chimichurri sauce. Ta da! And South Beach Phase 1 appropriate.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rosemary Gin Fizz

That's a boring name. I want to come up with something better. Summertime Sipper? Yuk.
Thank goodness for stuff like this. Troubled Fairy? Perhaps. Oh, I recommend ignoring the actual drink recipes over there - I saw one that, no joke, called for 1 oz of cake batter.
Dropkick? I like that. And because it's easy to forget there is alcohol in them, it might be what they do to you.
Rosemary Fizz? Yeah, I guess. Anyone have a better suggestion for me?
Woodland Nymph? Forest Sprite? Now that stupid Troubled Fairy suggestion is blocking me from anything non whimsy related, and the rosemary is making me think earthy, green things which makes me think trees and woods and. . .

In any case, it's eerily similar to the Lavender Lemon Fizz, but a little more masculine. And while the Lavender Lemon Fizz is also good with gin, I don't think I'd like this one as much with vodka instead of gin.

I made this one small, and might need to play with the amounts a bit to get a solid recipe for making in large batches, but this worked for our little 4 oz glasses quite nicely.

juice from one lime
1/2 tbsp rosemary syrup
1 shot gin (I used Tanqueray, but will probably go with Hendrick's next)
soda water
rosemary sprigs for garnish

Fill your rocks glass with ice. Add the juice from one lime, rosemary syrup, gin; top with soda and stir to mix. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lavender Lemon Fizz

Okay okay, I shouldn't brag about it before I can share it, I know. Here was all the impetus I needed.
Here is the magic.

1 cup Splenda
1 cup water
6 sprigs of lavender (just the flowery bits, not the long green stem part)

Et, voila! Lavender simple syrup. I did the same thing with 2 LARGE sprigs of rosemary and now I have two simple syrups for cocktail deliciousness (the rosemary will go into something with gin I think. . . )

I juiced six lemons and ended up with just under a cup of juice. The breakdown for my "taster" follows; once I liked it (first try even!), I just made a larger batch using the same measurements. You might have to tweak the larger batch depending on varying sweetness of your lemons, and lavenderiness of your syrup.

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp lavender syrup
1 shot citrus vodka (I used Absolut)
lemon fuzzy water
lemon slices & lavender for garnish

Larger batch:
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lavender syrup
1 1/2 cups vodka

You might add more juice to your liking, but the fuzzy water can definitely help control the alcoholic-ness of the drink.
Garnish with a thin lemon wheel or a twist and a sprig of lavender. Girly - oh yeah. Try making it with gin for your man and leaving the lavender garnish off. (I'm thinking I might shake it with egg whites too before adding the fuzzy water so it gets a nice creamy layer on top.)

I combined the measured ingredients and "topped it off" with the fuzzy water so I have no idea how much I used. Trial and error people.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Grilled pork chops

Every once in a while I select a side dish before a main course. This was the case the last time I went grocery shopping. I saw some gorgeous asparagus and started craving my dad's awesome shallot & lemon asparagus. Then I saw some nice Niman Ranch pork chops and knew what had to be done. So, as per usual, I decided to let someone do all the hard work for me.
This recipe is crazy simple and I have everything on hand. Score! I only have two chops though, so I'm going to halve the marinade.

Grilled Lemon Herb Pork Chops
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
I'm also adding 1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary since I have it
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 (4 ounce) boneless pork loin chops

In a large resealable bag, combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, oregano, and pepper. Set aside 1/4 cup of marinade for basting later. Place chops in bag, seal, and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Turn bag frequently to distribute marinade.

Preheat an outdoor grill or a grill pan to high heat. Remove chops from bag, and
lightly oil the grill grate. Grill pork chops for 5 to 7 minutes per side, basting frequently with reserved marinade, until done.

I prepared this with my favorite asparagus side dish (with shallots and lemon juice) and omg, heaven.

Citrus Shrimp Salad

I have a bunch of citrus fruit and lettuce in the house, and I saw some gorgeous big ol' shrimp at the store, and it's 80 degrees outside (woo!) so I am in the mood for something light, fresh, and summery. Cue citrus shrimp salad.

One orange - zested and juiced
One lime - zested and juiced
One lemon - zested and juiced
1/2 grapefruit's worth of supremed segments
1/2 of an avocado - cubed or thinly sliced
1-2 garlic cloves - minced or pressed
1 green onion, thinly sliced
lettuce - either butter or romaine
6 shrimp because that's how many I have - cleaned
orange muscat vinegar from TJ's because it's in the cabinet and will go wonderfully, though you can use red wine vinegar, or more citrus juice for the acid in the dressing
olive oil
salt & pepper

Combine the juices and zests with a glug of olive oil (1-2 tablespoons worth). This is enough marinade for many more than just 6 shrimp, so by all means, add more if you're cooking for more than just yourself. If it looks like way too much juice at this point, you can set some aside to use as the acid in your dressing and forgo the vinegar. Add the garlic and a little salt and pepper and stir to mix. Add the shrimp and allow to marinate at room temperature for 10-15 minutes while you prep the rest of the salad and heat a grill or grill pan.
Clean and cut/tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces. Slice the avocado & green onion, supreme the grapefruit, and add to the lettuce.
Make the vinaigrette.
Grill the shrimp over medium - probably about 3 minutes on each side until pink and cooked through. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette, reserving a couple of tablespoons. Top the salad with the shrimp and drizzle with the reserved dressing.

Melon and feta salad

After the tequila soaked watermelon at a recent party and DC's yummy "compressed watermelon" with acacia honey and Filipino sea salt the other night, I've been reconsidering my aversion to watermelon. I don't hate watermelon or anything, it just doesn't really get me going. But, when it's paired with salt and vinegary goodness (or booze), I find I like it much better. This weekend I had a similar salad with cantaloupe and cucumber instead of watermelon and it was just as good - fresh, light, and fantastic.
Now I'm envisioning a beautiful salad of honeydew, watermelon & cantaloupe with thinly sliced red onions, feta or cotija cheese, and either mint or basil with some sort of light vinaigrette. I'm going to do it as a built salad, not a tossed one - I don't like how it looks when the cheese starts breaking down; I like it sprinkled over the top.
I don't even know how to write a recipe for this, I just know what it needs to look and taste like. Give it a shot yourself if you're reading this (anyone?).

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lemony goodness cocktails

Giada is killing me this morning.
Blueberry limoncello cooler? Get outta here!

1 (750-ml) bottle limoncello liqueur, chilled
1 cup sparkling water, chilled
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries *see Cook's Note
5 fresh mint sprigs, lightly crushed, plus extra for garnish
Crushed ice

In a pitcher, combine the limoncello, sparkling water, blueberries, and mint sprigs.

Fill highball glasses halfway with crushed ice. Pour about 1/2 cup of the limoncello mixture over the ice in each glass.

Garnish with mint sprigs and serve.

*Cook's Note: If using frozen blueberries, add them to the pitcher just before serving.

This also reminds me of my strong desire to make a lavender simple syrup so that I can make a lavender lemonade cocktail. Maybe I'll give it a whirl with rosemary today; both with regular sugar, and Splenda. OMG you guys, a sugar free sweetened summer cocktail for us South Beachers? Hell. Yes.
I'm envisioning a shot of citrus vodka, maybe, a tablespoon of herb flavored simple syrup (I'll have to taste it), juice of one lemon, and some soda. Top it with a spring of whatever herb I've used and a lemon slice. Is it wrong to want this before breakfast?

Friday, July 10, 2009


Yowza - I wonder if this recipe works as well for other flavors? Because if so, omg, get ready for ice cream people because South Beach doesn't really allow for it, but I think I'd have a blast making it which means I won't really be able to eat it and will need to give it away. I can make vanilla, and strawberry (and then Neapolitan!) and peppermint and banana and banana/caramel/chocolate and salted caramel and lavender and EVERYTHING I HAVE EVER WANTED. Even if it's just the chocolate, think about the swirls I could add of marshmallow fluff or chocolate chips or fudge or nuts or minty things or raspberries. . . .
I still really want to try a rose water and pistachio ice cream to be enjoyed after a nice Moroccan feast - does that sound weird? Well I'm not the only one, okay? I mean, I must have tried those flavors together somewhere. Turkish Delight maybe?
Hello summer!!

Easy Chocolate Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart

If you plan to store the ice cream for more than a few days, place plastic wrap directly on its surface before freezing.

1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder
1 tablespoon hot water
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, cold

1. MELT CHOCOLATE BASE Combine coffee (or espresso) powder and hot water in small bowl. Let stand until coffee dissolves, about 5 minutes. Microwave chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, and coffee mixture in bowl, stirring every 10 seconds, until chocolate is melted, about 1 minute. Stir in vanilla and salt. Let cool.

2. MIX AND FREEZE With electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip cream to soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Whisk one-third of whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Fold remaining whipped cream into chocolate mixture until incorporated. Freeze in airtight container until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 2 weeks. Serve.
And look, we can even pair wine with our ice cream! Hell to the yeah!
Feel like you want to show me up with WINE ICE CREAM? Well, it's too late for that because I already know.
Thanks The Kitchn! Their blog on this (linked above) is very helpful in Americanizing the dastardly British original.

Almost Instant Sweet Wine Ice Cream
150ml sweet white wine , such as Orange Muscat and Flora
3 rounded tbsp caster sugar
284ml carton double cream
summer fruits to serve, such as blackberries , raspberries and redcurrants
  1. Tip the wine and sugar into a bowl and whisk together. Gradually whisk in the cream until it starts to thicken and just hold its shape.
  2. Pour into a rigid container and freeze until firm, about 3-4 hours. Serve in scoops with seasonal summer fruits splashed with a little more sweet wine.

461 kcalories (!!!!), protein 1g, carbohydrate 23g, fat 38 g (!!!!), saturated fat 21g (!!!!!), fibre 0g, salt 0.05 g

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blueberry Banana Muffins

Something you should know about me: I love blueberries. Like, an insane amount.
BUT! Sometimes blueberries themselves kind of suck. I suppose it's seasonal and berry specific. Sometimes I prefer the smell and taste of blueberry "flavor" whatever that is. And the color. I definitely like the color.
Right now though? Blueberries are freaking awesome and you'd be a fool not to take advantage. I think I see another farmer's market and a few punnets of blueberries in my very near future. Keep an eye out on my desk at work for baked goods. Even Sprinkles tried to get in on the action with lemon blueberry cupcakes. And this is the second recipe they've clearly stolen from my blog which is full of recipes I steal from all over, but that is entirely beside the point.

I'm not the only one in blueberry mode it seems; SELF Magazine just sent me this scrummy sounding little tidbit:

Makes 6 muffins (ie, you might want to triple the recipe)

Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 large egg
2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
2 tablespoons lowfat buttermilk
1/2 cup oat bran
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (about 3 medium)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or brown sugar substitute - keep in mind that the substitute requires half the amount as regular, so this would be 1 tbsp of substitute)
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen, unsweetened * note to reader; frozen? Now? Be serious. Do NOT use frozen fruit right now. If you're reading this in December though, please feel free.*
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional) *note to self; get a zester! *

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a standard muffin pan with cooking spray. Whisk egg, sour cream and buttermilk in a bowl. Mix oat bran, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a second bowl. Combine banana and sugar in a third bowl. Stir in buttermilk mixture. Sprinkle in flour mixture and stir gently. Fold in blueberries and zest, if desired. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full with batter. Bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes.

Plus? Get a load of THIS (this is with regular sugar, with substitute it'll be even lower)!!

130 calories per muffin
1.8 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
29 g carbs
3.8 g fiber
4.4 g protein

Thank me later. I think I might make these tonight. They're like, way SB friendly.

** Delicious Update:
OMG SO GOOD. I doubled the recipe and ended up with 20 muffins, not 12 as one might expect from the whole "makes 6" nonsense.
Also, I used the silicone cups for my first twelve, and paper for the rest. The muffins do stick to the paper quite a bit, so you might want to use foil or just spray your muffin pan.

** Soggy Update:
Eat them within a day or two of baking - they spew moisture out into their container (plastic bag, tupperware, whatever) and get a bit soggy, and actually, a little bitter somehow. Weird. So yes, eat them quickly.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Squash Blossom Soiree

Last night Quinn and I co-hosted a seasonal dinner featuring all things squash. We invited an insanely attractive group of people (I'm attracted to all of you, I promise; now you can't complain if I try to dry hump you later) who brought yummy things to drink - wines and bubbles and Lambics and yum. They even helped with dishes the little dears. All in all, it was a blast, I just wish Quinn and I weren't stuck in the kitchen for so much of the evening. Next dinner is going to be MUCH simpler.

Fried Squash Blossoms
Check out what the genius mind behind Nermo has to say about his various dipping sauces. We used two fillings, the one in Giada's recipe and this one:
½ c. ricotta cheese
2 tblsp. fresh basil, chopped
5 to 6 sun-dried tomato halves, packed in oil, chopped
2 tblsp. parmigiano reggiano, grated
¼ tsp. coarse salt
½ tsp. pepper
Curried Zucchini Soup
Carbonara Primavera
Zucchini French Toast
Tomcat Collins - created and mixed by Quinn

Quinn made the most amazing fried squash blossoms. For someone who has never even tried them, let alone made them, they were easily the best I've ever had. His dipping sauces were out of control, though I think the tomato was my fave. I think we could've called it quits after the blossoms, but I had too cook too ya know!
Everything else went over well, but the blossoms were the easy winner. I think the tian came in second for me - it was just so yummy. The Tomcat Collins was fresh and fizzy and a nice clean complement to the rice flavors. Champagne also went perfectly with the blossoms.
No food photos, we were too busy eating. :o( Just photos of "tablescapes" and flowers and the little to-go bags of minimuffiny goodness.

Zucchini Bread French Toast

Take your zucchini bread and slice it thinly - 1/4" or so.
Mix up a standard french toast batter - for 12 thin slices of zuke bread, I used 3 eggs, 1/4 c ff half and half and a tsp of vanilla. You can add cinnamon as well if you like.
Quickly dunk the slices of zuke bread into the batter, coating both sides, and cook over med-hi in your "attempt at healthy" butter flavored spray/Pam, or butter if all pretenses of health are out the window.
Keep warm in the oven until all slices are cooked.

Serve with your preference - maple syrup, vanilla cream, or what we used - Mitchell's Black Walnut ice cream. Yum.

Zucchini & Sausage Carbonara

Another recipe you may not want to quote me on since I was inspired by a couple of recipes when making it. I'd say I was inspired by Emeril's use of sausage, but more closely followed Jamie's.

Zucchini & Sausage Carbonara
2 Johnsonville sweet Italian sausages, removed from casings
1/4 lb ground turkey (I had it on hand and threw it in, but you could easily just use another sausage link)
2 green zucchini
2 yellow squash
(I also used one variegated green/yellow squash, but you can just use one more of a green or yellow)
1 pound of freshly made whole wheat fettuccine from the farmer's market (or dry, whole wheat penne)
4 large egg yolks
1/2 c cream (I filled my measuring cup half to 2/3 of the way with cream, and then filled it the rest of the way with ff half and half)
2 good handfuls freshly grated Parm (I had shredded, so that's what I used)
1 tsp of thyme (smoosh it up in your hand or between your fingers before adding)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.
Halve and then quarter any larger zucchini lengthwise. Cut out and discard any fluffy middle bits, and slice the zucchini at an angle into pieces roughly the same size and shape as the penne. Smaller zucchini can simply be sliced finely. Your water will now be boiling, so add the penne to the pan and cook according to the package instructions. If you're using fresh pasta - hold off on this until the sausage and zukes are cooked since it will cook up so quickly.

Add a couple of tsp of olive oil to a pan and heat over med-hi. Add meat and cook until no longer pink, breaking it up into small crumbles as you go. Depending on how big your pan is, maybe you can get the zucchini in too, but I took the meat out, leaving all of it's meaty goodness behind in the pan, and cooked the zukes up with some salt, pepper, and the thyme so they dry fried a little, getting nice and brown in some spots, but soft and cooked through overall.

To make the carbonara sauce, put the egg yolks into a bowl, add the cream and half the Parmesan, and mix together with a fork. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.

It's very important to get this next bit right or your carbonara could end up ruined. You need to work quickly. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving a little of the cooking water. Immediately, toss the pasta in the pan with the zucchini & sausage, then remove from the heat and add a ladleful of the reserved cooking water and your creamy sauce. Stir together quickly. (No more cooking now, otherwise you'll scramble the eggs.)

Add more of the cooking water if needed to get a nice shiny sauce and top with the rest of the parm. I tore up some squash blossoms on top as garnish as well. Serve immediately!

Curried Zucchini Soup

Another South Beach hit - great for summer as it's fresh and delicious, but good for fall too since it's warm and cozy. This was the second course for the squash blossom dinner, and while I really should've thought about how I was going to serve it in advance, it worked out okay.

Curried Zucchini Soup
2 tsp Extra Virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 medium zukes, sliced into 1/4" half moons
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garam masala (which I did not have so I used a dash of Allspice + cumin + chili powder; other folks have actual substitution recipes if you'd prefer)
3 cups veggie broth (low sodium)
1/2 c plain fat free yogurt

3 tbsp lowfat/ff sour cream mixed with 1 tbsp ff half and half to thin it out (or creme fraiche if you prefer)
Ginger - using a garlic press, smoosh up your ginger to taste and mix in - I probably used a 1 inch piece of ginger, but I think a little more would've been good

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 min. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add zucchini, ginger, curry powder, and garam masala. Cook 3 more min.

Add broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer until vegetable are tender, about 10 min. Puree soup until smooth. Whisk in yogurt just before serving.

Garnish soup with ginger creme fraiche, either a nice little dollop on top, or a swirl if you're feeling fabulous.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Vegetable Tian

This tastes so amazingly sweet and rich and is a great way to showcase summer produce, though you can easily make it in the fall with fall squash (once everything cooks down, any mealiness in out of season tomatoes will vaporize too). You can also use other veggies, like eggplant and potato. I would've taken a photo of its glory for you, but I forgot it in the oven and dessicated the hell out of the top of it. Luckily, the bottom was still juicy and amazing, so I just stirred it up and served it between courses. DAMN. So much for eating with your eyes first - it looked like ratatouille when I served it, despite all the time I made perfectly spiraling my veggies. I knew I should've taken a photo before I baked it. Luckily, I have a couple of shots of some tians I made with Kelsie Kerr.
This side with a nice piece of fish makes such a yummy and healthy meal it's not even funny.

Vegetable Tian
2 yellow squash, 1/4" slice
2 small variegated green/yellow squash, 1/4" slice or zucchini
2 heirloom tomatoes, 1/4" slice - because my tomatoes were large, I also halved or quartered the slices so they were closer in size to the squash and zukes
1 large red onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 large basil leaves
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 c (or less) olive oil
1/4 c lowfat shredded Italian cheese or Parm (optional)

Put 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan and heat over med-hi. Add onions and sautee over med until soft and translucent. Add garlic and sautee another minute or so.
Spread this mixture in the bottom of a baking dish (I used a shallow tart dish).
Starting in the center, arrange the tomatoes and zucchini (is it okay if I say "artfully?") in a spiral, keeping them in tight, until the dish is filled. You might have a couple of small pieces of zucchini left, and you can add them to the center or use them for something else.
Chiffonade the basil and chop the rosemary and sprinkle over the top. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil over and add salt and pepper.
Cover with foil and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 40 minutes. If using, add the cheese and put back into oven for a few minutes until melted. I did not use the cheese and it was still amazing!

** update: Made this again with my new mandolin and it is still freaking amazing - even when you cook it like you're supposed to.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Filet Mignon with Balsamic Syrup and Goat Cheese

Man I love coming over to my dad and stepmother's house for dinner. Not only do I get fed a kick ass dinner (tonight was grilled chicken with roasted nectarines and buerre blanc), but I even go home with new delicious recipes to try. How on God's green earth I ever missed this one I don't even know. This can easily be made SB by subbing out Splenda for the sugar, and hell, maybe this is another one where you can skip it altogether (cooking balsamic down tends to make it really sweet); you can also use lowfat goat cheese, though it's such a small amount that it wouldn't be the end of the world if you used regular. Unless you use the amount I typically use. Then it's bad no matter what.

Filet Mignon with Balsamic Syrup and Goat Cheese
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
6 (5 to 6-ounce) filet mignon steaks (each about 1-inch thick)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese

Boil the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper. Cook the steaks to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to a baking sheet. Crumble the cheese over the steaks and broil just until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with pepper.

Transfer the steaks to plates. Drizzle the balsamic sauce around the steaks and serve.

Pan-Roasted Steak and Onions

When I first moved out on my own, I had my dad and stepmother over for dinner. I didn't have a dining table mind you, but I was determined to make a delicious dinner for the folks that had been feeding me since I was 13. I had recently gotten my stepmother onto South Beach and wanted to make something that was delicious, but also appropriate for her. This dish got rave reviews from her and my finicky (anti-"diet") father. They make it all the time, and I couldn't for the life of me remember where I had found the recipe. Well, four years later, that's not happening again.

Pan-Roasted Steak and Onions
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound flank steak
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fat-free chicken broth
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch thick rings

  1. In a large non-aluminum baking dish, combine the oil, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and garlic. Add the steak; turn to coat. Cover; refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight, turning once.
  2. Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Place over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the steak with the pepper and salt. Brown for 2 minutes per side. Add 1/2 cup of the broth; cook, turning once, for 5 to 6 minutes per side (for medium-rare). Remove the steak from the skillet; cover the steak loosely to keep it warm. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion slices to the skillet and cook until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Add the remaining broth as needed to prevent the onions from sticking.
  3. Thinly slice the steak across the grain; serve with the onions.
  • This recipe is optimal for Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the South Beach Diet.
  • Copyright© 2003 Waterfront Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
Yeah, and so now I'm realizing that I have this recipe in two separate posts. Um, it's really good, that's why.