December 29, 2013

Lemon Almond Asparagus

Asparagus swimming in lemon butter... butter!... enough said!!!

Makes 8 Servings

Stars of the Show:
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
And Action:

Melt butter; stir in lemon juice. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add asparagus in batches; cook 2-4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and place on a serving plate. Drizzle with butter mixture; top with almonds. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Calories: 78
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 11 mg
Sodium: 36 mg
Carbohydrates: 4 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 2 g

December 28, 2013

Winter Caprese Salad

I came across this recipe for a Winter Caprese Salad while menu planning for our Christmas dinner. Not sure what makes this wintery but any recipe with grape tomatoes has my name all over it and I don't try to over analyze it. Being Italian, this was a great way to add a touch of home to our traditional ham dinner and for a flavor punched side dish... Wintery would be roasted tomatoes... ;)

I prepared this with the intent of serving it as a side dish but ended up forgetting about it in the refrigerator. Partly to blame was that this can be conveniently made ahead. Thankfully, while preparing this all I could think about was how delicious this would be tossed with pasta. This will make for an easy week night meal coming up.

Makes 4 Servings

Stars of the Show:
  • 1 (8 oz) container fresh mozzarella perlini (pearl sized balls)
  • 1 container grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup pesto - Original recipe calls for 1/2 cup but I think that was too much.
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
And Action:

Mix all ingredients together. Let the flavors meld for an hour at room temperature before serving. Serve on its own, topped on a bed of mixed greens, or tossed with pasta. 

December 27, 2013

Spiced Nuts

Talk about taking raw nuts to another level. Sweet, spicy, and slightly salty. This is a party-worthy snack. I prepared these spiced nuts for my family on Christmas to enjoy before the meal was ready. You can use just one type of nut or a mix like I did. The aroma of these baking in the oven will fill your house and scream the holiday is here!

These spiced nuts would make for a perfect gift idea after you pack them into decorative tins.

Spiced Nuts
Makes 8 oz

Stars of the Show:
  • 8 oz raw nuts - I used peanuts, hazelnuts, and cashews.
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
And Action:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the nuts in a bowl and add the egg white. Toss to coat the nuts evenly. 

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Scrape the nuts onto the baking sheet and spread in a single layer. Bake, stirring often to break up any clumps, until the nuts are lightly toasted, 15 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a plate and spread them in a single layer to allow them cool. Personally, I prefer them warm from the oven. Enjoy!

December 26, 2013

Herb Roasted Potatoes

Herb Roasted Potatoes are the perfect side dish for just about any meal. They're filling and flavorful. The seasonings can be altered to suit your tastes by swapping the rosemary with thyme or sage. I served these herb roasted potatoes as an accompaniment to our Christmas dinner of honey glazed ham and lemon almond asparagus (recipe to come). You should definitely give these a try tonight just make sure you give yourself about an hour total.

Makes 4 Servings

Stars of the Show:
  • 3/4 lb fingerling potatoes, quartered
  • 2 tbsp rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
And Action:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Pour mixture onto baking sheet in a single layer and place in the oven.

Cook the potatoes until they are tender, about 45 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and enjoy!

December 02, 2013

Healthy Low Carb and Low Fat Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Little Man spent his Thanksgiving break from school with his Dad and Grandma. I spent Thanksgiving at Smith & Wollensky's, a fine dining steakhouse, with a bottle of wine and their pre-fixe menu... Butternut squash soup, herb crusted rolls, turkey, stuffing, gravy!!, roasted brussels sprouts and root veggies, and au gratin potatoes, ending the meal with pumpkin pie and cinnamon whipped cream. Not only did I overeat there I took home leftovers and heated them up for breakfast the next morning and overate again. 

Before Little Man left for vacation we made a plan to celebrate our Thanksgiving on Sunday when I'd get him back. As usual, I made a plan for the menu... a cheese platter, spinach and artichoke dip, spinach salad, beef stew, turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and green bean casserole... I was over ambitious. Thankfully I know better than telling Little Man what we're having to avoid overpromising and under delivering. We had the cheese platter (cashews, brie, colby jack cheese cubes, applewood smoked salame, and crackers), spinach and artichoke dip with tortilla chips, turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, and rolls. It was delicious, we overate, and there are leftovers so we can do it again tomorrow.

If you are looking for a warm healthy appetizer for an upcoming Christmas party or Game Day then look no further. This dip is low carb and low fat. Using cauliflower instead of cream cheese or a fat-laden alternative reduces the fat grams drastically. While my version turned out chunky yours will be smooth and creamy with help from your food processor. I was too lazy to pull out the food processor with a mound of dishes already in the sink and figured I could mash the shit out of the ingredients to get them smooth enough... WRONG! If you go the route I took be sure to have thick chips sturdy enough for dipping. Either way, it'll be a crowd pleaser. 

Makes 4 Servings

Stars of the Show:
  • 2 cups steamed cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup artichokes, chopped - I used the precooked packaged artichoke hearts found in the produce section. Could use frozen (make sure to thaw them). 
  • 1/4 cup fresh spinach, packed and chopped
And Action:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Process the cauliflower, parmesan cheese, sea salt, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, mustard, and olive oil until smooth and creamy.

Pulse in the chopped artichokes and spinach.

Pour the mixture into a small baking dish.

Lightly sprinkle parmesan cheese on top for a golden crust. 

Bake for 10 minutes until heated through. Serve with tortilla or pita chips...veggies if you really want to be good and enjoy!

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Calories: 59 
Fat: 3 g 
Saturated fat: 1.2 g 
Unsaturated fat: 1.8 g 
Trans fat: 0 g 
Carbohydrates: 5.3 g 
Sugar: 1.5 g 
Sodium: 304 mg 
Fiber: 2.4 g 
Protein: 4.2 g
Cholesterol: 5 mg

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