Brussels Sprouts with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

I wish I had taken better pictures tonight because this was so tasty and satisfying.  When Brussels are caramelized and covered in bacon, you wonder why they got a bad rap for so long.   These bad boys are super filling and low carb to boot.  Just give me a whole bowl for dinner – I don’t even need the chicken.

Brussels Sprouts with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

1 pound of Brussels sprouts, halved and trimmed

5 slices of nitrate-free bacon, sliced (I like to use the pre-cooked bacon from Trader Joe’s – see below)

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, minced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/3 cup chicken broth

Trim and halve Brussels and set aside.  Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add bacon.  Cook until the bacon starts to brown and render.  Add shallots and cook until translucent.  Off heat, whisk in red wine vinegar and mustard.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.  Clean out the pan and add remaining two tablespoons of olive oil.  Over medium high heat, cook Brussels in the olive oil until browned and caramelized.   De-glaze the pan with the chicken broth and cover until Brussels are cooked through (about 5 minutes).  When the chicken broth has evaporated, add reserved bacon mixture and cook for an additional five to eight minutes.  Serve warm.  Enjoy!

Sunday Dinner in July

Last night’s meal was the perfect example of an easy, somewhat healthy, satisfying plan ahead dinner.   It was so good that the goons kept eating and drinking and eating, and I finally had to kick them out at 10:30pm.  It was a school night!

First, I made the Blueberry Buckle on Saturday afternoon.  It’s kind of like a lemony blueberry coffee cake.  Add a little extra salt and lemon zest to the recipe below.

Then we looted our garden and hit the farmer’s market to make a Mediterranean salad with lemon dill dressing.  Butter lettuce, tomatoes, cukes, peppers, red onion (sliced thin and rinsed under cold water), basil, chickpeas and feta.  The dressing is lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, dijon, fresh dill, salt & pepper.

Butter Rice is a great goon filler staple.  Rice, chicken stock, saffron, butter and lots of salt to taste.

Top it off with sweet corn on the cob.

And perfectly grilled flatiron steak marinated in olive oil, onion, oregano, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

Loosen the belt buckle for the Blueberry Buckle.

Link to Blueberry Buckle Recipe: http://linboblueberries.com/recipes/CIBlueberryBuckle.html

 

 

Spicy Slaw

Spicy Slaw

I always get asked for this recipe so it’s about time that I write it down.  This is (yet another) low cal favorite that packs in lots of veggies and lasts at least a week in the fridge.  I’ve been eating the leftovers all week tossed with chicken and avocado.  I love it with BBQ, grilled pork and burgers.


Spicy Slaw

4 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup low fat mayo
2 limes, juiced
2-3 teaspoons hot sauce (to taste)
1-2 teaspoons honey
1 bag of shredded cabbage
1/2 bag of broccoli slaw
3 carrots, shredded
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 jalapeños, finely chopped

Whisk together vinegar, lime juice, mayo, hot sauce and honey.  Adjust seasoning as needed.  It should be a nice balance of salty, sweet and tart with a little kick from the hot sauce.  Toss with remaining ingredients and chill it in the fridge for at least 3 hours.  It’s even better the next day.

Sneaky Tzatziki

This is one of my all time favorite recipes.  It’s super easy, healthy and I make a big batch to put on everything.  It’s particularly amazing with grilled chicken or lamb kebabs, or even as pita dip or salad dressing.  It’s sneaky because if you make it with 0% yogurt, no one knows it’s actually healthy.  I’ve also made it with dill, feta, parsley and cilantro for a different twist.

Tzatziki

2 cups 0% Greek yogurt
1-2 teaspoons spicy Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
1 large cucumber, seeded and roughly chopped
1-2 teaspoons honey (just enough to round out the yogurt)
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 bunch of mint
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Blend everything in the food processor, check for seasoning and enjoy.  That is it my friends.

Egg White Oatmeal

I’ve decided that I need to give more attention to my blog.  Life has gotten in the way of my food, and that is never a good thing.  So even if I don’t think my creations are interesting or exciting, I’m going to post em anyway.

In keeping with the goon theme, I understand that gym goons like to work egg whites into their meals any way that they can get them.  I have a trip to Vegas in two weeks, so I’m trying out new (not exciting) clean meals so that I won’t look like a sausage squeezed into my lame-o one piece.

This recipe is actually better than it sounds.  I’ve read that some people puree the mix and make it into pancakes.  You might think this is a little weird, but I promise that it keeps you full all morning so that you’re not tempted to eat treats at the office.  Try it!

 
Egg White Oatmeal for One

1/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup water
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of cinnamon

Mix oatmeal and water in a microwave safe bowl and nuke for one minute on high.  Mix in egg whites until well combined.  Nuke for one more minute.  Whisk in remaining ingredients and top with fruit, nuts and seeds.  I added a little unsweetened coconut, chia, almonds, banana and blueberries.

Almost No Bake Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake

Easiest dessert ever.  The inspiration came from the local Italian restaurant where the owner’s wife whips up something similar every week.  Love her, but she wouldn’t share the recipe with me so I had to come up with my own.  This is the perfect summer treat because you barely have to use the oven.  I was thinking how tasty it would be with Nutella and a hazelnut crust.  Or with lemon curd and a shortbread crust?  Salted caramel and chocolate cookie crust?

Almost No Bake Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake

For the crust –
3/4 of a bag of Nilla Wafers
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1 pinch of salt

For the filling –

2 8oz. containers of mascarpone cheese
1 cup of Kefir (you can use lowfat plain yogurt)
1 envelope of gelatin
1/2-3/4 cup water
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 pound dark chocolate, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Crush the cookies into fine crumbs, preferably with a food processor and pulse in the melted butter until well combined.  Press the mixture into a pie plate and bake for 10-15 minutes or until it’s golden brown.  Set aside to cool.

To make the filling, clean out the inside of the food processor, and add the mascarpone.  Whirl it for 30 seconds to fluff up the cheese.  Measure the Kefir and mix in the envelope of gelatin until well combined.  Add the Kefir, gelatin, sugar, and vanilla and whirl until well combined.  Add 1/2 cup of water and pulse until it becomes less stiff, add more as needed.  Add the melted and cooled chocolate and turn the food processor on for 1-2 minutes to whip some more air into the mixture.  Pour into the prepared crust, slap it in the fridge for 2-3 hours, and enjoy!

 

Goon Approved (somewhat) Healthy Sides

To the dismay of the goons, the lean and light eating continues.  On most days less dairy, less gluten, less sugar, less meat and more veggies seem to be the way to go.

Other than the non-goon-approved calorie free noodles, below are a few of my favorite sides on the healthy side.  They’re great for meals where you want to indulge a little without totally blowing your diet.

No calories, no carbs, guilt free cheese vehicle….

Light Mac-n-Cheese

1 package of no calorie noodles – drained (in the fridge section @ Whole Foods)

1 tablespoon light butter (or butter substitute)

1 tablespoon whole wheat flour (or spelt flour)

1 cup of warm skim milk (or dairy substitute)

1 cup of light cheese (parmesan and cheddar are my faves; does dairy free cheese actually melt?)

1 cup of thawed frozen peas

Drain the noodles and press out any remaining liquid.  Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat, whisk in flour and cook down until it’s a nutty brown color.  Add the milk and whisk to combine.  Bring to a simmer for 3-4 minutes until thick.  Off heat, add cheese, noodles, peas, salt and pepper to taste.

Mom’s Brussels Sprouts

1 large bag of Brussels, rinsed and cut in half lengthwise

3 slices of nitrate free bacon, chopped

1 tablespoon of light butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 shallot, minced

½-1 cup chicken stock

2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup

Sautee the bacon in the butter and olive oil until it starts to release its fat.  Add the Brussels, toss to coat, and brown on each side to caramelize.  Add the shallot and cook until softened.  Add the chicken stock and cover for 2-3 minutes over medium high heat to soften the Brussels.  Drizzle with maple syrup, add salt and pepper to taste.  Add a little more butter if you’re not watching your waistline.  Add to save calories, just brown the Brussels in some cooking spray and sprinkle with cooked crumbled turkey bacon.

They taste like candy.  So good you forget they’re good for you.

And now for more bacon…..

 Goon Approved Stuffed Potato Salad (with less fat/calories)
1 pound of small Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered into bite size pieces
1/4 cup light mayo
1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt (or more to taste)
5-6 scallions – chopped
5 slices of precooked, nitrate-free bacon – cooked and crumbled
Boil potatoes until they are fork tender.  Cool slightly and mix with the rest of the ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I like to eat this when it’s all warm and creamy, but it’s also great after spending some time in the fridge.  Perfect for summer grillin.

Post Goon-Out Brew

After a week filled with too many birthday celebrations, nights out on the town, and general goonery, I needed to consume something that would get me back on the health track.  I read an article last month about how to lose the last five pounds, and they recommended drinking this thermogenic blend of hot water, lemon, cayenne and parsley.  After whipping up a batch of this magical brew, I have to say that I felt de-puffed, hydrated and generally better about myself.  It’s actually not bad tasting.  Apparently, the key is to drink this before bed to torch calories while you sleep.  Could this be the stuff of my weight loss dreams?  I doubt it could possibly burn hot enough to offset my bad habits (namely pizza, fro-yo and vino), but it’s worth a shot!

Feel the burn

Post Goon-Out Brew

The juice of one organic lemon

A handful of organic parsley

1 pinch cayenne pepper

1 cup boiling water

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and steep for 10 minutes.  Strain and enjoy!

**Serves one over-served goonette**

Parmesan Crusted Chicken Cutlets

This might be the best weeknight chicken ever.

It’s fast and super flavorful. It’s like a combination between juicy pan seared chicken and naughty Greek Saganaki.  Mmmmm flaming cheese. This is going to be my new go-to summer dish because it cooks up in about 7-8 minutes and you do not have to use the oven.  Serve it with lemon wedges, a salad, and a glass of your favorite white wine.

Weeknight heaven!

PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN CUTLETS

2 large chicken breasts, trimmed and sliced horizontally
2 tablespoons of flour
2 egg whites, beaten
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
Olive oil

Pat chicken dry and season with S&P.  Sprinkle evenly with flour on both sides.  Whisk egg whites, water, mustard and hot sauce in one bowl.  In another bowl, mix parm and breadcrumbs.  Dredge each piece of seasoned chicken in the egg mixture and then into the parm mixture, pressing the cheese into a thick coating.  Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil on high for a few minutes, add chicken to the pan and turn the heat down to medium.  Cook three minutes, being careful not to burn the chicken.  Flip the chicken and continue cooking another 4-5 minutes or until cooked through.

Serves 4 Goonettes or 2 Goons.  If there are any leftovers cutlets, they’re great the next day on a sando with some crisp lettuce and a little mayo.

Spinach Pie (to slim the thighs)

All the juicing and the salads and the plant based dieting haven’t been effective in dropping a few LBs before my beach trip (which is less than two weeks away). This goonette needs results! A friend recently reminded me of a trick I did to lose a few pounds before my wedding. Spinach Pie is basically a crustless quiche that you can eat any time of day. It’s tasty, healthy, filling and low carb. Add a little ketchup or hot sauce to change it up if you’re eating it more than once a day. I’m going to try to down this for breakfast and lunch over the next week (as tolerated). If it doesn’t work, at least there are cover ups and shape-wear, right?

One piece closer to a two piece?

Spinach Pie

– 1/2 large bag frozen chopped spinach (thaw and squeeze out excess water)
– 1/2 onion, minced
– 6 whole eggs, 2 egg whites
– 1/3 cup low fat cottage cheese
– 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
– salt/pepper/hot sauce to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk all ingredients until combined. Spray a non stick pan with cooking spray. Add ingredients and bake 30-35 minutes or until center is cooked through. Cool, cut into squares and refrigerate.  Reheat it in the microwave for 30-40 seconds on high heat.  Yum!