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Chicken Piccata – oh so good and light!

This was absolutely delicious! Browsing through my new Cooking Light magazine, I found this recipe for Chicken Piccata.  I love the flavor of lemons and the saltiness that the capers bring to this recipe.  The lemon flavored orzo is just right.  One error I made is that I thought that draining the orzo on wax paper rather than a cookie sheet would be easier – it is not.  Just use the cookie sheet. I also did not have a shallot on hand so I just added extra garlic.  The best part is that this recipe is light and lower in calories, so I do not feel guilty taking a small extra helping. 

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked whole-wheat orzo  (I used regular)
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour 4 (4-oz.) chicken breast cutlets
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
8 thin lemon slices, seeds removed
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions

Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Spread orzo on a baking sheet; cool 10 minutes. Place orzo in a bowl; add 1 tablespoon juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring to combine.

Place flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Place chicken on a platter (do not wipe out pan).

Add shallot and garlic to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons juice and lemon slices, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to low; add capers and butter, stirring until butter melts. Spoon lemon mixture over chicken. Serve with orzo.

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Corned Beef and Cabbage

March is just around the corner and for all you foodies that means green beer, Irish fries, Corned Beef and Cabbage to celebrate St. Patrick’s day.  Corned Beef to me is a unique dish to make and serve.  I remember a dinner club that was scheduled just around St. Pat’s Day where the hostess decided to cook a corned beef for the first time and was unsure when to say the meat was done.  I got a call saying ” I have been cooking this for quite awhile and the meat is still red”.  
For years we have been cooking our corned beef in the crock pot with a recipe that came from the cook book that was included with the pot.  It was simple and used an orange peel for some additional flavor.  My mom had given me a corned beef she had purchased but thought it was too big for he.  She told me when I made it save her some.  In looking for a new way to cook the beef, I found this recipe online that included the potatoes and onions right from the start and then added the cabbage and carrots at the end. 
 Hubby was coming home from an overnight business trip. He called on his way home and I told him our dinner plans.  He advised me that he would stop for the cabbage and was surprised to learn that I already taken care of it.  When I got home from work that night, he was home as well.  I checked on the meat and found a cutting board and paring knife close by.  Hubby was sure I hadn’t included the potatoes to my recipe and after adding two small potatoes  he realized that I had already done so.  I told him that the recipe was right next to the crockpot  and he could of read it to see that I was well prepared. 

This recipe turned out great and Mom enjoyed her cooked corned beef.  I think I will be making this again soon.  

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 (4 lb.) corned beef brisket with seasoning packet, rinsed, trimmed
2 whole cloves
1 small onion
24 baby carrots
1 small white cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
Arrange potatoes and garlic on bottom of slow cooker. Place corned beef on top of vegetables and sprinkle with seasoning from packet. Push cloves into onion and add to cooker. Add enough water to just cover meat; cover and cook on low until tender, 6 hours and 30 minutes to 8 hours.
Transfer meat to cutting board and cover with foil to keep warm. Transfer potatoes to bowl and cover with foil to keep warm. Add carrots and cabbage to cooker, turn to high, cover and cook until just tender, about 30 minutes.
Slice beef across grain and serve with potatoes, carrots and cabbage.
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A Classic Returns- Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake

Sometimes you need to revisit a classic recipe. I had a craving for a moist cake that was both easy to make and would also take care of my need for something with a lemon twist. This recipe originally came from Cooking Light so I felt a little less guilty eating this.  I originally made this for our son’s christening party 16 years ago.  It has been repeated a couple of times since then, but not in the recent past.  This cake is great on its own or with some sliced berries on top.  A very simple dessert when you need one.
 

Ingredients

 

Cooking spray
3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter or stick margarine, softened
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon rind (about 2 lemons)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
1 (8-ounce) carton low-fat sour cream
1 cup powdered sugar
 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 10-inch tube pan with cooking spray, and dust with the breadcrumbs.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; stir well with a whisk.

Beat the butter in a large bowl at medium speed of a mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and lemon extract, beating until well-blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add grated lemon rind and 2 tablespoons lemon juice; beat 30 seconds. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sour cream, beating at low speed, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Combine 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and powdered sugar. Drizzle glaze over top of cake.

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Pork Tenderloin with Capers and Olives on the light side!

I’m back.  Things were pretty busy around here over the holidays. I had every intention to blog more and highlight the holidays at our house but it didn’t work out that way. Maybe next year I can carve out a time to highlight the best part of cooking for the holidays at our house.  So new year, new cooking ideas and adventures to come.  Here is the first blog of 2016!
 
 It seems that everyone is jumping in on the New Years resolution to eat healthier and exercise more.  And from my husbands observation from his visits to the gym, resolutions only last so long. The first few weeks is a frenzy of activities.  Stores are selling new exercise wear, the end caps at grocery stores carry the multi-packs weight loss products but by the end of January, it becomes forgotten until it is time to push bathing suits. 
 
I think that we have been on the eating healthier kick for quite some time.  Sure we can make some great sweets and over indulge on savory treats, but we always come back to making sure we are eating right.  This is evident when you look through my binder of recipes and find a ton of recipes from Cooking Light dating back 15 years or so. This one is not so old, but was set aside to give a try. I never got around to it until a couple of weeks ago. I made it one night over the Christmas holidays when I was on vacation.  The end result was the proclamation from our dietitian in training that “It’s a keeper”!  Even pleased our son because of the olives and pasta we served along side.   I think it is time to pull out more of those older recipes, especially the lighter ones.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pork Tenderloin with Olives and Capers

Ingredients

 

1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives

2 tablespoons capers

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
 
Cut pork crosswise into 8 pieces. Place each pork piece between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle both sides of the pork with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Dredge pork in flour, turning to coat; shake off the excess flour. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of pork, and cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove pork mixture from pan, and keep warm. Repeat procedure with the remaining oil and pork. Return pork to pan. Add wine and broth; bring to a boil. Stir in olives and capers; cook 4 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.

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Saturday Dinner Decisions

 

Bow Tie Pasta with Red Pepper Cream Sauce

 
 
Running some errands on a recent Saturday morning after my Pilates class I realized that we had not decided on our dinner plans that morning.  We went out the night before to our favorite Italian restaurant for pizza and salad and knew that we wanted to stay home that Saturday Night.  Hubby was off picking up our son from a sleep over and running his pre Thanksgiving errands as well.  I called his cell and said ” We will go with my plan for dinner”.  This is a running joke in the house,  when one of us comes home and dinner wasn’t decided that morning, you will hear  – “I think we will go with your plans for dinner!”
 
I stopped at the local Italian grocery store Vince’s for two things that morning.  The first was the ingredients for some cookies I was making and the second was to browse their prepared food case to see what would taste good.  I had already pulled out the recipe for the pasta and had all the ingredients to make this,  but needed something to go along with it.  I always remember when our little Giada from across the street made Braciole for one of our first dinner clubs.  We still talk about it to this day.  Well, Vince’s had some and the perfect size for the three of us.  Just needed the sauce to cover it and with this recipe I had plenty!
 
The Braciole was delicious, but the pasta dish was the biggest hit!  Especially with our son, the pasta eating machine!

Ingredients 

1 pound uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil  
1/2 cup finely chopped onion 
1 (12-ounce) bottle roasted red bell peppers, drained and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar 
1 cup half-and-half  
1 tablespoon tomato paste    

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
Thinly sliced fresh basil (optional)

Preparation

Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add bell peppers; cook 2 minutes or until heated through. Increase heat to medium-high. Stir in vinegar; cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates. Remove from heat; cool 5 minutes.
Place bell pepper mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Return bell pepper mixture to pan; cook over low heat until warm. Combine half-and-half and tomato paste in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir tomato mixture into bell pepper mixture, stirring with a whisk until well combined. Stir in ground red pepper.
Combine pasta and bell pepper mixture in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup cheese, tossing to coat. Spoon 1 1/3 cups pasta into each of 6 bowls; top each with about 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese. Garnish with basil, if desired