Archive | May 2013

Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries

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I love dark chocolate and I love strawberries, so this is a match made in heaven for me.

A week or so ago, I was shopping for strawberries and our local supermarket had these super large strawberries for sale.  I couldn’t resist.   They were perfect for dipping into some nice, dark chocolate and would be a great dessert for our dinner party the next evening.

I washed the berries and let them dry thoroughly.

I took wooden skewers and broke them in half.  You may want to trim the rough edges off of the stick (I didn’t, but it would have looked nicer).  I then stuck the smooth end of the skewers in the leafy end of the berries and used them as holders to dip the berries.  I left the skewers in so that when I served the berries, it was like a popsicle.

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Hubby had given me Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bars for Mother’s Day.   Dark chocolate is my favorite, so it was a  no-brainer as to what chocolate I was going to use.

I broke one of the bars up into pieces, put it into a microwave safe bowl and nuked it on low power for 10-15 seconds at a time, stirring the hot chocolate each time to help melt it.  It may take a few times.  Stir it often and do not let it boil.  I recommend going to  this site for the different ways you can melt chocolate if you’ve never done it before.

When the chocolate was ready, I dipped the strawberries in the chocolate and then placed them in a dish lined with parchment paper.

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I stored the berries in the refrigerator (uncovered) until the next evening, when I served them for dessert.  Don’t let them sit out on the counter too long before serving or they will sweat.

I’ve received store bought chocolate covered strawberries as gifts a few times.  My strawberries weren’t as fancy, but they were just as good.

You can experiment by melting some white chocolate and then drizzling it on the dark chocolate to make a design.   Another idea would be to top the freshly dipped chocolate berries with some nuts, coconut or sprinkles.  If you use your imagination and the toppings you love, you can’t go wrong.

Chocolate-covered Strawberry

Chocolate-covered Strawberry (Photo credit: cobalt123)

Chocolate Covered Strawberry's in the Four Sea...

Chocolate Covered Strawberry’s in the Four Seasons Boston Presidential Suite (Photo credit: Andrew-Hyde)

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Walk, Walk, Walk…It’s Good Exercise

I’ve been posting more about food than I ever thought I would, and I am enjoying it.  Although I am not a gourmet cook, I enjoy doing it and when I find a good recipe, I like to share it.  That’s usually the way I feel about a lot of things.  With that in mind, I thought today I’d share one of the ways I like to exercise.

Believe me, I’m no fitness nut and I don’t go to the gym.  As a matter of fact, I don’t even belong to a gym.  I did that once upon a time, years ago.  Now I find ways to exercise at home.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I found exercise routines at Sparkpeople.com, which were a big help.

For almost 2 years now I’ve been doing walking exercises with Leslie Sansone videos.  She has many different videos, but they all basically contain the same moves and (sometimes) she incorporates weights or bands.  The focus is on walking and moving to get a mild cardio/aerobic workout, along with weight loss and body toning.

Here’s a video I just found on YouTube.  What’s great about that is, it’s FREE.  It is a good one for me because I try to do a 3 mile walk, 3 times a week.  This video is a 3 mile power walk.  The second mile is pretty fast, which I like.  She also uses light hand weights in some of the exercises, but you don’t need them to do the routine.  Don’t forget to watch the whole thing, because she does a cool-down stretch at the end.  During the video, they focus on some of the people in the background and how much weight they’ve lost. It’s pretty amazing.

I’ve found that working off some calories and keeping my body moving helps me feel strong.  It’s also helped me maintain the weight loss I accomplished last year, which is pretty difficult when I love to cook and EAT.

If you like this video and would like to see some of the other routines available, you can check out  this YouTube channel.  It has some Leslie Sansone walking videos and other easy exercise routine videos.  You can also search YouTube for Leslie Sansone videos and you’ll find them.  Make sure you check to see if the entire routine is included because some of the videos are advertisements that last only a minute or so.  If you aren’t sure health wise about this type of exercise for you, check with your doctor.

Anybody like to share their exercise routines with us?

Salmon with Ginger Glaze

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We enjoy salmon and this recipe is a favorite of ours.  It came from Prevention.com and I follow the directions exactly.  It’s simple and delicious.  A quick fix dinner that not only is great when you’re short on time, but also makes a beautiful presentation for dinner guests.  I’m always happy when I find a recipe that doesn’t tie me to the stove all night.

Salmon with Ginger Glaze

(Originally from Prevention.com)

Ingredients:

  • ¼ c packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh or 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 6-oz wild Pacific salmon fillets, about 1″ thick, skinned
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Coat rack of broiler pan with cooking spray. Preheat broiler.

2. In small bowl, whisk sugar, mustard, and ginger. Season both sides of fillets with salt and pepper. Place salmon on broiler rack and brush glaze on top. Broil (6″ from heat) 8 to 10 minutes or until fish is lightly browned and opaque.

3. Serve each fillet on top of a lightly dressed mixed green salad.

Makes 4 Servings

Per Serving (Without Salad): 340 cal, 31 g pro, 14 g carb, 17 g fat, 3.5 g sat fat, 90 mg chol, 0 g fiber, 485 mg sodium

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 8-10 minutes

I used fresh ginger and grated it with my Microplane.  What a handy tool that thing is.  I also line my broiler pan with aluminum foil and poke holes in it for draining.  It’s an easier clean up, but you don’t have to do it that way.  I would recommend coating the cooking surface with some cooking oil spray even if you use the foil.

Make sure you watch the salmon closely so you don’t overcook it, but let it cook long enough to get that golden, crusty top.

I served this dish with rice and a side salad.  Easy, quick and so delicious.

Blog New Collage Salmon

Banana Strawberry Oatmeal Smoothie

Quick Chiquita Banana Strawberry Oatmeal Smoothie

Banana Strawberry Oatmeal Smoothie

My friend, Tree, pinned this recipe to one of her Pinterest boards.  It sure looked good, so I decided to give it a try.  I should have made it for breakfast, but I made a single serving as my afternoon snack.  Very filling, I must say, but quite good.

This is the original recipe, then I’ll tell you what I changed:

Quick Chiquita Banana Oatmeal Smoothie Recipe – Recipe is for 2 servings

Almonds, cooked oatmeal, bananas and yogurt meet up in your blender for a power breakfast. Drink this Banana Oatmeal Smoothie before your morning exercise routine and you’ll have the energy you need to get through your workout.

Ingredients:

  • 2   whole Chiquita Bananas (best with brown flecks on peel)
  • 2   cups Ice
  • 1/3   cup Yogurt – preferably Greek yogurt flavored with honey
  • 1/2   cup Cooked oatmeal
  • 1/3   cup Almonds

Instructions For:

Pour all ingredients in blender pouring ice in last. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until smoothie thickens.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories 380; Total Fat 15 g (Sat 2 g, Trans 0 g, Poly 4 g, Mono 8 g); Cholesterol 5 mg; Sodium 35 mg; Potassium 690 mg; Total Carbohydrates 53 g; Dietary Fiber 9 g; Total Sugars 19 g; Protein 12 g. Percent Daily Value: Vitamin A 2%; Vitamin B6 25%; Vitamin C 20%; Vitamin D 0%; Calcium 15%, Iron 15%.

As you can see from the photo at the top of the post, my smoothie is pink.  I added 3 strawberries for a twist.

Idea:  If you have a banana that is getting a little too ripe, you can peel it, then wrap it in some plastic wrap and freeze it.  It can be used instead of ice when making a smoothie.

I started out using a fresh banana, but then remembered I had a banana in the freezer.  So, I left the ice and the fresh banana out, and used the frozen banana (I don’t know if it was a Chiquita banana).

At the website, I noticed  some people commented that they didn’t bother to cook the oatmeal.  It took a matter of 5 to 6 minutes to cook the oatmeal in the microwave, so I recommend taking the time to cook it.  If you have instant oatmeal, it will cook even faster.  You could probably cook the oatmeal the night before and keep it in the refrigerator for the morning.

Adjust the honey to your taste and, if you are so inclined, a dash of vanilla might be nice.  I used plain Greek yogurt.  I would imagine that if you don’t like almonds, you could substitute walnuts (or whatever you like).

This concoction is a bit thick, so it took a little while to get the blender going.  I had to stop the blender and stir it around a little before it took off and did it’s thing.

The recipe is definitely a filling drink and a nice breakfast treat.  I can see why they say it will get you through your exercise routine.  Next time, I’ll drink it before mine instead of in the middle of the afternoon.  One serving and I was full.

Let me know if you try it and if you gave it a twist of your own.

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Chicken in Lemon-Caper Sauce (Weight Watchers Recipe)

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Chicken Piccata is one of our favorites and a pretty easy dish to make.  I like to cut calories whenever possible.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that Weight Watchers has their own version of the recipe called, Chicken in Lemon-Caper Sauce.  You can find it in the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook.  I purchased this book last year when I was losing weight.

It’s surprising how delicious the sauce is and the best part, it’s a lower calorie version of a classic meal.  Enjoy.

Chicken in Lemon-Caper SauceWeight Watchers Recipe

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 (1/4 pound) thin-sliced chicken breast (boneless)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1.  Mix together flour and salt in pie plate.  Dip chicken in seasoned flour, shaking off excess.

2.  Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken, in batches, and cook until browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side, transfer to plate.  (Note:  The cooking time will depend on the thickness of your chicken.  Be sure it’s cooked through and nicely browned.)

3.  Add broth, lemon juice, and capers to skillet; bring to boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.  Return chicken to skillet and cook, turning to coat, until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Transfer chicken to platter.  Remove skillet from heat; add butter and parsley.  Pour over chicken.

According to Weight Watchers – Per Serving (1 piece chicken and 2 tablespoons sauce):  127 grams, 170 Cal, 6 g Total Fat, 2 g Sat Fat, 0 g Trans Fat, 65 mg Chol, 488 mg Sod, 4 g Total Carb, 1 g Total Sugar, 0 g Fib, 24 g Prot, 17 mg Calc.  PointsPlus Value:  4

I served it with jasmine rice and a side salad.  Delicious.

Blog Picatta collage

Lemon Pasta with Chicken and Roasted Pears & Apples Salad

Easy Lemon Pasta with Chicken

Easy Lemon Pasta with Chicken (recipe by The Neelys)

This recipe sounded wonderful to me.  Lemon, chicken, pasta…how could I go wrong.  I found the recipe about a month ago on the Food Network website.  It’s courtesy of The Neelys.

I had some lemon pepper pasta, so I substituted it for the penne.  I also adjusted the recipe for 2 servings.

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Easy Lemon Pasta with Chicken

by The Neelys – This is the original recipe and it serves 3-5 people.

Ingredients

1 pound dried penne

2 chicken cutlets, cut into fingers

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

2 lemons, juiced

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Directions

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, until al dente. Drain well.

Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat a large grill pan over medium high and add chicken. Grill until golden and completely cooked. Remove to a plate and slice.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to a saute pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute until fragrant.

Add the cooked pasta and turn heat off.

Mix all together. Remove pasta to a large bowl.

Add chicken to the warm pasta and season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle in chopped parsley.

Add the juice of 2 lemons and mix.

Before serving, top with Parmesan

Since this recipe is called “Lemon Pasta”, I decided to use Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta that I bought at Trader Joes.  It has a wonderful, lemon-peppery taste that went great with this dish. Blog 3 I used one boneless chicken breast and seasoned it with salt and pepper.  To add a little zing, you could season it with lemon pepper.  I think that’s what I’m going to do next time I make the dish.

I sliced the chicken into strips.

I sliced the chicken into strips.
That old bone-handled knife belonged to my father-in-law. The blade is worn down pretty far from all of the sharpening over the years and boy is it sharp.

I started to cook the chicken before I realized the recipe called for a grill pan.  Oh well, no grill marks, but it came out just fine.  The recipe didn’t mention it, but I sprayed the pan with a little olive oil before I cooked the chicken.

Be sure to cook the chicken all the way through.

Be sure to cook the chicken all the way through.

When the chicken was finished cooking, I removed it from the pan and kept it warm in the oven.  I wiped the pan out and sauteed the garlic and red pepper flakes in the same pan.  Saute the garlic and red pepper until that wonderful, garlicky fragrance is reached.   Now it’s time to add the pasta to the pan and mix around.

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Once the pasta is heated through, I added it to a heated bowl, then added the chicken, lemon juice and parsley.  After adding those ingredients, I tossed the pasta to distribute the oil and herbs.  (Yes, I heat my bowls and serving dishes before I add hot food to them.  Keeps the food warm longer.)

I sprinkled the parmesan after I plated the pasta and chicken in the serving plates.

I waited to sprinkle the Parmesan until after I plated the pasta and chicken in the serving dishes.

We really enjoyed this dish.  I seasoned it with lemon pepper before eating it because I love lemon pepper.  And since I like spicy, I added a little extra red pepper flakes, too.

Side Note:  I’ve gotten into the habit of ladling out and keeping some of the pasta water before I drain pasta.  A little drizzle can be used if a pasta dish is a bit dry for your taste.  For this dish, another remedy would be to add a little extra oil to the pasta.

For a side dish, I found the most delicious recipe for Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese at the blog called jjbegonia.  If you want to see some beautiful photography along with a wonderful recipe, go here.

I only had one pear, but jjbegonia mentioned in a comment that apples could be used as an alternative.  I decided to use both.

The recipe calls for apple cider, but I didn’t have it, so I used cranberry-raspberry juice.  Since there are dried cranberries in the recipe, I thought cranberry juice would be a good choice.

WARNING:  Don’t walk away from the pan while toasting the walnuts.  I was so busy taking photos of the food, I burned my first batch.  To toast them, I heated them in a small Teflon-coated pan and stirred them occasionally.  I chopped them after they were toasted.  Go here for both the oven method and the stove top method for toasting nuts.

For the dressing, I only whisked a few drops of olive oil to the pan juices.  We loved this dish!

Oh, and did I mention port wine is one of the ingredients?  Yum…

Go to jjbegonia for the recipe.  You won’t be disappointed.

Here's my Roasted Pear & Apple with Blue Cheese on Spring Mix Greens.

Here’s my Roasted Pears & Apples with Blue Cheese on Spring Mix Greens.

Mother’s Day

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Wishes go out to all the Moms for a Happy Mother’s Day.  I hope you have a wonderful day, enjoying some well deserved pampering.

I’ll be thinking of my Mom today and about how much I love and miss her.