Thursday, February 26, 2009

Off The Hook- Escarole Soup

I got a text message last night at 9:15pm as I was leaving work: "My soup is off the hook"
TE was home cooking dinner while I was working late (I love my husband).
He has been excited to use our newest cooking tool: a red Le Creuset dutch oven. We made Mark Bittman's no-knead bread this weekend- now it was time for soup. I had picked out a recipe that Mel had tried and recommended from Eating Well: Bean and Escarole Soup. But this ended up being a TE style Bean and Escarole soup.
What, you ask, is a TE style soup? Soup with sausage and pancetta- of course! For reference: a "Liz style" soup would probably "follow" the recipe as loosely and contain none of the meat- instead it would include any and all vegetables I can get my hands on-- guess which family dinners are more popular?!

*Sorry for the picture- I should be showing off our new dutch oven- instead you get to see my Tupperware that I brought for lunch today...
Here is my best guess as to how he made the yummy soup.

TE's Bean and Escarole Soup

8- 1cup servings

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 head escarole, chopped
  • 4 slices of Pancetta
  • 1lb hot Italian sausage grounds/out of casing
  • Red pepper to taste

Heat Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, and garlic, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add sausage and pancetta and cook until mostly browned. Add broth, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in beans and escarole and cook, stirring often, until the escarole is just tender, about 5 minutes. Season with red pepper.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sausage and Yam Fajitas

This recipe was from Bon Appetit- and I loved it! At first I thought it seemed like a strange combination of flavors- but it was quite tasty. It was fast, light, and contained one of TE's favorite foods- hot Italian sausage! Here is the recipe:

Chorizo, Poblano and Yam Fajitas

  • 2 cups paper-thin slices red onions
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch-thick sticks peeled yam (red-skinned sweet potato)
  • 12 to 14 ounces fresh chorizo sausages (about 3), casings removed*
  • 2 fresh poblano chiles,* halved, seeded, cut into thin strips (I could not find these so I used red bell peppers and one jalapeno)
  • 8 7- to 8-inch-diameter flour tortillas**
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Toss onions and generous sprinkle of salt in medium bowl. Mix in lime juice. Set aside to marinate, tossing occasionally.

Meanwhile, place yam in microwave-safe bowl. Add splash of water. Cover; cook on high until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Sauté chorizo in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking into small pieces with fork, about 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl. Spoon off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. Add chiles to skillet. Cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Drain yam; transfer to skillet. Add chorizo and toss 1 minute to rewarm filling.

Cook 1 tortilla at a time directly over gas flame or in skillet until heated, 10 to 15 seconds per side. (I just warmed them in the microwave)

Arrange tortillas on work surface. Spoon filling in strip down center of each. Top with cheese, onions, and sprinkle of lime marinade. Fold in sides of tortillas.

*I used 1lb of sausage grounds (out of the casing), and drained most of the fat after cooking the sausage before cooking the veggies in the fat.
**Also I used La Tortilla's wraps (60cals, 6g fiber) which is significantly lower in calories than most wraps.
It says this is a recipe for 4 servings, 2 fajitas each, but I made 4 over-stuffed fajitas.
I used less cheese and 1 less wrap...
Calories to be calculated later :)

Happy Diet Anniversary

One year ago today I started eating my CR diet. I was on packaged foods and a big baby about it. Thinking back- I was not too much more irrational than I would be today if I had to go back on the study supplied foods. Sorry CALERIE- it was not that bad, it is just much better to prepare your own foods :)
I will celebrate tonight by finishing my dinner at 7pm and attending a concert where I will drink water only since I have to be at the study center before 7am tomorrow morning after having fasted for 12hrs... fun ay?! At least the concert should be fun!
More updates to come!

Monday, February 23, 2009

One Year

I am approaching the month-long physical for my 1yr anniversary of being enrolled in the CALERIE study. We remember how my 6mo physical went (they said I was eating 400cals over my prescription) so I am going to try to be SUPER adherent this month.
I have been a bit burned out recently and I have not wanted to think about food- at all... That is not good when you need to record everything all the time. I will be attempting to blog more in an effort to motivate additional recording and strict calorie counting.
I have still been cooking and making new recipes and I am trying to put together a binder of my favorite go-to recipes for easy dinner prep... but even that seems like more than I want to do right now... I will post a few new recipes soon.
I have been mostly focusing on my own research and teaching. This semester has been a lot of work so far- and my to do list gets longer and longer each week- which makes graduation seem further and further away.
But I am keeping things going one day at a time and I don't feel overly stressed out- I am just not getting to do everything that may want to... Something that made the cut recently-- the Academy Awards- after a full day of working (on a Sunday!) I set up camp on my couch and watched everything from the red carpet up through the best movie of the year award! Prioritization at it's best :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tortilla Soup

This soup was an interesting adventure.... It turned out way too spicy- I needed to add 2x the amount of chicken broth than the recipe called for just to cut the heat and so my guests could survive the meal.
They were good sports about it- I think they remembered my first chili experience... The recipe was called 5-alarm chili and I am not sure if it called for 3 whole habanero peppers or that is just what I used, not knowing any better... Regardless- it was HOT. TE and Kate ate it at a 1:1 ratio of chili:sour cream (I have good, supportive friends!). This meal reminded me of that experience...
It was tasty in the end, but I will have to rethink the adobos and jalapenos next time.

The original recipe was from my favorite chefs at CI, but I modified it (or butchered it) so I could cook it in my slow-cooker. Here it is, in all it's spicy glory!

Tortilla Soup
(makes way more than 12 servings... I overestimated the calories to be 200/cup)

Each soup gets 1 toasted tortilla broken into pieces (60cal each)
Spray with cooking spray/oil and salt
Bake at 350 until toasted to preferable doneness

1.5lbs bone-in skinless chicken breasts
8c Low sodium chicken broth (that ended up being 16c)
1 large onion, quartered and peeled
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 canned chipotle chili, with 1T adobo sauce
1 chopped jalapeno

Lime wedge
1/4 of a diced avocado

Add all of the soup ingredients to slow-cooker and cook for 8hrs+ on low
Remove the chicken from pot and remove all bones and shred chicken
Strain vegetables from broth
Put chicken back into pot, keep warm until ready to serve
Serve with tortilla chips, lime, and avocados and enjoy!

Monday, February 2, 2009

New Year Feast Part 2

Well it is about time I got around to this :)

This was quite the feast to behold. TE made a traditional holiday standing rib-roast which we served with mushroom au jus, mashed potatoes and parsnips, Yorkshire pudding, sweet carrots, and brussel sprouts. Yum. Thinking about it again is making me very hungry!

No calorie info is stated. Bad night for counting calories...

Standing Rib Roast with Rosemary-Thyme Crust
Made as stated from
  • 1 9- to 9 1/2-pound standing beef rib roast (about 4 ribs), all but thin layer of fat trimmed
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 16 large shallots, peeled

Place beef, fat side up, in large shallow roasting pan or on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle beef all over with salt and pepper. Spread mustard all over beef. Mix rosemary and thyme in small bowl; sprinkle over beef and press lightly to adhere. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Position rack just below center of oven and preheat to 450°F. Roast beef uncovered 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Roast beef 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Spoon off all but 2 tablespoons drippings. Add carrots and shallots to pan. Turn vegetables to coat with drippings; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast beef and vegetables until thermometer inserted into center of beef registers 125°F for medium-rare, stirring vegetables occasionally, about 55 minutes longer. Transfer beef and vegetables to platter; tent loosely with foil to keep warm.

Mushroom Gravy
*I am not sure this is how we made this...

5oz dried mixed mushrooms, soaked in hot water and sliced
3T Butter
3T Flour
3c Beef stock
0.5c Red wine

Melt butter in sauce pot. Add mushrooms and cook for 5min. Add flour and mix well. Add broth and wine and cook down. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Yorkshire Puddings
Adapted from Cooking Light Entertaining Guide Cookbook (a gift from Mom!)


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup 2% low-fat milk (I used skim milk and it was fine)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon pan drippings (reserved from roast) (per muffin)
  • Vegetable cooking spray


Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until smooth. Beat at high speed 15 seconds; set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon reserved pan drippings into each cup. Place popover pan/muffin pan in a 400° oven for 3 minutes. Divide batter evenly among prepared cups, and bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°, and bake an additional 25 minutes or until golden. Serve immediately.

Sherry Vinegar and Molasses Glazed Carrots



  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 3 pounds small carrots (5 to 6 inches long), peeled, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more) coarse kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided

Melt butter in heavy extra-large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots, 1 tablespoon molasses, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt; sauté until carrots are coated with butter mixture, about 1 minute. Add 4 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar and enough water to almost cover carrots (about 4 cups) and bring to boil. Cover and boil 2 minutes. Uncover and boil until liquid is reduced to syrup and carrots are tender, stirring often, about 20 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon molasses and 2 tablespoons vinegar to carrots and toss over medium-high heat until carrots are heated through and thickly coated with glaze, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon parsley. Season carrots to taste with more coarse salt and generous amount of ground black pepper. Transfer carrots to large bowl; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and serve.

Lighter Mashed Potatoes and Parsnips
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Light Recipes (a gift from Mel!)


1 pounds peeled parsnips, diced into approx 1in cubes

1 head of garlic, top cut off and drizzled/sprayed with olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 pounds russet potatoes (about 4 medium), scrubbed, peeled, and cut into chunks
3/4 cup 2% milk , warmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream


  1. Place the potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until a fork can be slipped easily into the center of the potatoes, about 18 minutes. Drain the potatoes.

  2. While potatoes are boiling, roast the parsnips and the head of garlic on a sprayed cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 10min, toss parsnips only, respray the pan and continue roasting for 5-10 more minutes
  3. Combine potatoes, garlic (removed from skin) and parsnips in bowl for mashing (I did this by hand, you can use a food processor I am sure) and mash!

  4. Stir in the milk and melted butter with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Gently fold in the sour cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Light New York Style Cheesecake

I made this for the Jewish High Holidays back in the fall. It was to.die.for.
I am sure the butter, caramelized topping helped matters, but even still-- this was a great cheesecake.
If you are looking for a lightened cheesecake that does not sacrifice flavor or texture- look no further. The chefs at CI know what they are doing. I love them. A lot. Enjoy!

Light New York Cheesecake

From Cook's Illustrated Best Light Recipes
Serves 12

Be sure to use light cream cheese, which is commonly sold in tubs. Don’t confuse light cream cheese with Neufchatel cheese, which is sold in blocks and is higher in fat. Allowing the cottage cheese to drain on towels for at least 30 minutes will ensure a firm cheesecake. You can buy yogurt cheese (also called Labne) or make your own, (see related recipe). If making your own cheese, you will need to allow at least 12 hours for the yogurt to drain. You can substitute fat free cream cheese for the yogurt cheese, but the cheesecake will have a slightly firmer texture.


whole graham crackers (5 ounces), broken into rough pieces and processed in a food processor to fine even crumbs (about 1 1/4 cups)
tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
tablespoon sugar

tablespoon fresh lemon juice
pound 1% cottage cheese
pound light cream cheese , at room temperature
ounces drained fat free plain greek yogurt
teaspoon salt
cups sugar
teaspoon lemon zest
tablespoon vanilla extract
large eggs , at room temperature
Vegetable cooking spray

1/2c sugar
1/4c water
1 stick butter
4 medium apples peeled and sliced thin


1. For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar together in a medium bowl. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and press evenly into the pan bottom. Bake the crust until fragrant and beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.

2. For the filling: Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees. Line a medium bowl with a clean dish towel or several layers of paper towels. Spoon the cottage cheese into the bowl and let drain for 30 minutes.

3. Process the drained cottage cheese in a food processor until smooth and no visible lumps remain, about 1 minute, scraping down the work bowl once or twice. Add the cream cheese and yogurt cheese and process until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the work bowl once or twice. Add the salt, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla and continue to process until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down the work bowl once or twice. With the processor running, add the eggs, one at a time and process until smooth.

4. Being careful to not disturb the baked crust, spray the sides of the springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Set the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake 10 minutes. Without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the cheesecake reads 150 degrees, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

5. Transfer the cake to a wire rack, and run a paring knife around the edge of the cake. Let cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours, running a paring knife around the edge of the cake every hour or so. Wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.

6. To unmold the cheesecake, wrap a hot kitchen towel around the springform pan and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and blot any excess moisture from the top of the cheesecake with paper towels. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges.

7. To make the topping, in a heavy, medium saucepan, combine the 1/2 cup sugar and water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking until amber in color, 7 to 10 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally. Add the butter, stir, and cook over low heat until the butter is melted and evenly incorporated. Add the apples and stir to coat with the caramel. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until the apples are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool before topping the cheesecake.

PER SERVING WITHOUT TOPPING: Cal 340; Fat 13 g; Sat fat 8 g; Chol 85 mg; Carb 41 g; Protein 11 g; Fiber 0 g; Sodium 530 mg