Simple Sauteed Broccolini (Baby Broccoli)
May09

Simple Sauteed Broccolini (Baby Broccoli)

This way of making broccoli/broccolini/broccolette is reeeeeally easy, reeeeeeally healthy, and even your little ones will like it. Trust me—you’ll never make steamed broccoli again! My friend, Sloane, just invited me to do a recipe swap—which I was reluctant to do, because the last time I did it almost all the people I invited declined, and it seemed to be more trouble than it was worth. But since Sloane is a fabulous cook, I thought I’d give it a go. (Sorry in advance to the 20 friends who will soon be getting the invite from me!) And then to choose a recipe… where to even begin?! The instructions were for something simple–preferably that you make from memory. AHA! My Sauteed Broccolini! It MUST be good, because my other friend, Nicole, called me for the recipe after I made it for her and her two little darlings. (When you get a two, three, and four year old to eat your veggie dish, it’s a happy day!) Here are the little princesses making Valentine’s Cookies (That’s mine on the left)   And then I thought… if I’m typing this up to send out in a recipe swap, shouldn’t I be sharing it with the rest of you…? So here it is! What is Broccolini? Similar to broccoli, but with a milder, sweeter taste and smaller florets. Fun for kids to grab onto the long, thin stalks—especially if they have those pretty little yellow flowers, which BTW are edible. Though sometimes labeled “Baby Broccoli” it is not, in fact, “young broccoli”, but rather a hybrid of broccoli and kai-lan (Chinese Kale), and is popular in Japan. I usually buy it at Trader Joe’s (fav TJ’s veg!)—but these days you’ll find cute little bunches of it in the produce section of most US markets. Click here for my Trader Joe’s Shopping List (with Weight Watchers Power Foods and Points Plus) >>   At Vons (Safeway) look for Broccolette   I couldn’t live without my Masterclad 12-inch nonstick pan (I have two!)—look out for them at Costco trade shows, where they are heavily discounted. The one with the lid is perfect for sautéing and then steaming veggies. Click here for my Costco Shopping List >>   How to Smash Garlic Smashing garlic makes it easier to peel and releases its garlicky oils, which will flavor your olive oil just enough, and the larger pieces of garlic won’t burn as easily as little ones. Place the back of your chefs knife down on the clove and carefully give it a whack or two with your fist. Then slice off the end and peel. Have you...

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Quick Mexican Chicken Soup with Hominy
Feb20

Quick Mexican Chicken Soup with Hominy

This delicious Posole (traditional Mexican soup or stew) takes 30 minutes to make, and the fun toppings add interesting textures and surprising flavor-bursts. Yummmy! Even Mr. Picky loved it. (faint)   My first request when I go back to South Africa is for my beloved Samp Mielies—a staple in the diet of the Xhosa South African people. (Mielie means corn in Afrikaans.) I have fond memories of my nanny making it for me. I even had my dad schlep a bag in his suitcase when I first moved to Los Angeles in 1996, and almost burned the house down when I tried cooking it in the microwave! (It usually takes about 3 hours to cook on the stove.) Oy! This was clearly before I learned how to cook. In our recent trip to South Africa, sweetheart Mary made it specially for me. You’ll never believe what her secret ingredient was… Cremora. (South African coffee creamer) Hmmm… interesting. That’s her making me a to-go cup (pad-kos) for the drive to the airport. 🙂   I was ecstatic to discover that hominy (the canned, Mexican version of it), was quite similar—and no cooking required! Hominy is basically like giant, puffed up pieces of corn, but with that pasta-like density and chew-factor. LOVE it! And it’s good for you. (It’s one of my top ten Weight Watchers Power Foods—coming soon) But still, I was never quite sure what to do with it—besides heat and eat.   Then last week I saw an intriguing dish at Gelsons Market in California—and on closer inspection discovered that what I thought was potato was actually hominy.   Actually, in their version, called “Chicken Ranchero”, there was hominy and potato. I fell head-over-heels in love with this dish (actually, more like obsessed) and was determined to re-create it. I remembered seeing Daphne Oz making something similar on The Chew (Daphne Oz’s Chicken Pozole Verde)—where she pureed tomatillos and jalapeños. I thought that using Salsa Verde—a green salsa made from tomatillos, green chiles and cilantro—would make it even more cinchy, and no need to conquer your fear of chiles! (Ok, you’re right…  my fear, not yours!)   If you can’t find Salsa Verde, sauté half a chopped jalapeño pepper with the garlic. Greek Yogurt in Mexican Soup, you say? If you can up the protein while adding creaminess and tang, I say why not! Some people don’t like (actually, more like hate) cilantro, so leave it as an optional topping. Crumble Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt White Corn Tortilla Chips for extra crunch! (They don’t taste guilt free at all)   And would you believe that these are all Weight...

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Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Dec18

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

This time of year—when we’re surrounded by tempting treats—this low fat, comforting soup will feel slightly indulgent and satisfy your sweet tooth, without taking you down! And it’s easy enough to make during the week, but special enough to serve for guests.   I was inspired to make this by the 2-pound container of butternut squash chunks (preservative free) at Costco.   You can, of course, just peel, core and cut up a large butternut squash to yield about the same amount. Nothing ever compares to the freshest ingredients that you peel and chop yourself, but sometimes using convenience items is the difference between getting a homemade dinner on the table, or just not attempting anything… so I’ll always opt for using precut veggies to help out when you need it! A touch of curry powder adds an interesting flavor, without overpowering the delicious squash or making it spicy. Trader Joe’s Curry Powder works perfectly in this recipe, but any mild curry powder will do.   “Sweat” the onions first, over low heat, to soften them and release the moisture—without browning them.   Garnish with Low Fat Greek Yogurt to balance the sweetness and add extra protein. If you’re doing Weight Watchers Simple Start or Simply Filling, Fat Free Greek Yogurt will keep this a Weight Watchers Power Food. Yummm!! Butternut Squash and Apple Soup 2013-12-18 14:32:41 Serves 6 4 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving. WW Power Food. Write a review Save Recipe Print 159 calories 28 g 0 g 5 g 4 g 1 g 351 g 59 g 10 g 0 g 5 g Nutrition Facts Serving Size 351g Servings 6 Amount Per Serving Calories 159 Calories from Fat 47 % Daily Value * Total Fat 5g 8% Saturated Fat 1g 4% Trans Fat 0g Polyunsaturated Fat 1g Monounsaturated Fat 4g Cholesterol 0mg 0% Sodium 59mg 2% Total Carbohydrates 28g 9% Dietary Fiber 5g 19% Sugars 10g Protein 4g Vitamin A322%Vitamin C60% Calcium9%Iron8% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Does this look wrong? Ingredients 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, high quality 1 large yellow onion, chopped 1 teaspoon mild curry powder 2 pounds butternut squash chunks (1 large) 2 small golden delicious apples, or other sweet apples 14.5 oz can (2 cups) low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth) kosher salt freshly ground black pepper water Instructions Add olive oil, onions, curry powder, and two large pinches of salt to a large dutch oven or stockpot and cook uncovered, over low heat, for 10 - 15 minutes, until...

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Fabio’s Mom’s Meatballs, made Light
Oct15

Fabio’s Mom’s Meatballs, made Light

One of my most special family times ever was making meatballs and sauce (from scratch!) with my hubby and little one. These are super-easy and fun to make, and mouthwateringly delicious!   Sam—who only makes Kraft Mac & Cheese—threatened to make them after accompanying me to Fabio Viviani’s Cooking Demo, but I didn’t think he’d actually follow through.   Look what I got Mr. Clean to do! (If he can do it, so can you.) He actually rubbed olive oil into his hands before rolling the balls!!! Needless to say it was a computer-free evening. (Oh! Now I get why he washed the dishes for an hour.)   Fabio insists that the secret to moist meatballs is to cook them right in the sauce, and after trying his, we agree. Do you sear your meatballs, or cook them right in the sauce?   At the risk of upsetting a feisty Italian, I used Laura’s Lean Beef (92% lean) instead of 80/20, recommended by Fabio.   Ricotta cheese keeps them moist, and they were just as tasty with low fat ricotta and lean beef.   You could, of course, make them with turkey, but then they would be turkey meatballs! I eat SO much turkey and chicken, that sometimes I crave that yummy, beefy taste. And these are healthier than many of the turkey meatballs out there. (Especially the pre-cooked ones.) Warning: Very more-ish! This was my third time making them (finally got down to posting the recipe), and once again I couldn’t stop thinking about them all night long, and went back in at 10pm! What is it about them that keeps you going back for more?   Serve with crusty Ciabatta Bread and/or Trader Joe’s Vegetable Radiatore. (5 Weight Watchers PointsPlus for 3/4 cup.)   Baby Broccoli sautéed in olive oil and garlic makes a great side dish—I don’t even need the pasta.   Tips for Success Mince the garlic and the shallots quite finely, because they’re not getting cooked before going into the meatballs. Shallots are a little milder and sweeter than onions. How to Mince a Shallot Keep the root end intact, and make one slice through the middle, horizontally, and then tiny slices almost all the way to the root, but not through it. That way all the pieces don’t separate and go all over the board.   I learned a great tip from Alex Guarnaschelli, to spread the meat around and up the sides of the bowl, so you can season it properly.   Oops! Not quite sure how much salt went into that batch.   The meatballs can be rolled the day before; cover with...

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Homemade Tomato Sauce
Oct14

Homemade Tomato Sauce

I’d never have dreamed of making Tomato Sauce from scratch, but Fabio got me with, “so simple I don’t even call it cooking.” Who knew that something so simple could be sooo good—and surprisingly satisfying to make yourself. I love the chunks of tomato and fresh basil, and it’s way tastier and healthier than any sodium-laden sauce you’ll find at the store. Fabio’s Tip: Use canned—not fresh—tomatoes, for better texture and consistent flavor.   Believe the hype about San Marzano tomatoes being special, because they really are. Don’t fall for the “San Marzano Style” variety—not the same!   Don’t do what I did and try to use the actual spoon (not the back of the spoon, as he instructed) to smash the tomatoes; one burst open and squirted boiling liquid onto me. I found my Epicurian flat spatula (one of my favorite cooking tools) easier to use. But if you don’t have one, the back of your wooden spoon will do the job.   This is definitely a time to bust out the high quality EVOO. I’ve used Trader Giotto’s Sicilian Selezione Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Kirkland Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Tuscany, and both were fantastic. That’s Kosher salt in the sugar bowl. (I got that trick from Alton Brown)   I did add a pinch of sugar at the end, because it tasted a little acidic to me. Smashing the garlic makes it easier to peel, and releases its oils, without making it too small and easy to burn.     This recipe produces two delicious cups of sauce, in which you cook Fabio’s Mom’s Meatballs >>   You can find Fabio’s Italian Kitchen at Costco or Amazon.com Highly Recommend! Click here for my book review and Fabio’s Cooking Demo at Cafe Firenze Cool Tools Epicurean Flat Spatula – Sur La Table Mario Batali 6-Quart Dutch Oven Fabio's Tomato Sauce 2013-08-06 17:53:56 Serves 4 Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 10 min Cook Time 20 min Total Time 30 min Prep Time 10 min Cook Time 20 min Total Time 30 min 326 calories 20 g 0 g 28 g 4 g 4 g 433 g 73 g 13 g 0 g 23 g Nutrition Facts Serving Size 433g Servings 4 Amount Per Serving Calories 326 Calories from Fat 244 % Daily Value * Total Fat 28g 43% Saturated Fat 4g 19% Trans Fat 0g Polyunsaturated Fat 3g Monounsaturated Fat 20g Cholesterol 0mg 0% Sodium 73mg 3% Total Carbohydrates 20g 7% Dietary Fiber 5g 19% Sugars 13g Protein 4g Vitamin A52%Vitamin C108% Calcium13%Iron27% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet....

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