Saturday, February 18, 2012

Spinach, Mushroom, and Bacon Pasta

Spinach, Mushroom, and Bacon Pasta

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups spinach
8 oz sliced mushrooms
6 sweet hickory-smoked bacon slices (raw)
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
8 ounces uncooked mini penne (tube-shaped pasta)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded sharp provolone cheese
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in pan; crumble bacon. Increase heat to medium-high. Add shallots, rosemary and mushrooms to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until tender. Combine with bacon, and shallots; set aside.

Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well.

Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. 

Add provolone, stirring until cheese melts. Add pasta, mushroom mixture and spinach to cheese mixture, tossing well to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.

Jamaican Rice and Peas

I made this recipe to accompany the Jerk Chicken for a party I was attending.  I quadrupled the recipe, so please keep that in mind when looking at the pictures.  I almost didn't have a pot large enough for all of the rice -- it almost overflowed!  As you can see, I surrounded the edges of the platter with fried plantains for presentation!

Jamaican Rice and Peas

1 medium sized can red kidney beans
1 can coconut milk
2 cups of rice
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 table spoon oil
1 scotch bonnet pepper (whole, do not chop up)

Drain the liquid from the can of beans into a measuring cup and add the can of coconut milk and enough water to make four cups of liquid. Place liquids in a pot with beans, onions, garlic, thyme and oil, bring to a boil. Add rice and stir for a minute. Reduce heat to Medium-Low. 

Place scotch bonnet pepper on top of liquid and cover tightly for 30 minutes or until rice is cooked. Remove scotch bonnet pepper before serving.

Monday, January 23, 2012



2 slices turkey bacon, cooked
2 slices tomato
1-2 leaves of lettuce
2 slices reduced fat wheat bread, toased
1/4 avocado

Build the sandwich, slice in half and enjoy!

Weight Watchers Points+ = 8pts+

Kale Chips

Before I made these, I heard that these tasted like potato chips and I laughed.  I figured it was time to try them.  While they weren't *exactly* like potato chips - I was pleasantly surprised.  Once I started eating them, they grew on me and I soon devoured the whole plate!

Kale Chips

1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.

With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.

Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.               

Weight Watchers Points+ = 1 point+

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Achiote Chicken and Pineapple Tacos

Achiote Chicken and Pineapple Tacos

2-3 lbs chicken breast tenders
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup oil
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons ground annato or achiote paste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic power
1 pineapple, diced
1 red onion, sliced
12-18 corn tortillas

Combine all of the ingredients except chicken, pineapple, red onion, and tortillas in a blender or food processor.  Marinate chicken breasts in achiote mixture for 2-4 hours.  Be sure to marinate the chicken in a glass bowl or pan or a zip-lock bag.  The annato seeds are often used to naturally dye foods red so anything the marinade touches will stain!

Cook chicken in a cast iron skillet until done.  Remove from pan and let rest.  Cook pineapple and onion until heated through.

Warm tortillas and fill with chicken and top with pineapple and red onion.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mashed Potato Gratin

Mashed Potato Gratin

4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 cup (4 ounces) fontina cheese, shredded and divided
3/4 cup (3 ounces) Gruyère cheese, shredded and divided
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup warm 1% low-fat milk (100° to 110°)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place potatoes in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until tender; drain. Return potatoes to pan. 

Add 3/4 cup fontina cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, butter, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to pan; mash with a fork or potato masher until well combined. 

Add warm milk to pan; continue mashing potato mixture until desired consistency. Spoon into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 cup fontina cheese and remaining 1/4 cup Gruyère cheese. 

Cover with aluminum foil lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Remove from oven; remove and discard foil.

Preheat broiler.

Broil gratin 5 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly.


I love popovers - better and EASIER than any roll!  This is Ina Garten's recipe - my favorite!  It's a no fail recipe, but I find that 30 minutes is too long - 25 works best for me!  (Excuse the fact that my popovers got a little done - that's when I figured out I needed to cut the time.  I made them again at 25 minutes and they were perfect)


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for greasing pans
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

    Generously grease aluminum popover pans or Pyrex custard cups with softened butter. You'll need enough pans to make 12 popovers. Place the pans in the oven for exactly 2 minutes to preheat. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth. The batter will be thin. Fill the popover pans less than half full and bake for exactly 25 minutes. Do not peek.