Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lite Summer Pasta Primavera

I love pasta (I know SHOCKER!) and I love fresh veggies.  However, big Italian meals tend to heat up the kitchen and the house so much – plus anything with “cream sauce” in the name is high in fat!  Which in the winter is great, warm house – stick to your ribs food - but in the summer in Tennessee – is AWFUL!  So, what is an Italian gal to do to enjoy her pasta in the spring & summer of Tennessee?
I came up with the below recipe to make a healthy non-cream version of pasta primavera.  It uses less heat... no heavy cream sauce.  
Instead we have w hite wine, butter and olive oil reduction type sauce.  The fresh veggies are nice and crisp and the reduction sauce really brings out the crisp flavors of both the veggies and the pasta, you won't even miss the cream – I promise!  
The tomatoes I have to pay special homage to here because they come out SO AWESOME in the sauté method of cooking...The grape tomatoes cooked this way are a great alternative to the all day simmering sauce you would normally make in the winter months.  They just explode with flavor in your mouth (if I do say so myself).  I can't even describe accurately the pop and flavor that you will get with these.  If you love tomatoes – you will be in heaven.  If you are “iffy” on the subject – you will be a convert.  If you don't like tomatoes – why are you reading my blog?????  LOL!
In fact, I will be hosting a fundraiser ladies' evening in my house benefitting the American Heart Association in July and I think I will be serving this meal.  It is easy, quick and I think that would be a great way to share a meal with my gal pals and to benefit a great cause.  Plus, it will keep the house cool, is a healthy meal and tasty to boot 
12 grape tomatoes
1 zucchini cut in half length wise, & then sliced into little half moons
1C fresh green beans, cleaned & rinsed
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cut into bite sized pieces
2T olive oil
1t garlic powder
1t onion powder
1T butter
1/2C white wine
S&P to taste
1/2 box of Whole Wheat thin spaghetti - cooked as directed on box ( you can use a whole box – the sauce and veggies go a long way)
Here is after I have put everything back together to toss in the reduction.
In a large sauté or fry pan put olive oil ver medium heat. Put in the chicken & season with garlic & onion powder & S&P. Cook until Noel longer pink (about 5-7mins). Remove with a slotted spoon to another bowl. Put in the zucchini & cook about 5mins (will get a little brown) and remove with slotted spoon to bowl with chicken. Put in the butter & swirl until melted but don't let it burn. Then pour in wine & scrape pan - simmer about 5mins. The put in the tomatoes & cook about 5mins - some might burst but that's ok. Put in the green beans & heat them up -about 2min. Then pour the chicken & zucchini back in the pan & heat everything through. 

Once everything is combined & heated - pour over pasta & serve.

I couldn't get the color right on the photo but it does make a fun presentation!
Serving Size: About 1 1/2 scoops with pasta spoon 1 1/2 to 2 cups of everything mixed together.  Number of Servings: 5

Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 5
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 355.4
Total Fat: 8.9 g
Cholesterol: 28.1 mg
Sodium: 117.8 mg
Total Carbs: 50.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 8.9 g
Protein: 19.0 g

Monday, May 14, 2012

Farmers' Market Finds and Gardening in Small Spaces

Well, I am doing a quick lunch hour post while I am home.  I REALLY wanted to get back on track with my healthy eating because I had been eating out all this week.  So I went to our local Saturday Farmer's Market.  If you live in Tennessee, like I do, you can go to this website Pick TN to find your local farmer's market.  I am sure a similar website can provide info for where you live.

They have great organic (cheaper than Whole Foods and on par with Kroger organics price wise), locally grown seasonal veggies, grass-fed organic meats, and organic dairy (i.e. heavy cream, half & half, butter, milk, etc).  This weekend my big find was a lettuce planter.  I had never thought to do this and honestly I thought lettuce was tender and hard to grow.  NOPE!  All you do is pluck off what you need, like you do with basil, for your salad or your sandwich, wash and eat.  Also, it makes a great outdoor center piece for your patio table while dining al fresco!
Isn't this super cute and it's sustainably edible too!
I just made a great turkey sandwich and went out and plucked off a romaine leaf, rinsed and topped my sandwich and OMG!  FRESH & YUMMY!!!

I know what you're thinking - I can't grow anything...I don't have space.  I live in a condo - no yard and I have planted patio pots with tomatoes, jalapenos, pole beans (thank you for the seeds work-friend Sheli!), basil, thyme, grapes (yes grapes), and lettuce.  You just need to work with the space you have.  Bloom where you are planted, as they say.  I try to find things that grow either up and viney or in pots well.

As far as the "I can't grow things" idea.  I kill all flowering plants - not sure why.  Veggies and herbs - I am good with.  I think you are one or the other.  If you kill flowers - try veggies.  You may find that not only are you great at it but you have a whole meal in your small space backyard!

Happy spring y'all!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

1st Place Winner - Italian Sausage & Peppers!

Woo hoo!!! I'm so excited to share that I won our office crockpot cookoff!

It was my Italian Sausage & Peppers that I modified from my Aunt's recipe for the crockpot. I checked & I realized it wasn't even posted on here. Shame on me! Sorry there is no picture but it's all gone & I've has several requests for the recipe today.

Italian Sausage & Peppers - Blue Ribbon Style!

1/4C olive oil
2lbs Mild Italian Sausage (the links), cut into bite sized pieces
2 bags of tri-color peppers & onions – these are in the freezer section
½ a jar of mild banana peppers
2 large cans crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
2 HEAPPING teaspoons of minced ---garlic from the jar
1teaspoon Italian seasoning

Put the crockpot on low. Add in the oil and then the sausages. Then the peppers, crushed tomatoes, paste, garlic, spices. I stir it together a little but you don’t have to.
Cover the pot and cook for 8-10 hours. My aunt makes it in the oven so I figured it out from her for the crockpot so I could cook it and go to work.

You can serve this over pasta or by itself with Italian bread.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Italian Turkey Meatballs

I loved going to my grandma's house - it always smelled like meatballs and gravy (tomato sauce).  It was my comfort food zone.  Now that I am trying to be a bit healthier full 80/20 ground beef is really not the best choice for me.  However, I can't give up my Italian heritage.  So what's a gal to do???  A healthy and still tasty swap! 

I came up with the below recipe.  The original calls for 80/20 ground beef, Progresso Italian bread crumbs and instead of baking - you would fry them in olive oil...  In case you wanted the original recipe.  The below is lower in fat all the way around as well as it is CLEAN - I found panko bread crumbs (of all places) at Big Lots that had only one ingredient - Panko Bread crumbs.  No preservatives.  Everything else - clean.  These little suckers taste great alone or soaked in tomato sauce.  I topped 1cup of polenta with them and cover them in sauce and mozzarella cheese - a great whole grain alternative to pasta.
Hope you love as much as I do!

Italian Turkey Meatballs

  • 1-1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 3/4 C Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • One egg
  • Salt and pepper

Here's everything except the egg - I forgot to put it in but you do need one.
Directions:  Put everything in a bowl.  Then get to squishing everything together with your hands until its thoroughly combined. Then roll into 1-2inch balls and place on a non-stick or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  

Just like baking cookies - that easy!
Bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes 
Serving Size: Makes 15 meatballs at 81cal per meatball.
Here is how they look when done - see nearly no fat!