Saturday, January 30, 2010

What's for dinner?

After tiring of the usual mealtime stress around here (not to mention the endless bowls of chili and blackbean soup wrought from the lack of preparation), Kingofthehill finally convinced me to resign myself to the making of weekly menus - complete with corresponding shopping lists. I became a believer within the first two days! What an epiphany to have both a luscious-looking new recipe AND the ingredients to make it! What took me so long?

I noticed that Madam SmallWorld does the same, and have ripped off several of her ideas in the past couple of weeks. Namely the Greek Pasta Bake and Chipotle Tomato Soup. Save the Pasta dish for when you are serving an army or need to freeze a few dishes ahead. It really produces! It is also really tasty and South Beach friendly. And I could live off that Tomato Soup. I really could. I ate it for like 5 days in a row and nearly cried when I scraped the last drop out of the bowl. Be brave and put like 3 chipotle peppers in -- then add more diced chipotles to your own bowl for an amazing lift if you like spicy stuff. So thank you for those ideas, SmallWorld!

So, here's what is on the menu for this week at my house:

I went heavy on choices from The Pioneer Woman Cooks because, well, she's funny. And who doesn't need humor while making out a menu?? It is bad enough to finally have to succumb to the human need for structure after years of living in denial!

Note: I use whole wheat pasta everywhere it calls for pasta, and since I don't eat pork, I substitute some other kind of bacon where called for. And evidently, the recipes I've tried so far are pretty forgiving.

Chicken Capri (from Lisa Best)

This will work for the South Beach Diet Phase 1.

This dish tastes like it took you all day, but it can be done in 30 minutes. The chicken goes especially well with a crisp garden salad topped with any South Beach Diet–approved dressing. Makes 4 servings.

1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup crushed tomatoes
4 slices reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

In a blender or food processor, combine the ricotta with the oregano, salt, and pepper. Process to blend.

Rub the chicken with the garlic powder. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 12 minutes per side. Place the chicken breasts, side by side, in a large baking dish and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spoon 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture and 1/4 cup tomatoes onto each chicken breast. Top each chicken breast with 1 slice mozzarella. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of a breast register 170°F and the juices run clear.

Nutritional Information:
340 calories
15 g fat (5 g sat)
6 g carbohydrate
44 g protein
1 g fiber
470 mg sodium
115 mg cholesterol

Turnip and Chickpea (Garbanzo bean) Cobbler - From Blair Beaumont

This will work for Phase 2 of the South Beach Diet.

A good mid-week meal with an attractive savoury scone (bisquit) topping. Use a star shaped cutter for the topping. Serves 4-6.

1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
3 medium sized turnips, chopped
1 small sweet potato, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced thinly
3 T sunflower oil
1/2 t ground coriander (cilantro)
1/2 t dried mixed herbs
1 x 15 oz (450g) can chopped tomatoes
1 x 14 oz can chick peas (garbanzos)
1 vegetable stock cube (bouillon)
salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cups self rising flour
1 t baking powder
4 T margarine
3 T sunflower seeds
2 T Parmesean cheese, grated
2/3 cup milk

1. Fry all the veggies in the oil for about 10 mins until they are soft. Add the coriander, herbs tomatoes, chick peas with their liquor and stock cube. Season well and simmer for 20 mins.

2. Pour the veggies into a shallow casserole dish while you make the topping. Preheat oven to 375F.

3. Mix together the flour and the baking powder, then rub in the margarine until it resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the seeds and parmesan cheese. Add the milk and mix to a firm dough.

4. Lightly roll out the topping to a thickness of 1/2 inch and stamp out star shapes or rounds. Or simply cut it into small squares.

5. Place the shapes on top of the vegetable mixture and brush with a little extra milk. Bake for 12-15 mins until risen and golden brown. Serve hot with green leafy vegetables.