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Archive for April, 2012

I’ve previously mentioned that the “Jen Special” involves fish, starch, green vegetable.  Over the years, I’ve tried to expand what the “Jen Special” means.  Originally, it meant baked salmon, mashed potatoes, and spinach.  Without fail, I had this dish at least once a week before I moved in with B.  Moving in with him lead us to be a little more creative because someone prefers variety.  This is the latest manifestation of the “Jen Special”.   Enjoy!

Pesto Salmon
4 cups packed basil
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
2 tbsp pine nuts
3 cloves garlic, fresh (We REALLY like garlic.  If you aren’t a huge fan of garlic, reduce to 2 cloves)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste
2- 4 oz. Sockeye (or other Salmon) fillet

Combine basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper together in a food processor until smooth.  Add additional components to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.  Place salmon in dish and spread pesto on top.  Bake salmon for approximately 20 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.

Orzo Salad*
1/4 lb. orzo pasta, dried
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
3 tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp feta cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
Salt, pepper, and fresh basil to taste

  1. In a pot, bring heavily salted water to a boil.  When water reaches a rolling boil, add dried orzo.
  2. In a separate saute pan, add olive oil and onions.  Cook onions about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until caramelized.  Set aside onions.  Add pine nuts to the pan and toast slightly, making sure not to let them burn.
  3. When orzo is cooked, drain and add to pan with pine nuts and onions.  Mix in tomatoes, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar.  Serve warm.

Asparagus with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Glaze

This was just a bunch of asparagus that I blanched.  I added dollops of goat cheese and drizzled store-bought balsamic glaze.

*Note: I messed up the orzo salad by over estimating (by a lot) how much orzo we needed.  I cooked the whole box (1 lb.) It was waaaaay too much and overpowered the other elements of the dish.  We also ate it for the next three days.  This recipe reflects a reduced amount of pasta but I did not reduce the rest of the recipe components

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If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I always keep bananas in our freezer.  It is B’s absolutely favorite thing.  I can tell since every time he opens the freezer, they fall out (our freezer is terrible, blame it on the fact we’re renters), and he yells something in joy.  I’m not going to say what he yells, seeing that this is polite company.

Regardless of B’s feelings towards the freezer bananas, I decided to make a banana bread to bring along for our trip to the Poconos.  I’ve previously made bananas foster cupcakes and I came across this recipe on Pintrest, which lead me to want to try this  recipe.  I made a few adjustments since I prefer a bit more banana flavor.  I also went with the fat-free greek yogurt instead of the fat-free regular yogurt because I’m a big fan of greek yogurt and its been awhile since I’ve used it.

Bananas Foster Bread
Serves 16, 5 Weight Watchers PP per serving

5-6 mashed ripe bananas
1 cup packed brown sugar, divided
5 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/3 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups ounces all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside. (I ended up using 2 – 4.5 x 8.5 pans)
  2. Combine bananas, 1/2 cup brown sugar, butter, and rum in a nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat; cool.
  3. Place banana mixture in a large bowl. Add yogurt, remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, and eggs. Beat with a stand or hand mixer at medium speed.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, flaxseed, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice.
  5. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended.
  6. Pour batter into your prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; place on wire rack.

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**So I’ve been very busy the past few months and realized I haven’t updated in a loooong time.  This is evidence of that.  I found a draft I never finished.  Instead of posting the recipes (since they’re not at all healthy) I’m just going to post it as a brag about how awesome B is.  If you’re interested in any of the specific recipes let me know and I’ll post them.**

B has always been very lucky in terms of Valentine’s Day obligations: he only has to say “Happy Valentine’s Day.”  This is because my birthday is only two days prior so we usually have a nice dinner out, etc. that day.  This is also because the first year we were dating, we decided to celebrate this holiday with a dinner out at a nice Italian restaurant in Chambersburg (a neighborhood in Trenton, NJ).  Reservations for 2 at 7:30pm, check.  We arrived and the place was wall to wall people.  It was like being in a hot bar at midnight (I am not an anchovy in a can!).  We also didn’t get seated until 8:30pm.  This was the beginning of the end of our Valentine’s Day celebrations.  Six years later, B decides that he wants to make me a feast for Valentine’s Day.  Let me tell you, he puts me to shame.  What follows are  the meals and pictures associated with said feast.   This is definitely not a diet friendly meal but worked for me since I’m in maintenance now.  Adjustments could be made for the sake of making the dish healthier (reduce butter, replace with something else) but I would be you would really lose something in terms of taste.  As the main reviewer of this meal, I can say that it made me think B needs a new career as a stay at home husband/personal chef.

Course 1: Arugula Salad with Broiled Goat Cheese and Crostini

Course 2: Seared Sea Scallops and Brown Butter Lobster Risotto

Course 3: Chocolate Souffle with Strawberry Sauce and Whipped Mascarpone Cream

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