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Archive for the ‘Husband Cooks!’ Category

**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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As part of New Year’s Eve and day, B and I have a tradition to eat extremely decadent food to end and start the year on a good note.  For New Year’s Eve day, we made: Parmesan crusted goat cheese ball with basil oil (I didn’t strain the oil like she did in this recipe though); an arugula salad with cherries, gouda, and pralines with a dijon mustard dressing; and lobster ravioli (we used the fake lobster instead of steaming and cleaning them).  It started out as being a dinner I was going to make for B, but given my terrible time management, it ended up mostly a dinner made by B for me.  The goat cheese was great, nice and light and a good way to start the meal.

The arugula salad was also great.  The sweetness of the pralines and cherries with the sharpness of the gouda and dressing was great.  We actually used two types of gouda since I had gone to our local supermarket and B had gone to Whole Foods to get some herbs they didn’t have at the other supermarket.  We used smoked gouda (I got that) and a very aged gouda (B got that).  The aged gouda was different from anything I had ever seen; it was a hard cheese and was very similar to Parmesan. It was, however, absolutely delicious (but I’m a cheese girl).

The ravioli was the biggest endeavor.  We made the dough from scratch and rolled it out.  We tried to use our ravioli attachment but, alas, that was not meant to be.  For some reason we just cannot make ravioli.  They either don’t come out filled enough, get stuck in the machine, or are just off.  One of these days we’ll learn the trick.

For New Years day we planned to eat french onion soup and beer steamed mussels.  I spent most of the day curled in the fetal position on the couch due to the champagne and beer imbibed the night before so B enjoyed the soup day of (I had made it ahead of time) and made the mussels for us (I helped a bit since I had become more human by that point).  I calculated the Weight Watchers Points Plus for the soup; it made seven servings and were 3 PP per serving without the bread and gruyère cheese.

B said that this mussels recipe was the best we had made to this point.  We have previously made a fennel recipe and the standard one with white wine.  This was the first time we did it with beer.  The mussel’s recipe was built off of something online that we had found that I cannot find now (go figure).  It was very simple.  We basically did garlic, onion, chopped tomato, and beer to taste.  We also added some thyme since we had it leftover from the lobster ravioli.  We figured, its mussels, you can’t really go wrong.

All in all, a good end to 2011 and beginning to 2012, which will be very, very eventful for both B and I.

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B is a fantastic cook.  For all the reasons I love him and married him, after tasting this dish the fact that he is a fantastic cook was at the top of my list.

I was treated to a home cooked meal from B and the star of the show was this polenta.  He built off a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis and I thought it came out awesome.  It had the right balance of garlic (which may be a little garlicky for some, since we’re both big garlic fans) and feta.  It also had a great creamy quality to it that went very well with what he served with it (grilled tomatoes, onions, and marinated Greek chicken with a cucumber dill tzatziki sauce).

Enjoy!

Roasted Garlic and Feta Polenta
Makes 8 servings, 4 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving

1 tsp olive oil
1 bulb garlic, trimmed
2 tbsp reduce fat feta cheese (or to taste)
6 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400F.  Cut the top off a garlic bulb.  Place in tinfoil pouch and drizzle with olive oil.  Cover and roast in oven for 30-35 minutes or until garlic is soft.

In a heavy, large sauce pan, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the butter, and stir until melted.

Add roasted garlic and feta and mix well.  In a large Pyrex pan, spread out polenta and put in fridge for 1 hour or so to cool.  When polenta is cooled, slice and finish on grill, cooking approximately 5 minutes on each side.

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This is a healthier version of another dish that we had made in the past.  We were looking to make sure that we were not going crazy with the very “pointy” foods.  We had this as our dinner (about 2-3 servings each) and it was definitely enough.  It would also be great as a starter for another meal.  I was originally thinking of making the soup and having quesadillas or veggie and shrimp fajitas.  For a soup, it was also very quick and easy to put together (I should know; I watched while B cooked it). Enjoy!

Shrimp, Scallops, and Corn Tortilla Soup
7 servings (1 cup), 4 PointsPlus per serving (31 total)

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
14 1/2 oz. diced tomatoes (canned), drained
3 cups vegetable broth
8 oz.  canned clam juice
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 lb. shrimp
1/2 lb. bay scallops
14 tortilla chips (2 per serving)

Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan. Add bell pepper, cumin, oregano, garlic, jalapeno peppers, and tomatoes; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in broth and clam juice; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Add corn, scallops (thawed), shrimp (thawed); cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove from heat; stir in scallions, cilantro, lime juice, and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Crumble two tortilla chips over each serving.

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Yet again B come through!  He found and cooked this entire meal while I had the luxury of sitting back and enjoying the Steelers game (we all see who won here).  In all honesty though, it was the perfect meal for a lazy day on the couch watching football championships.  The Lentil Soup took some prep time but most of the time was spent just letting it simmer and the same is true of the bulgur salad.

There are few a adjustments we made to the recipes I’m posting below and a few changes I might make in the future.  First, for the soup.  We doubled all of the spices.  Even with that it was still somewhat lacking.  This recipe also calls for 1/4 C of olive oil.  Since B was making it he made the call to follow the recipe but now, when we make it in the future, we will cut that down to about 1 tbsp.  It was a lot of unnecessary calories since the vegetables all cook well in the soup mixture.

In terms of the salad, the only real change we made was we put in the  juice of half a lemon.  In the future, we would definitely reduce the amount of parsley that went in and maybe use mint instead of cilantro to get a more dynamic flavor.  The parsley was somewhat overpowering for my tastes.

The bulgur wheat I found in our friendly neighborhood supermarket.  I found it in the “Middle East” section and it was labeled as cracked wheat in English with “bulghur” in a english-arab concoction.

The servings sizes were kind of approximated.  The bulgur wheat salad made  more than 6 servings at a 1/2 cup each it may be more like 4 servings at 3/4 cup each.  For the soup, the recipe we built from said it was six servings, but we calculated that we made 9 1 cup servings.  Based on these guesses that is how I calculated the points.

This is a great dish for a cold day and when you’re craving something with a more Middle Eastern flare.  Enjoy!

Lentil Soup
9 servings (1 C), 5 PointsPlus per serving
Takes about 1 hr and 30 minutes total to prepare and cook.

1 large onion, chopped
1/4 C olive oil
4 stalks celery, shopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground basil
14.5 oz Crush Tomatoes, canned
2 cups dry lentils
8 cups water
1/2 cup spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 tbsp vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender.  Stir in garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and basil; cook for approx. 2 minutes.

Stir in lentils, add water and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour.  When ready to serve, stir in spinach and cook until it wilts.  Stir in vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add more vinegar is desired.

Warm Bulgur Salad
6 servings (approximately 1/2 C), 2 PointsPlus per serving
Approximately 45 minutes for cooking and preparation time

1 1/2 C Broccoli Florets, frozen
1/3 c parsley, chopped
1/4 C red onion, minced
1/4 C cilantro, chopped
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup Bulgur Wheat

In a medium saucepan, cook bulgur according to package directions.  Meanwhile, microwave broccoli florets in bowl with small amount of water until just barely tender, about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes.  Carefully transfer broccoli to colander to let drain.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and olive oil.  In a large bowl, place cooked hot bulgur. Lightly toss with fork to separate kernels.  with fork, mix in parsley, onion, and cilantro.  While tossing mixture lightly with fork, drizzle in juice-oil mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Sorry for the lack of witty entry into the previous and the rest of the posts for today.  Mostly this is just a “catch up” day where I’m putting in all the recipes that I have meant to enter for awhile.  This blog tends to be put up piecemeal so I’m trying to put these all up before I forget about them and the specifics of making the dishes.  The cans of the things we used (coconut milk and bamboo shoots) were just what was available at our local grocery store.  If you can’t find the specific brand it can likely be swapped out with another (so long as the coconut milk stays light) with little change the points plus value.

This meal is different than most of the others because B came up with it and did most of the cooking.  Although I’m the one doing the weight watchers stuff more stringently he is plugging along with me and helping to keep me going!

Tilapia in Red Curry Sauce
4 PointsPlus per serving, 4 servings

1/2 pound tilapia (I estimated, this was 4 thicker filets)
1 can “A Taste of Thai” Lite Coconut Milk (could also use a comparable coconut milk, the light part is key though)
1 tbsp “Thai Kitchen” Red curry paste
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 cup summer squash, quartered
1 cup sliced carrots
1 tbsp cilantro
1/2 can “Reese” Bamboo Shoots
1 tbsp “Sriracha” Chili Sauce

In a bowl, whisk together the coconut milk with the red curry paste and chili sauce.   Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Rinse and pat dry the fish.  Add vegetables (bell pepper, squash, carrots, and bamboo shoots)   into the pan and saute until they are soft (I used a few sprays of cooking spray to make sure they didn’t stick). Add the coconut milk mixture and heat on medium heat for approximately 5 minutes.  Place the fish into a pan.  Cover and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and flaky.  Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.

Orange Ginger Brown Rice
4 PointsPlus per serving, approximately 5 servings

1 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1 tsp orange zest
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 cups onions, diced
1 cup Vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Begin by sweating the onions in oil in a medium-sized pan until they are translucent.  Add the rice and saute for approximately 1 minute.  Add the orange zest and ginger and cook for another minute.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Cover the pan with a lid and cook over low heat for 45-50 minutes or until rice is tender.  Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

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