Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lemon-Caper Chicken

  • 4 (5 oz.) thin sliced chicken breast cutlets
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tsp. whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp. capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • lemon twists, for garnish (optional)
Makes 4 Servings
  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then lightly coat with the flour, using about 1 teaspoon per breast.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned and cooked through but still juicy, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, cover, and keep warm.
  3. Add the shallot and capers to the skillet and cook over low heat, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the broth and lemon juice and cook, stirring, until incorporated and thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in the parsley and immediately pour the sauce over the chicken. Serve warm, garnished with lemon twists if you'd like.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. If you're thinking about ordering takeout, PUT DOWN THE PHONE! This upscale chicken dinner can be made in 20 minutes or less and it tastes better than what you'd get at a fast food joint or at a chain restaurant. Who doesn't love the flavor combinations of lemon, olive oil and capers? This is a great dinner that can be enjoyed any day of the week. You can also use onions in place of the shallot and add a little garlic to the dish as well. Also, you can use white wine if you don't have any chicken broth or a little of both for more flavor. I also highly recommend using Lemon or Garlic Infused Olive Oil from the Imperial Olive in Williamsburg, VA. For more info, visit www.TheImperialOlive.com. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups zucchini, small or medium sized, raw, grated
  • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • cooking spray
  • parchment paper
Makes 12 Servings (1 9-inch bread)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, spray again, and dust lightly with flour. Shake off excess flour.
  2. Combine the flours, sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Sift if necessary to remove lumps.
  3.  Combine eggs, yogurt, and vanilla. Add zucchini and chocolate chips. Gently mix into dry ingredients. Do not overmix.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.
Note: This recipe appears in the New Sonoma Cookbook. Who knew that zucchini and chocolate would make a delicious combination and be good for you? If you're a fan of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, you will like this dessert. Plus, you won't miss the creamy frosting. Spring is here and summer is approaching and this is the perfect treat to enjoy for breakfast, dessert or even as a light snack during the day. Heck, you won't miss the butter on this bread. You could even add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or almonds to the bread for an extra bit of crunch but it may affect the points value. You can also use shredded yellow squash in place of the zucchini and the chocolate bread will still be deliciously healthy. I also highly recommend using smaller loaf pans is you have them because you can always wrap them and freeze them or even give them as gifts.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup

  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 lbs. fresh tomatoes cored and coarsely chopped, or 3 (14.5-oz.) cans diced tomatoes
  • 12 cloves of garlic, minced (2 tbsp.)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 2 (14-oz.) cans chicken broth
  • 6 slices whole grain bread
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, shaved
Makes 6 Servings
  1. In a 4-quart Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Reserve 1 cup of the chopped fresh tomatoes or, if using canned tomatoes, reserve 1 can of tomatoes. Add remaining fresh tomatoes or undrained canned tomatoes, garlic, and crushed red pepper to hot oil in Dutch oven. Bring to boiling; reducing heat. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tomatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut or tear bread into 1-inch pieces. Place in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until toasted, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add zucchini; cook for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp-tender. Set aside.
  4. Transfer half of the tomato and broth mixture to a blender or food processor. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Repeat with remaining half of the mixture. Return all to the Dutch oven.
  5. If using canned tomatoes, drain the reserved can. Add reserved or canned tomatoes, the cooked zucchini, oregano and parsley to pureed mixture. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Heat through.
  6. Divide the soup among six soup bowls. Top with bread pieces; garnish with cheese.
Note: This recipe appears in the New Sonoma Cookbook. Sometimes a bowl of warm tomato soup is all you need to leave you satisfied.This soup is so deliciously rich you'll think there's cream in it. What makes this soup so rich and creamy is the pureed vegetables. The toasted bread gives the soup an extra kick of crunch. If you don't have any shaved Parmesan cheese, you can always used shredded Parmesan cheese and the soup will still be delicious. You can also toast the bread in a toaster and let them cool until you put them in the soup. The bread and the veggies will quickly fill you up. Since this is the Sonoma diet, the recommended wine to go with this dish would be Sauvignon blanc. Personally, I would drink any kind of  red or white wine with this soup because a glass of wine once in a while won't hurt you. One mouthful of this tomato soup and you'll never buy or eat canned  tomato soup from the store again.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mini Apple Tarts

  • 1 tbsp. trans-fat-free margarine
  • 2 medium red apples, peeled, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
  • 3 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp. agave nectar or 2 tsp. granular sugar substitute
  • 15 frozen mini phyllo shells, thawed
Makes 15 Mini Tarts (3 per serving)
  1. In a large skillet, melt the margarine over medium heat. Add the apples and cook, tossing frequently, until softened and golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese and agave nectar.
  3. Spoon the cream cheese mixture evenly into the tart shells. Top with the apples and serve.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet  Super Quick Cookbook. These quick and easy treats can be enjoyed as a snack anytime of the day. Even though the recipe does not call for you to bake the phyllo shells, I highly recommend baking the shells at 325 F for 5-7 minutes for that extra crunch. Agave nectar is a sweetener made from the juice of the Mexican agave cactus and it's available in grocery stores. If you don't have agave nectar, you can use honey and the tarts will still be delicious. I also highly recommend using Granny Smith apples for a more tart taste and adding a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg for a touch of flavor. They may look a little messy but they are delicious.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Overnight Oatmeal

  • 1 tbsp. trans-fat-free margarine
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1 cup chopped dried apples (3 ounces)
  • 3 tbsp. granular sugar substitute
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup skim or 1 % milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional)
Makes 8 (1-cup) Servings
  1. Using the margarine, grease the bottom and 2 inches up the sides of  the liner of a 2-quart electric slow cooker or grease a 2-quart baking dish that will fit into the slow cooker or grease a 2-quart baking dish that will fit into the slow cooker. If using a baking dish, add 1/2-inch of water to the liner of a cooker.
  2. Add oats, apples, sugar substitute, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to the liner or baking dish. Gently add 3 1/2 cups water, milk, and vanilla, but do not stir. Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.

Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. The prep time for this oatmeal is 20 minutes but it cooks low and slow. The end result is worth it. I used really juicy, tart Granny Smith apples in this oatmeal in place of the dried apples and the oatmeal was just as creamy. I also added some nutmeg and a little almond extract to give this oatmeal a little more flavor and it was worth it. This oatmeal can be made on the weekend and will get you through the week. Whatever you don't eat you can put the rest away in the fridge. When you want some, take out 1 cup, put it in a bowl, add a little milk and put it in the microwave for 1 minute and your oatmeal is ready. One bite of this oatmeal and you'll never buy processed oatmeal at the grocery store again. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Chicken Cutlets Puttanesca

  • 4 (5-oz.) thin-sliced chicken breast cutlets
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes with juice
  • 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus basil leaves for garnish
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Makes 4 Servings
  1. Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cutlets and cook until lightly browned and cooked through but still juicy, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.
  3. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juice, olives, capers, and pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the chopped basil and lemon juice. Return the chicken to the pan briefly just to reheat. Serve the chicken hot with the puttanesca sauce on top, garnished with basil leaves.
Note: This recipe appears in the South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. You can enjoy restaurant quality Italian food at home for a fraction of the price and  in 30 minutes or less. Puttanesca sauce is not like your typical prepared tomato sauce you get at the store. Puttanesca sauce is a tomato sauce that contains garlic, olives and capers and gives the sauce an extra kick of zing. One taste of this sauce and it will quickly become a favorite and you'll never buy prepared tomato sauce a again. This meal is also a great way to kick-start your lifestyle and if you fall off the wagon temporarily, this dish is a great way to get back on track.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

  • 1 cup basil, packed
  • 8.5 oz. sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Makes 1 cup, 16 Servings (1 tablespoon per serving)
  1. Heat a small pot of water to a boil. While you water for the water to boil, set up an ice bath in a medium-sized bowl. Fill the bowl three-quarters of the way with ice and add just enough water to top the ice.
  2. Place basil in boiling water, stir 15 seconds, and remove from water. Place in ice bath to cool. Remove as soon as basil cools.
  3. In a food processor with a blade, combine sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Pulse to a coarse puree. Pulse in Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Note: This recipe appears in the New Sonoma Cookbook. Sun-dried tomatoes are so good so the combinations of sun-dried tomatoes, basil and Parmesan cheese is so delicious. These ingredients literally look like and represent the country of Italy. You can use this condiment on sandwiches, flatbread, pastas, on top of a crostini, and on top of proteins such as chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, fish and even veal. Sun-dried tomatoes burst with flavor and this pesto will wake your taste buds up.