Friday, March 30, 2012

White Bean, Spinach, and Tomato Spaghetti with Oregano Roasted Shrimp

This pasta recipe is fresh, light, and elegant. I think shrimp adds an easy touch of sophistication to any recipe. I made this dish for my best friend to celebrate her new job in NYC. A bottle of champagne and a simple salad made for the perfect meal. This entertaining-friendly dish looks impressive, but it's so hard to mess up that you can enjoy your company as you cook.
1 tablespoon Olive Oil, divided
2 pounds Jumbo Shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
2 cups Grape Tomatoes
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 cups low-sodium Chicken Stock
Juice of one Lemon
Zest of one half Lemon
1 can White Beans, drained and rinsed
1 bag Fresh Spinach
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt, divided
6 ounces 100% Whole Wheat Spaghetti, cooked according to package instructions to al dente


Preaheat oven to 400 degrees. On a foil lined sheet pan toss Shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, oregano, and 1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil together. Spread shrimp out in an even layer. Bake Shrimp for 6 to 8 minutes, until just pink.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic to pan, cook for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, lemon juice and zest, white beans, and salt to pan. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until stock reduces to half, about 8 minutes. Add spinach and continue to cook and toss mixture until spinach is fully wilted. Add parmesan, cooked spaghetti, and shrimp to sauce. Toss and serve.

Servings: 4; 350 calories per serving
Make this dish vegetarian by omitting shrimp and using veggie stock instead of chicken stock.
You can use frozen shrimp in this dish. Just defrost in fridge no more than 1 day before cooking.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Creamy Avocado Chicken Salad

Whenever I go home to St. Louis I make sure to get the low-fat chicken salad from my favorite local lunch cafe. Now that I am no longer a student and my time at home is limited, I thought it was time to come up with my own mayo-free chicken salad recipe, one I wouldn't feel guilty about eating. Tangy fat-free yogurt and creamy avocado create a delicious and mild sauce, similar to the one I love from home. Pair this sauce with freshly roasted chicken, crunchy celery, and spicy green onion and you've got a delicious and healthy version of the luncheon classic.

1 to 1.25 pounds boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 cup mashed Avocado (approximately half of a small avocado)
1/4 cup non-fat Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup finley chopped Celery
1 tablespoon finely chopped Green Onion
Black Pepper and Additional Salt, to taste


Preaheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken breasts on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Bake chicken breasts for 25 minutes. Once cooked, allow chicken to cool slightly then either shred or dice the chicken into bite-size pieces. Refridgerate until completely cooled then add yogurt, avocado, celery, and green onion. Mix until completely combined. Add salt and black pepper to taste. For best result, refridgerate for an hour before serving.

Servings: 4 Serving Size: approximately a heaping 1/2 cup; 210 calories per serving
I sometimes like to add banana peppers for a little kick or grapes for some sweetness
Enjoy this chicken salad on it's own with a side of fruit, in a wrap, or club style on wheat bread with lettuce, tomato and turkey bacon

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spicy Chinese Beef and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

Nothing makes a night in front of the TV like greasy Chinese takeout, but  it's typically not the best choice when it comes to your health. My Spicy Beef and Mushroom Lettuce Wraps are easy and healthy, but taste simply sinful. Full of vegetables and flavored with ginger, garlic, and soy, you don't have to feel guilty about eating my version of Chinese takeout, and your taste buds won't miss a thing!

1 tablespoon Oil (either olive or canola)
2 medium Carrots, Peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
1 pound 96% lean Ground Beef
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated Ginger Root (peel first with a veggie peeler)
1 medium Red Bell Pepper, cored, seeded, diced (about 1.5 cups)
10 ounces Baby Bella Mushrooms, diced
1/4 cup chopped Scallions (plus more for garnish)
1/4 cup low-sodium Soy Sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha Sauce (depending on how spicy you like it)
Romaine Lettuce Leaves (kept as whole as possible)


Preaheat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add diced carrots and yellow onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ground beef to pan, breaking it up as it cooks with a spoon. After 5 minutes add salt, garlic, ginger, bell pepper, mushrooms, scallions, soy sauce, and Sriracha. Cook until veggies are tender and ground beef is cooked through, 5 to 10 more minutes.
Allow mixture to cool slightly. Fill lettuce leaves with beef mixture and garnish with scallions.

Servings: 4 Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups beef mixture and 3 lettuce leaves;  less than 250 calories per serving
Tip:  Prep all veggies before beginning cooking process....makes it so much easier.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Baked Caprese Stuffed Zucchini

My dad recently visited me in NYC, and we had an absolute blast eating our way through the city. One of my favorite dishes was the Caprese Salad from an Upper East Side Italian restaurant. It was the best Caprese Salad I have ever had and inspired me to come up with a unique twist on this simply delcicious first course. I use zucchini "boats" as the bed for a simple tomato-basil salad and then throw them in the oven to develop the fresh flavors even further. The whole dish is then topped with melty mozzarella. Sound good? I promise you will not be disappointed.  

2 large Zucchini
1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt, divided
1 1/2 pints Grape Tomatoes, each tomato quartered
1 cup packed Basil Leaves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 tablespoons) grated Parmesan Cheese
2 ounces Mozzarella Cheese, grated


Preaheat oven to 400 degrees.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the whole zucchinis to boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain immediately and cut each zucchini lengthwise. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the inside of each zucchini to form a boat shape. Be sure not to scoop to far and pierce the skin. Sprinkle each zucchini boat with 1/8 teaspoon of salt and transfer to a baking sheet.

In a mixing bowl combine the quartered grape tomatoes, remaining teaspoon of salt, basil, balsamic vinegar, and grated Parmesan. Mix until well combined. Fill each zucchini boat with a quarter of the tomato-basil mixture. place the boats close together. I ball up 2 pieces of aluminum foil and place on either side to be sure the boats don't fall over when baking. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top each boat with 1/2 ounce of Mozzarella. Continue baking for 10 to 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Servings: 4 Serving Size: 1 stuffed and cheese topped zucchini boat; 120 calories per serving