March 30, 2009

Alton Brown's Roasted Edamame Salad

I love love LOVE this edamame salad. I just really don't know if I could ever get tired of it.

Half a cup of shelled edamame is 2 weight watchers points, and with some corn, tomato, scallions and a little bit of olive oil thrown in there, I estimate that that 3/4 cup of the salad is about 3 points. I keep frozen corn and shelled edamame around so that I can make this pretty easily on a whim. Try it, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Alton Brown's Roasted Edamame Salad:


  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen shelled edamame, about 2 cups
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels, about 2 ears of corn
  • 1/4 cup finely diced scallion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the edamame, corn, scallion, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper into a 13 by 9 metal pan and stir to combine. Place on the middle rack of the oven and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, just until the edamame begins to brown. Remove from the oven and place in the refrigerator until completely cool, approximately 30 minutes.

Add the tomato, basil and vinegar to the edamame mixture and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, as desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

My favorite roasted brussel sprouts

My mom has been making these roasted winter veggies for basically as long as I can remember. I believe she got the recipe from Southern Living, although I can't seem to find it online now.

The basics are brussel sprouts, whole baby carrots and pearl onions, roasted in the oven with some garlic, olive oil, rosemary and sage. I use all frozen vegetables, which I'm sure a lot of fancie foodies would sneer at, but it's the most convenient and frozen veggies are surprisingly good and just as nutritious. I usually just wing it when making these because I don't have the recipe written down, and it's all pretty hard to mess up. You put the frozen veggies (a bag of brussel sprouts, a bag of carrots, and a small bag of pearl onions) on a baking sheet, still frozen. Then coat them with a couple swirls of olive oil (probably 2 tablespoons) and sprinkle fresh chopped garlic, rosemary and sage. (I use dried rosemary and sage, but fresh garlic makes the difference here, so don't skimp.) Heat the oven to a high temperature - around 425, and cook for around 45 minutes to an hour. They'll take a long time to get roasted since they're frozen, although it may take a little less than an hour for some ovens. Just keep an eye on them! But, I like for them to get a little charred so leaving them in too long isn't often a problem.

If you're scared to "wing it" and want to follow a recipe, you can use this one I found at The Daily Green using fresh veggies. This one leaves out the herbs, so you'll have to add those for the extra flavor, but it's a good representation of the concept.

I make these vegetables all the time, and there is so much flavor in them that sometimes I just make a big bowl of them for dinner and I swear I'm eating garlic mashed potatoes. Ok, not really, but they're really tasty!

March 14, 2009

My Variations For a Receipe from Cooking Light

I've mentioned that I adore Cooking Light - especially after my beloved roommate gave me a subscription for Christmas. It's more stimulating than a cookbook, and they give you the nutrition facts at the end of each recipe so you can easily work them in to any diet plan.

In this month's iss
ue, they have a recipe for seared scallops over spinach with canellini beans. I wanted to try this recipe because I love wilted spinach, and scallops are ridiculously healthy for you. 2 oz of scallops (either 10 small or 4 large) are only 1 Weigh Watchers point. So here's the original (which I plan to make when my boyfriend comes to town in a week), but I've followed the recipe up with a few, lower-maintenance ideas for using the same ingredients that you might have on had.

The Original:
Seared Scallops with Warm Tucan Beans

I think this recipe looks amazing, and quickly earmarked the page I saw it on when I got my March 2009 issue of Cooking Light. I liked that you add beans to the wilted spinach, and the delicious broth you make to simmer the beans in with onion and garlic. They also give a great suggestion for making some grilled bread to soak up all the extra liquid too!

I had gotten home on time from work one day and was ready to try the recipe just for fun; I even had all of the ingredients, including the scallops which I had bought frozen from Trader Joes. After realizing that it takes a LONG time to thaw scallops (apparently you can't just defrost them in the microwave... what do I know about scallops?), I decided to go ahead and make the rest of the dish leaving out the scallops, and saving them for another time.

(Photo from Cooking Light)

An Easier Twist: Simple side dish of spinach and white beans
Yeah, so this "low maintenance" twist is now not near as exciting I know, but the spinach and beans... ahem.... warm Tuscan beans... were still delish, and I love veggie dishes that I can bring towork as a low-calorie snack during the day. You can definitely taste the white wine in the broth, but it's a refreshing flavor to cut the taste of the spinach on it's own. Without the flavor of the scallops in this solo act, you might want to kick up the amount of garlic. Plus, I just love garlic.

Wilting the spinach.....

Fabulous photography I know. Fortunately my stove top is the only place with good lighting in my entire apartment.
Please don't compare my photos to the beautiful one from Cooking Light above.

Using Leftovers: Pasta with spinach, beans, mushrooms and feta
I was craving pasta one night (shocker) and since I had some of the spinach mixture leftover, I thought it would be great over linguine, particularly since the mixture still had a lot of liquid to it. I also had some mushrooms in the the fridge that, admittedly I just threw in because I needed to use them before they went bad. It was easy enough to saute the mushrooms with a little bit of low-fat butter while I boiled the pasta.

I reheated the spinach leftovers in the microwave, and added it to the drained pasta and stirred in the mushrooms. I also had some crumbled fat-free feta on hand and tossed it in for a different flavor and for a little protein.

Overall I was pretty pleased with my impromptu dish! It was pretty tasty, and he beans and veggies added more to the bowl without increasing the amount of pasta. Also, I was proud I could take advantage of what was in the fridge last minute. This recessionista is trying not to waste food, ya know.The only tweak I would make for next time would be to ease up on the amount of mushrooms - I put it a pretty big carton since I was trying to use them all up, which was robably overkill.

March 9, 2009

So help me, I will never buy these almonds again

I cannot sop eating them. So when I found my hand inside a bag of cinnamon sugar almonds that my friend Erin had, I knew it was bad news.

Actually, I believe it was bad news when I was standing in front of them in the store saying to myself "hey, nuts are healthy - just get them Ashley, they're tasty."

A little over 24 hours later, they're all gone. Here is the culprit:

Note the empty bag. Also note the mocking tagline on said bag: "an irresistible snack" ... ugh

There are just some things I don't know how to control my portions with, one of which are nuts. I actually blame this on my nut allergy as a kid - all that deliciousness being withheld for 17 years and now I have to make up for lost time. I'm still allergic to walnuts, peanuts and pecans, but most others - particularly cashews and almonds - have been a weak spot ever since I first discovered I could have them.

Here's the thing: I should have known better. I know that as long as I can keep reaching my hand back in the bag for more, I will. Anytime you know you have a weakness for a food, don't buy it unless its in controlled portions. Unless you're addicted to carrot sticks, and then you just go ahead and chow down... freak. I'm sticking to these delicious almonds.

If you can practice some self control, feel free to buy these - they were delicious, and were about 3 weight watchers points for 1/4 a cup. But that's actually a pretty depressing amount when you realize you've eaten about 10 times the portion size.

Needless to say, I am convinced I will never buy these - or any tasty almonds - in a mass amount.

March 8, 2009

Some new things around the blog...

All five of my regular readers may have noticed that the design of this little blog has changed! Many thanks to Hannah Craner of Sherbet Blossom Designs for helping me out with this!

In the meantime, you'll notice some of my links and formatting may not be exactly right. For instance a lot of the navigation links above... err... well they aren't really navigating you anywhere yet.... ooops!

This will all get fixed eventually - many changes to come for sure!

Lentil Salad with Blue Cheese and Scallions

When I saw a pack of precooked lentils at Trader Joe's on Friday I remembered how good a cold lentil salad was that I had once from Breadline in D.C.

Lentils have a delicious meaty flavor to them already, but I decided I would try to make a salad out of them that would mimic the version I first had. It had been a while, but I believe the salad has crumbled feta and maybe red onion. In my version, I used reduced fat blue cheese and green onion, since I had just bought a big bunch while I was a the store. I am now obsessed with this snack, since it has a ton of flavor and is only 2 Weight Watchers points per half a cup!


(about 2.5 cups) lentils, cooked
1/4 - 1/3 cup reduced fat blue cheese crumbles.
1/3 cup sliced green onions
Salt to taste (I used a couple of pinches of Kosher)


Um, there really aren't directions. You just put it all together and enjoy... so it's really easy.

Half a cup of lentils are 2 Weight Watchers points, and 1/4 a cup of this light blue cheese was only 2 points. Since we didn't use much more of the cheese in the whole batch, the points per serving don't really go up on this. So half a cup of this mix would be a great snack during work for roughly 2 points. I'm probably going to kick the serving size up a bit for myself and portion out a cup's worth for 4 points so that it's more of a small, filling meal than a snack.

March 3, 2009

A recipe I've been meaning to try... Balsamic Roasted Green Beans

I adore roasted veggies, so I completely drooled over the picture of these roasted green beans with mushrooms, balsamic and parmesan when I saw Kalyn's post in January.

I actually just shared the recipe with a guy friend who was looking for a good side dish to make for a friend. He said they were tasty, so I can't wait to try them myself!

March 2, 2009

Easy Chicken Dijon (and some potatoes on the side...)

I found this recipe in the January / February 2009 issue of a Weight Watchers magazine (pg. 151 to be exact!).

It is a nice little (healthy) throwback to Shake 'n Bake (which I loooved growing up!). The baked breaded chicken is not only delicious on its own, but the mustard, oregano and thyme in the seasoning remind me of flavors in a delicious roasted chicken dish that an old college friend's native Greek mother used to make. Her version involved roasting whole chickens over potatoes - all marinated in lemon, olive oil, mustard and oregano. Her chicken was divine, but this recipe may just be a liiitttttle easier, and healthier too!

  • 2 lbs. chicken drumsticks, skinned.
  • 3 Tbsp. whole-grain dijon mustard. (don't stress folks, use whatever dijon you have around)
  • 2/3 cup panko, or any kind of bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried herbs (such as tarragon, thyme, or oregano.
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • Preheat the oven to 450. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and lightly spray with nonstick spray.
  • Brush the drumsticks with the mustard. Mix the bread crumbs, herbs, salt, and pepper in a large ziploc bag; add the drumsticks. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag; urn to coat the drumsticks.
  • Place the drumsticks on the prepared baking sheet and lightly spray with nonstick spray. Bake until browned, 35-40 minutes, spraying the drumsticks with nonstick spray halfway through the baking time.
  • Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.
Some Tweaks....
This is a great recipe - and already incredibly healthy. I just prefer boneless chicken breasts on average over drumsticks (unless it's really good, unhealthy, southern-style fried chicken of course!) But as a lady who is usually cooking for one, I typically only keep individually wrapped frozen chicken breasts on hand, knowing that I'll never make it through a whole pack of fresh chicken in a week on my own.
So I preferred to make this recipe with about 3-4 small boneless chicken breasts rather than the full version with drumsticks.

There's really nothing stopping you from making this recipe for one chicken breast at a time on a weeknight, but I made a couple so I could have leftovers throughout the week (best reheated in a toaster oven).

Boneless chicken breasts cooks faster, though - so make sure that you...
  • Lower the oven temperature to somewhere around 375 degrees.
  • Reduce the cooking time to around 20 minutes. (Although to be honest, I was winging it when I did it - just knowing I needed to reduce the time - so I think I baked them for around 20 minutes but keep an eye on them!
The recipe in the magazine says that 2 drumsticks are 4 weight watchers points, and since the program also estimates that a 3-point piece of chicken breast is about the size of your palm, I think it's safe to say one average-to-small chicken breast would be about 4 points too.

Use the mustard and herbs as a rub for roasted baby potatoes too....
I've actually used these flavors in the past (again - inspired by this one dish made by my old friend's Greek Goddess of a mother), rubbing them on these special small yukon gold potatoes that I get at the store (either Safeway, Harris Teeter).

Coating the potatoes with some mustard and a little bit of oil (although nonstick spray would take out the calories) and a little bit of salt, pepper, thyme and oregano makes the potatoes just as good as the chicken, and would be great served as a side. My boyfriend loved these potatoes when I made them once, so I can't wait to make him this chicken to go alongwith them!

(PS - if you go easy on the oil, these potatoes are pretty healthy too! The mustard and spices are zero points, so a small portion would round out this meal that would make even Lean Cuisine proud...)