Pumpkin Alfredo

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There’s this patient-slash-customer at the hospital that tells “everyone he meets” that our cafeteria is “the best restaurants in town”. His words, verbatim. Promise. This is…incredibly flattering. The man is in the cafe getting lunch most days of the week and it seems I bump into him every time I turn around the hospital campus. Lucky for me, he’s a very warm and enjoyable man. Bonus that he enjoys the healthy (and delicious!) food in our cafeteria.

Is now when I mention that I maned the ice cream sundae station when we were short staffed yesterday? True story. It was a good talking point to have the RD talk about moderation, right? Right.

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Ironically, also on the menu, was this reeeeally garlicky Alfredo Pasta Bake. I swear to you, people go NUTS for this dish. We add in onions, carrots, spinach, and enough alfredo and cheese to feed a small army. The nutrition stats on the item are grim…for the very small handful of patrons and employees that actually pause to glance at the nutrition information that gets calculated and posted each day.

It’s tasty, but perhaps…just perhaps, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

I love alfredo and cheese just as much as the next guy, but in the case of this pasta bake, less may be more.

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Maybe instead of heavy cream, for example, half and half and low fat milk could be used? Likely so. It worked in this recipe, anyways.

Despite the tease of summer this week, fall is here and consequently, I am enjoying finding ways to sneak pumpkin into my diet in every way possible (I don’t think I’m alone in this – Pumpkin Lasagna remains, to date, one of the more popular posts on my blog. Be kind about the pictures in that post…hard to believe it’s over 3 years old!), and dinner is no exception.

Pumpkin Alfredo is where it’s at. Bonus that this meal is ready in under 20 minutes!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Pumpkin Alfredo
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3
 
Lightened up fall comfort food at its finest!
Ingredients
  • 6 oz dry whole wheat pasta
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp ground sage
  • ½ cup 2% milk
  • ½ cup half and half
  • ¼ cup (1 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • ¼ tsp salt and black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring 1-2 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a small pot. Add pasta, stir, and cook for 10-12 minutes or until al dente. Drain and keep hot.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the shallot and cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened.
  3. Stir in the pumpkin and sage and stir for 30-60 seconds. Add the milk and half and half and stir well; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 4-5 minutes or until thickened and slightly reduced. Stir in cheese, salt and pepper, mixing well. Serve pumpkin alfredo over hot pasta.
Notes
Slightly adapted from I Was Born to Cook, Taste of Home Cooking, and originally, Food Network
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1¼ cup pasta with ½ cup alfredo Calories: 375 Fat: 14.3 Carbohydrates: 46.0 Sugar: 6.7 Sodium: 328 Fiber: 5.7 Protein: 16.7 Cholesterol: 32

 TGIF! Chili and football are on the weekend agenda! But first, the gym and work.

Be well,

sig4

Potato, Hatch Chile, and Chorizo Tacos

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I know I get grumpy about sub-par produce much of the year here in the Midwest. I mean, we’re not exactly in an ideal location for having the freshest and best tasting produce year-round.  However, we take for granted the fact that we can get so much most of the time.

A coconut in Michigan – no problem.

Decent pineapple in November – you got it.

A decent pear – sure.

Figs in December…maybe not.

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Point being, I can find just about anything. Any time. It may not be the best, but hey…it’s better than nothing.

But Hatch chiles? These were just a figment of my imagination until recently when my very diverse Meijer store happened to have some Hatch beauties just hanging out on the shelves. It was like I had found one of the very few foods I’ve never been able to find and if you saw me that day, I was ever so slightly jumping up and down with the biggest smile on my face. The rest of my grocery shopping trip was consumed with, “Now what do I make with these long sought-after chiles?”

Nearly a week passed and the chiles had simply moved from the store to my fridge and every time I opened the produce bin, I seemed to get less and less inspired. It got me thinking, who’s more underwhelming here, me or these Hatch chiles?

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The (very obvious) answer was me.

As soon as I paused to thumb through my 3-foot tall stack of recipes torn from various food magazines, this recipe jumped out at me. I swapped out the very ordinary poblano for these Hatch chiles and I must say, the mild spice was perfect (and hence the reason there’s more than 2x the number of chiles in my adapted version).

I thought I would catch a lot of heat (no pun intended) for serving potatoes in a taco, but the chorizo deterred such mention. After having potatoes in a taco recently at a tapas restaurant and now in this recipe, I am totally sold. The humble spud so belongs inside a tortilla for a little healthy and high fiber carb-on-carb action. Just sayin’…

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Potato, Hatch Chile, and Chorizo Tacos
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Serves: 7
 
This unique taco speaks to the spicy food lovers out there. The original recipe called for poblano peppers, but I swapped in the in-season Hatch chiles and mmm mmmm MMMM!
Ingredients
  • 5 Hatch chiles
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups potato, diced
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz raw Mexican chorizo, casings removed
  • 14 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 oz Manchego cheese, shredded
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
Instructions
  1. Preheat broiler to high or
  2. Place peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 5-6 minutes per side, flipping once, or until blackened on all sides. Alternately, char chiles over the flames of a gas range, carefully turning with heatproof tongs until charred on all sides. Place charred chiles in a paper bag; fold to close tightly. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel; seed, coarsely chop.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add potato; cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until potatoes are browned. Remove potato; place in a large bowl.
  4. Add onion to skillet and sprinkle with salt; cook 2-3 minutes or until translucent. Add chopped chiles, corn, cayenne, and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion mixture to potato.
  5. Add chorizo to skillet; cook 4-5 minutes, breaking up the pieces using a wooden spoon or spatula. Return potato mixture to pan and stir to combine; heat through.
  6. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, heat tortillas over medium-high heat directly on the eye of a burner for about 15 seconds on each side or until lightly charred. Arrange about ⅓ cup potato mixture in center of each tortilla; top with green onions and a pinch of cheese. Serve with lime wedges.
Notes
Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 tacos Calories: 376 Fat: 13.0 Carbohydrates: 50.4 Sugar: 4.4 Sodium: 427 Fiber: 7.9 Protein: 14.6 Cholesterol: 23.0

 TGIF! :-D I’m off to do 3 minute planks, burpees, and some other forms of torture at my 6am sculpt class ;)

P.S. It’s Friday the 13th. Glad I’m not too superstitious.

Be well,

sig4

Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi

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One of my employees, Kathy, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer back in April. She died on Tuesday morning. It has been a tough week.

I actually went to see Kathy last week on Friday. I was fairly certain she didn’t recognize me the entire visit – the drugs, the process…I just wasn’t sure, but she wasn’t the Kathy I knew. When it was time for me to head out, I reached to give her a hug, wrapped my arms around her, and she squeezed with all of her wasting skin and bones. She hugged me tight – cheek to cheek – for several moments.

Finally, she said, “I want to come back…I want to come back. Tell the girls I love them.”

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I had held myself together fairly well up to that point, but walking out, I was a blubbering mess. I have to assume she was telling me she wanted to come back to work, and to tell our department of all women that she loves them — we’re a tight group and so this is more than on par. Since these words were consistent with all of our previous conversations throughout her battle with cancer, I have to assume she knew who I was.

No, I know she knew who I was. And I’m so glad I was there for her in that moment because I will remember that heart-breaking, super emotional, loving moment for the rest of my life.

She will be missed. She is in peace. She would want us to smile in her honor and move on, sassy as ever…just as she always was herself. And we will, we certainly will. But it’s been a tough week.

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The highlight of this week was probably our parent-child cooking class last night. This group has been an absolute hoot. Two weeks ago, an 8-year-old deboned a chicken breast with his bare hands without any struggle. I was seriously impressed. I don’t know that I could debone a chicken breast with my bare hands without a struggle! The dude was fearless with his chicken!

Last night, we made this salmon pasta bake and I was truly doubting whether or not the families would 1. try the dish and 2. enjoy the dish. Much to my surprise, I had nothing to worry about. This group loves seafood, and for that…I am glad.

A fan of all things from the sea, shrimp are one of my favorite. Affordable, quick to thaw and cook, they’re extremely versatile, low in calories, and just plain’ol good. This lemon-pepper twist on a traditional scampi dish is quite the treat. Don’t skimp on the lemon…it’s what makes this dish!

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Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Serves: 4
 
Lightened up shrimp scampi with a lemon-pepper twist!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt, divided
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined raw shrimp
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Bring 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add orzo and cook 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Drain. Place orzo in a medium bowl. Stir in parsley and ¼ teaspoon salt; cover and keep warm.
  2. While orzo cooks, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Add half of shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan and add remaining shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer to plate.
  3. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in pan. Add garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in shrimp, lemon juice, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done; toss with orzo and serve hot.
Notes
Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ recipe Calories: 400 Fat: 11.3 Carbohydrates: 44.8 Sugar: 1.2 Sodium: 460 Fiber: 2.3 Protein: 30.0 Cholesterol: 150

Busy day…off I go!

Be well,

sig4

20-Minute Chicken Enchiladas + Weekly Menu

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I’m all for advancements in technology.

The open road tolling transponder in my car that keeps me from stopping at every last toll in all of the Midwest states might be the best invention ever.

My cell phone is within arms reach…always. I don’t leave home without it. I do everything from take pictures on my phone to play my favorite radio stations from around the US to play Scrabble.

What did people do before DVR? I think the only reason I ever get on a treadmill is because I can catch up with my favorite shows…and fast forward through the commercials. The fact that you can rent movies from home with the push of a button? Super cool.

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I ordered take out last night…and I never had to talk to a person in an overly loud restaurant to do so. I was able to order everything online. When my dry cleaning is ready, I get an email.

When my reservation at my favorite pizza place in town is ready, I get a text message.

Google Wallet – super cool concept.

At the grocery store, however, I choose the check out lanes with an actual cashier…not the self checkout. My grocery store has speedy checkers that are much, much speedier than I.

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The night I made this recipe, I learned the beauty of the self checkout lanes, however.

I was driving home from work, talking to Kristen. I had to stop for a rotisserie chicken to make these killer enchiladas…but I wasn’t ready to get off the phone. I grabbed my chicken, and was out of the store after using self checkout in about 2 minutes. I’ve decided that rotisserie chickens should becomes a bigger staple ingredient in my cooking. So easy!

Typically, enchiladas are quite the chore to make…not so doable for a weeknight. These enchiladas? A true 20-minute meal. Maybe 22 if you include the rotisserie chicken run through the self checkout lane.

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5.0 from 1 reviews
20-Minute Chicken Enchiladas
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Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 7
 
Enchiladas....fast! But, not short on flavor!
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1½ Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ¾ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can no salt added tomato sauce
  • 15 oz (~3 cups) skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast, shredded
  • 1 (15 oz) can unsalted black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 oz (~3/4 cup) 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, shredded
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Combine the first 9 ingredients, onion through tomato sauce, in a medium saucepan; stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil over high heat; cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Reserve 1½ cups sauce mixture. Add chicken and beans to pan; cook 2 minutes or until chicken is heated through.
  3. Spoon about ¼ to ⅓ cup chicken mixture in center of each tortilla; roll up. Arrange tortillas, seam sides down, in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with reserved sauce and cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and sauce is bubbly. Top with tomato and cilantro. Serve hot.
Notes
Recipe from Cooking Light
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 enchiladas Calories: 375 Fat: 12.1 Carbohydrates: 42.1 Sugar: 6.4 Sodium: 603 Fiber: 8.9 Protein: 24.9 Cholesterol: 51

 Weekly Menu: August 4th – August 8th

Mr. Prevention is doing the half marathon portion of a 70.3 iron man today. Should be fun!

Be well,

sig4

Coriander Grilled Salmon with Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce

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Sunday evening, Mr. Prevention and I saw The Heat. I was really expecting a great movie, but we were both super underwhelmed. It wasn’t that the movie wasn’t funny, it was just so long. It seemed to drag on and on. Truth be told, we left with just a few minutes left in the movie.

In talking to my mom on Monday morning, she had seen the movie with my brother and dad and she raved that they all adored the movie and laughed hysterically throughout the entire thing.

A difference of opinion, no doubt.

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Movies are kind of like food. People rarely have the same opinion, expectation, or experience.

My brother loves American Pie and other “male humor” movies that are slightly inappropriate.

My mom…she’s hard to please with movies. I think there was a solid decade that went by without her truly singing the praises of ANY movie.

As for my dad, he normally falls asleep through movies and so his opinion can’t count for much.

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Food and cooking are a bit different.

The meals I choose have some serious expectations. Many of the recipes I prepare are from sources I trust or include photos I swoon over. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? And to be truthful, I’ve been underwhelmed with dinner ideas lately…kind of like movies.

As a lover of corainder, however, I had some serious expectations for this recipe. Anything grilled on a cedar plank after being marinaded in sweet honey, coriander, lemon, and paprika certainly fills me with high expectations. If you’ve never grilled on a cedar plank, hop to it! You’re missing out! Don’t skip the Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce, either…so very summery!

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Coriander Grilled Salmon with Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Cedar plank grilling creates a smoky, deep flavor that grilling fans adore.
Ingredients
Plank-Grilled Salmon:
  • 2 (12-inch) cedar planks (for grilling)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 6 skin-on salmon fillets (~6 oz each)
  • cilantro sprigs (for garnish)
Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce
  • 1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ⅛ tsp salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
Instructions
  1. Soak the cedar planks in a large pan of water to soak for at least 45-60 minutes before grilling.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, paprika, coriander, salt, and pepper. Place marinade and salmon in a large zip-top bag and store in refrigerator to marinate for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Arrange the salmon filets skin-side down on the soaked planks. Pour the remaining marinade in the dish into a small bowl and reserve. Transfer the planks to the preheated grill. Close the lid and cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until the salmon is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, brushing with reserved marinade about halfway through.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by whisking together all of the ingredients in a small bowl; refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. To serve, serve each salmon filet with a spoonful of sauce and cilantro, if desired.
Notes
Recipe slightly adapted from Crumb
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 filet with sauce Calories: 356 Fat: 12.2 Carbohydrates: 6.7 Sugar: 4.3 Sodium: 360 Fiber: 2.0 Protein: 52.3 Cholesterol: 125

A little Lily just because :)

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 Half way through the week. This is a long one, no?

Be well,

sig4