Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Pasta Salad

There is nothing that says Memorial Day more than a good old American barbecue. But chances are that barbecue will have plenty of chips, dip, and desserts, and very few vegetables. Pasta salad is the answer to this problem, it is a socially acceptable, well-liked side that you can pile on with vegetables and people will just think it's got great color! The trick is to make sure your pasta salad is healthy ;)

12 oz Pasta
1 Yellow Bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 medium cucumber, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup Brianna's New American Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

Cook the pasta and rinse it in a collander with cold water. Pour the prepared vegetables and pasta in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the salad dressing and Italian seasoning and mix well until the pasta is coated with dressing. Allow to "marinate" for at least an hour before serving.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Healthy Mac, Maryland Style

After a late night watching Food Network, I was inspired to try one of Ellie Krieger's Meal Makeovers!
Check out this Video, and Get Inspired!
First on the list was her "Macaroni and 4 Cheeses" - made with more than a pound of pureed butternut squash and low-fat milk. I stepped it up a notch by using whole wheat pasta, and using half the amount of bread crumb topping. 
After reading the reviews, I was concerned that the squash would overpower it, but after trying it, I thought there was a really great balance between subtle squash flavor and cheesy goodness. 
I served it with a sprinkle of Old Bay Seasoning for an extra kick, instead of the Cayenne Pepper that Ellie recommends. On the side, I had some fresh asparagus from the University Farmer's Market yesterday. It was absolutely delicious after I brushed it with olive oil, sprinkled on some parmesan cheese and roasted it under the broiler until soft.
Cooking spray
1 pound whole wheat elbow macaroni
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen pureed winter squash  OR 20 oz  (1.3 cans) canned butternut squash puree
2 cups 1% lowfat milk
2 cups Cheddar & Monterrey jack cheese blend, grated
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon powdered mustard
1 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
Old Bay (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender but firm, about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, place the frozen squash and milk into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the squash with a spoon until it is defrosted. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture is almost simmering, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the Cheddar, jack cheese, ricotta cheese, salt, mustard and cayenne pepper. Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish.
Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 3 minutes so the top is crisp and nicely browned.

Allergens: Wheat, gluten, milk
Nutrition (1/8 recipe): 366 calories, 10 g fat, 34 mg cholesterol, 208 mg sodium, 294 mg potassium, 51 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 20 g protein, 102% vitamin A, 18% vitamin C, 15% calcium, 3% iron

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Tortilla Pizza Face-Off Part II

The last of the Tortilla Pizzas are baking in my oven, and they look spectacular! I think scallions and tomatoes are the perfect toppings for these little gems, and they toasted up very nicely. I am even considering eating one for breakfast tomorrow morning so I don't have to wait til dinnertime to enjoy them! 

Of course, I always end up tweaking the recipe a little bit when I'm making it, mostly if I'm missing ingredients. This time, I left out the chopped onion that was meant to be mixed into the refried beans. Since I only used about half of the refried beans in the can, I'm glad I skipped that step. 
Also, since the recipe makes so many servings, I'm testing the stability of the pizzas in the freezer and in the fridge. I'm always looking for new delicious leftover foods!

Honey What's Cooking? Mexican Tortilla PizzaNumber of Servings: 4 
Serving Size: 1 pizza
Non-stick cooking spray
8 small yellow corn tortillas
1/2 can refried beans
1/4 cup water
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp taco seasoning
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup Mexican Cheese Blend

1. Preheat the oven at 400 degrees.
2. Line a tray with foil.
3. Place 2 tortillas on a flat surface and lightly spray/brush both sides of the tortilla with non-stick cooking spray
4. Place both tortillas on the foil tray.
5. Once the oven preheats, place the tortillas in the oven for 10 minutes – 5 minutes on each side
6. Empty the contents of the refried beans into a small pot.
7. Add a 1/4 cup of water.
8. Place the pot over a stove on low-heat.
9. Add the seasonings paprika and and taco seasoning.
10. Mix the beans. Wait a couple minutes and once heated thru, turn off the stove.
11. In the meantime, chop the veggies.
12. Check on the tortillas. DON’T TURN OFF THE STOVE. See how they are crispy once baked.
13. Spread a couple dollops of beans over the tortilla.
14. Top off with a thin layer of salsa.
15. Place the second piece of tortilla on top.
16. Spread salsa again – very little.
17. Top with scallions and tomatoes.
18. Top with cheese, make sure you get the sides.
19. Using a flat ladle place the Mexican Tortilla Pizza on the foiled tray.
20. Into the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned

Allergens: Soy & Wheat (Tortilla), Milk
Nutrition (1 pizza): 350 calories, 13 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 27 mg cholesterol, 823 mg sodium, 254 ,g potassium, 5 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 16 g protein, 15% vitamin A, 15% vitamin C, 27% calcium, 20% iron, 23% folate, 17% manganese, 12% niacin, 22% phosphorous, 18% riboflavin, 25% selenium, 22% thiamin

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Tortilla Pizza Face-Off Part I

I'm totally on a Mexican Food Kick these past couple months... Mexican Noodles, Mexican Pizza, Mexican Dip... but hey, I will always take advantage of an opportunity to use taco seasoning and tons of fresh vegetables! So when my work today brought me to the CDC recipe database - - I obviously chose the tortilla pizza to go in the cookbooks we are sending home with students next week after they visit the University Farmer's Market. 

And isn't it only fair that I try out some of these recipes first?  

And just to make this a little more interesting, I'm going to have a little nutrition face-off with a fellow blogger's Tortilla Pizza recipe - someone who "watches her weight" and tells us how her recipe is full of protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C. We will see about that! 

Skip below for recipes - I'm warning you, I might ramble a bit!

Honey What's Cooking Mexican Tortilla Pizza

Let's talk about this Pizza. It is made with two tortillas "glued" together with refried beans and a layer of salsa. These tortillas are toasted to perfection in the oven and then covered with more salsa, as well as scallions, tomatoes and cheese.
What about her nutrient claims? As far as protein is concerned, I think 18 g is great for a vegetarian dish, and it's all thanks to the beans. Fiber comes in at 7 g, a respectable amount which you could increase if you used whole wheat tortillas (I used white flour tortillas in the analysis because I can never find whole wheat in the grocery store, but go for it if you can find them). It is a good source of vitamin A & vitamin C and an excellent source of calcium. At 415 calories, this recipe is a perfectly reasonable portion - if you can eat just one!
This is terrible but true - I want to make this pizza recipe way more than CDC recipe because it looks delicious, and the other recipe has no picture. So, in an attempt to be logical, I'll do a nutritional comparison. After all, you can't fight the facts right?

Fruits & Veggies More Matters/ CDC Tortilla Pizza 

This recipe has a similar construction - two tortillas are stuck together and crisped up in a frying pan. Then the refried beans and taco sauce are spread on top, along with broccoli, mushrooms, peppers or whatever other vegetables you have around. Oh, and don't forget the cheese - .33 oz or 1/12 cup per pizza, which seems a little wimpy, not to mention hard to measure.  
The "pizza" is then put back in the frying pan until the cheese melts. I'm not quite sure why we are recommending frying tortillas instead of baking them, but I'm not in support of that particular cooking method. 
The facts speak for themselves though. Ringing in at 298 calories, this recipe has 6 g protein and 12 g fiber per serving. The lower amount of protein is probably due to the smaller portion of beans. The high fiber is definitely because of the 1/2 cup of random veggies you are adding. 
The other nutrients are kind of disappointing though - vitamin A is 8% lower in this recipe and calcium is 16% lower. Vitamin C is 36% higher, but I'm not so easily impressed by a little extra vitamin C.
On the plus side, it is much lower in saturated fat and has 250 mg less of sodium. 

But what has lots of saturated fat and sodium? Cheese, and that is one big difference between these two recipes. The first uses 1 oz of cheese, the second uses .33 oz of cheese.

I'll make one of them tomorrow and let you know about this cheese situation, it seems to be the root of all my problems.

Honey What's Cooking? Mexican Tortilla Pizza

Whole Wheat Tortillas – 8 medium tortillas (2 pieces for each pizza)
Canola Oil – very small amount to glaze both sides of the tortilla
Refried Black Beans – 1 (1 pound) can
Water – 1/4 cup
Onion – 1 small (diced)
Paprika – 1 tsp
Black Pepper – 1/4 tsp (or omit – you don’t really need it)
Ortega Taco Seasoning – 1 tsp
Scallions – 1 bunch (chopped)
Jalapeno – 1/2 a jalapeno (deseeded & finely chopped)
Tomato – 1 (chopped)
Whole Foods 365 Organic Salsa – enough to spread over the pizza
Mexican Cheese Blend – enough to cover the pizza …you can use reduced fat cheese

1. Preheat the oven at 400 degrees.
2. Line a tray with foil.
3. Place 2 tortillas on a flat surface and lightly glaze/brush both sides of the tortilla with Canola Oil.
4. Place both tortillas on the foil tray.
5. Once the oven preheats, place the tortillas in the oven for 10 minutes – 5 minutes on each side so they crisp up. You can add multiple tortillas if you have room.
6. In the meantime, make the beans. Empty the contents of the refried beans into a small pot.
7. Add a 1/4 cup of water.
8. Place the pot over a stove on low-heat.
9. In the meantime, chop an onion. Add the onion to the beans.
10. Add the seasonings – paprika, black pepper, and taco seasoning. I don’t think you will need salt.
11. Mix. Wait a couple minutes and once heated thru, turn off the stove.
12. In the meantime, chop the veggies.
13. Check on the tortillas. DON’T TURN OFF THE STOVE. See how they are crispy once baked.
14. Spread a couple dollops of beans over the tortilla.
15. Top off with very little salsa.
16. Spread.
17. Place the second piece of tortilla on top. Now top with salsa.
18. Spread salsa again – very little.
19. Top with scallions and tomatoes.
20. Add just about 1/2 to 1 tsp of deseeded jalapeno – see how much you can handle.
21. Top with cheese, make sure you get the sides.
22. Using a flat ladle place the Mexican Tortilla Pizza on the foiled tray.
23. Into the oven for 12 minutes – I like my cheese slightly browned.

Serving Size: makes 4 pizzas
Number of Servings: 4

Fruits & Veggies More Matters Tortilla Pizza
Recipe Summary:
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Number of Servings: 6
Cups of Fruits and Vegetables Per Person: 1.00

12 small corn or flour tortillas
Vegetable Oil or Margarine
1 (16oz) can refried beans
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 ounces fresh or canned green chili peppers, diced
6 Tbsp red taco sauce
3 cups chopped vegetables, such as broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, and bell peppers
1/2 cup (2oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Brush one side of each of two tortillas with water. Press the wet sides of the tortillas together to from a thick crust for the pizza. Brush the outside of the tortillas with a small amount of oil or margarine. Evenly brown both sides in a heated frying pan. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas. Set aside. Heat refried beans, chopped onion, and half of the diced chili peppers together in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Spread about 1/3 cup of the bean mixture on each tortilla pizza. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of taco sauce, then top with 1/2 cup of the chopped vegetables, 1 teaspoon of diced chili peppers, and 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese for each pizza. Return to frying pan and heat until cheese melts. Top with cilantro, if desired. Serve immediately.

Cinco de Mayo with Ellie Krieger, RD :)

So, I know I've talked about Ellie Krieger in the past, but I'm not sure I've ever actually made one of her recipes. She is the only Chef on the Food Network that is also a Registered Dietitian, and you know I am in support of that! This past Cinco de Mayo, I finally decided to make one of her recipes - a five-layer Mexican dip. It disappeared in the first twenty minutes of the party, and it was pretty easy to make. The only time-consuming part of the recipe was chopping up the veggies, but it was worth it!

And the best part about Ellie's recipes? She does the nutritional analysis for me :)

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon minced chipotle pepper in adobo
4 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups corn kernels (10-ounce box frozen corn)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 ripe avocados
4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion
1 tablespoon finely diced jalapeno pepper, optional
3/4 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until they soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.

Put half of the onion mixture into a food processor with the black beans, chipotle pepper, 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, cumin, water and salt. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

Add the corn to the skillet with the remaining onion mixture and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro leaves.

In a small bowl mash the avocado with the remaining lime juice. In a medium bowl toss together the tomatoes, scallion and jalapeno, if using. Season tomato mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spread the black bean dip into the bottom of an 8 by 8 glass baking or serving dish. Top with the corn mixture, spreading it out to form a single layer over the beans, repeat with the avocado, then the tomatoes. Top with cheese. Serve with baked chips.

Allergens: Milk
Nutrition (1/2 cup or 1/12 recipe): Calories 140; Total Fat 8 g; (Sat Fat 2 g, Mono Fat 3 g, Poly Fat 0.7 g) ; Protein 5g; Carb 16 g; Fiber 5g; Cholesterol 6mg; Sodium 245 mg