Super Tasty Salsa Recipe

This is almost the last of the recipes from Doodle’s birthday party.

The menu was:

Guacamole, salsa, and corn chips

Green chile pinwheels

Roast beef, horseradish, and basil pinwheels

Deviled Eggs

And, of course, birthday cake

We love my deviled eggs – I’ll post that one soon, too.

Making everything except the corn chips from scratch enabled me to give my daughter a lovely party with lots of food for a small outlay. And she’d prefer homemade to store-bought any day!

And now, on to the salsa. It’s really simple and quick, and wayyy less expensive than store-bought salsa. It also tastes a lot better than store-bought.

2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
2 shallots, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons lime juice

Put the shallot, jalapeno, and garlic into the food processor bowl and pulse a few times until they’re chopped very small.  Add the cilantro and give it a whirl or two to chop the cilantro. Add the tomatoes, lime juice, and spices and pulse again until only slightly chunky.

Servings: 14

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 25 calories, 2 calories from fat, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 86.2mg sodium, 212.3mg potassium, 5.7g carbohydrates, 1.4g fiber, <1g sugar, 1.2g protein.

This keeps for awhile in the fridge, but you can also use freezer jars or ice cube trays to freeze it.  I don’t can, but I’m sure it would be wonderful canned, too.

Guacamole Recipe

Yesterday, I told you how to keep guacamole from turning brown, so today I thought I’d share how I make guacamole.

2 avocados
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon  kosher salt
1/4 cup salsa
1 small tomato, seeded and finely diced (optional)

Peel and seed the avocados. Mash them in a bowl – use your potato masher, or a fork. Add the salt, lime juice, and salsa, and mash a little more. Don’t mash it until it’s uniform, though – you want some small chunks. Stir in the tomatoes, if you’re using them.

Servings: 8

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 77 calories, 56 calories from fat, 6.7g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 170.2mg sodium, 274.8mg potassium, 5g carbohydrates, 3.2g fiber, <1g sugar, 1.1g protein.

You can spread this on your chicken or burgers, or put it in tacos or burritos, or (my favorite) just eat it with corn chips. It will make you a very popular person if you bring it to potlucks, too!

While not really low-calorie, it’s not that high either (but those chips usually are!) – and most of those calories come from good fats. This time of year, avocados are plentiful and really inexpensive, so I try to have guacamole often.

Keeping Guacamole from Going Brown

Sometimes, you just need to make everything ahead – it’s a potluck, or a kids’  party and you’ll be busy with other things later, or you just want to be relaxed at dinner time.

Guacamole is easy to make ahead (and even yummier, I think, if there’s been a chance for the flavors to meld), but if you just stick it in a container and put it in the fridge, the surface will turn an icky black-brown color. Acid helps, which is why most recipes call for lemon or lime (I much prefer lime in guacamole), but if you use enough to keep the guac from turning color, your dip may taste more like citrus than avocado!

The thing to do is put a piece of plastic wrap on top of the guacamole, and push it down so it’s touching the top of the dip, and then put it in the fridge.

 

This keeps the air from getting to the guacamole, and keeps it fresh and green. Now, guacamole won’t keep days and days – you’ll want to serve this within a few hours, really. But it will stay pretty!

(This also works for homemade or cooked-from-a-mix puddings, to keep the skin from forming. I kind of like the skin, though!)

Green Chile Roll-ups (or Pinwheels, or Rollers, or Whatever) Recipe

It’s been a crazy busy week so far this week! Sunday was Doodle’s actual birthday. The kids spent the day with their dad, since it was Father’s Day, too, and came home for dinner. In our family, the birthday kid gets to pick what they want for dinner, and Doodle picked Chicken with Shallots and  Buttered Noodles. It was tasty!

Today, we had a field trip with our homeschool group. It was a walking tour of our downtown. It was really interesting, and fun, too. If you live in a city, I highly recommend calling your city’s historic society and seeing if they give tours!

Here’s another recipe from Doodle’s birthday party last week.

8 oz. Neufchatel, brought to room temperature
1 can chopped green chiles
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 sun-dried tomato wraps or whole wheat tortillas

Mix the cheese, chiles, garlic, and salt. Spread on three tortillas and roll up tightly. Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-3 hours. Cut into 14 thin slices.

Servings: 14

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving of 3 pieces): 76 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5g total fat, 12.3mg cholesterol, 249.3mg sodium, 33.1mg potassium, 6.5g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 0g sugar, 2.7g protein.

Birthday Cake

I made yellow cake with chocolate chips again for Doodle’s birthday party last weekend. I was so grateful that it was a chilly, rainy weekend, so the house didn’t get too hot while I was baking!  I made the chocolate cream cheese icing again, too, but this time, I added a little espresso powder (about a tablespoon) for a mocha frosting. It was a hit.

I didn’t think the cake was very pretty, even though it was super-tasty, but Doodle and her best friend (who was staying with us last week – she flew in just for Doodle’s party!) thought it was very pretty.

Here are some pictures (I didn’t get to take a picture of it once sliced).

I’m not very good at writing on cakes, either!

I also got very lucky — after I put the aqua rosettes on the cake, I realized that the spaces left for candles in between the rosettes were exactly 16! Score!

 

 

Sage and Thyme Marinated Chicken Breasts Recipe

We love chicken! I don’t think there’s a way I ever cook chicken that my kids don’t clamor for more. This is one of the easiest ways to add lots of flavor and make chicken into something a little different from the everyday (not that regular ol’ chicken isn’t wonderful).

I am really looking forward to trying them on the grill, once we get one. Soon!

 

4 chicken breasts
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons chives, snipped
1 1/2 teaspoon parsley chopped
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspooon salt
1  teaspoon sugar
(Optional) 3/4 cup white wine or chicken broth

Either slice the chicken breasts in half, making two thin pieces out of each, or pound them thin.

2. In a large zip-top bag, mix the 1½  tablespoons olive oil, thyme, chives, parsley, sage, cayenne, salt, pepper, and sugar.  Add the chicken and mush around with your hands to cover all the pieces.  Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

3. Dry the chicken off with paper towels. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Spray with nonstick spray and put the chicken in. Do this in batches if you have a smaller frying pan. After the chicken browns on one side, turn it and let it brown on the other. Don’t overcook – the chicken should be thin enough to cook through by the time it’s brown on both sides.

4. (Optional) Remove the chicken breasts to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.  Add the white wine or chicken broth to the pan and use a spatula to pick up all the brown bits. Let the sauce simmer until reduced to a syrupy consistency. Spoon over the chicken.

Servings: 4

Nutrition Facts (without the pan sauce)
Nutrition (per serving): 311 calories, 72 calories from fat, 8.1g total fat, 136.9mg cholesterol, 1026.1mg sodium, 617mg potassium, 1.5g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.1g sugar, 54.6g protein.

If you’re curious about those side dishes in the picture, they are Cucumber, Onion and Dill Salad (we call it Primordial Ooze Salad, after a sauce I make for salmon), and Low-Calorie Smashed Potatoes. I’ll be putting those recipes up soon.

 

How to Comfort a Child with a Hurt Mouth

Since they were little, when any of my kids bump their mouths, or have a sore lip, instead of giving them an ice pack, I’ll hand them a popsicle. They get distracted from their pain by the sweetness, and they are more likely to keep ice on for longer when it’s flavored! (And bonus if it’s red – if they have any bleeding, they won’t notice the blood — and we all know that kids will start crying anew if they see blood!).

 

When we have them, we like to use our own frozen pops that we make with fruit and juice — then they are getting some vitamins and fiber with their treat.  But when we don’t, a pre-made popsicle will suffice.

I even still use this trick with my 15 year-old daughter, when she eats something particularly crunchy and cuts up her mouth.

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

For the most part, when I think of hot soup, I think of the winter and fall. But when I see all the beautiful vegetables in the produce section, I can’t help but think of chicken tortilla soup. And the heat (spicy-heat, not hot-heat) really does make you feel cooler.

In the winter, I frequently use canned tomatoes in soups, but this time of year, the tomatoes start looking better and better at the store. The farmer’s market near me opens in a week, and I’m sure those will be even better. Using fresh in this soup keeps it tasting summery.

2 corn tortillas
Nonstick spray
1 32-oz. box of non-fat chicken broth
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, sliced
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups corn kernals (frozen, canned, or fresh)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 avocado
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

Slice the corn tortillas into strips. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and spray with nonstick spray. Add the tortilla strips in batches, stirring gently until crispy. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer and add the chicken, onion, jalapeno, tomatoes, corn, garlic powder, and cumin. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and chop the avocado and toss with the lime juice.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top each serving with a few of the corn tortilla strips, a spoonful of the avocado, and a bit of the cilantro.

Servings: 8

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 168 calories, 41 calories from fat, 4.9g total fat, 34.2mg cholesterol, 609.2mg sodium, 524.4mg potassium, 16.2g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 3.2g sugar, 16.7g protein.

I love this soup. So did my kids, except the one who hates all soup and all tomatoes on principle. He had a quesadilla.

 

Low-Fat Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe

Low-fat potatoes au gratin? Okay, let’s say lower-fat instead.

One of my favorite parts of Easter dinner is ham with potatoes au gratin. My (former) usual potatoes au gratin came out to over 500 calories and 25 grams of fat per serving, though! And I’m too close to 30 pounds lost since my diagnosis on December 8 — and I really want to reach that milestone. Well, I want it, but not enough to forego au gratin potatoes altogether!

Luckily, I had stuff on hand to try to come up with a lower-fat version, and they were absolutely delicious at only 300 calories and 7.6 grams a serving. Okay, that’s a lot for a side dish in my world, but not so bad that I can’t have it for a treat. And since my boys don’t like potatoes, I’ve got two servings in the freezer for next time I want a bit of a splurge.

3 medium potatoes, sliced thinly
1 shallots, diced
2  tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 can evaporated milk
3/4 cup low-fat cheese

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray 4 ramekins with nonstick spray. Layer the potatoes and shallots in the ramekins, with a pinch of salt and pepper.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and then stir in the flour. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add the evaporated milk and stir constantly until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the cheese and stir until melted.

Pour the sauce over the potatoes and shallots in the ramekins.  Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.

Servings: 4

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving, according to Living Cookbook): 300 calories, 67 calories from fat, 7.6g total fat, 23.5mg cholesterol, 250.3mg sodium, 1013.9mg potassium, 42.3g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 12.2g sugar, 16.1g protein.

Goulash Recipe

This is a family staple – my mom used to make it (a little differently) when I was a kid, I make it for my kids, and my grown daughter makes it for herself and her boyfriend. I think we each put our own touch to it.

This is absolutely an Americanized version of goulash – it’s nothing like the Hungarian kind. I’m not even sure why we call it goulash, except for the paprika.  It does make a great budget-stretcher, though – I’ve made with as little as a quarter pound of meat and no one complained.

This also freezes well and makes terrific leftovers.

1 lb extra lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 Tbs paprika
1 tsp oregano
15 oz can crushed tomatoes
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 lb bite-sized pasta (I usually use shells or macaroni)

Brown the ground beef over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon while it cooks. Remove any grease with a spoon and blot the meat with a paper towel, or rinse the meat under hot water in a fine mesh strainer.  Return the meat to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic,  onion, paprika and oregano, and cook and stir until the vegetables are translucent.  Add both cans of tomatoes, stir, and reduce to a simmer.

While the sauce simmers, boil the pasta until done. Drain and mix with the sauce.

Servings: 8

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 225 calories, 95 calories from fat, 10.4g total fat, 39.1mg cholesterol, 179.6mg sodium, 559.2mg potassium, 19.6g carbohydrates, 3.3g fiber, <1g sugar, 14.5g protein.

Oh, and for a laugh: After dinner, the kids asked if they could have dessert, and I told them they could each have 3 small chocolates. And then I said, facetiously, “There’s more broccoli, if anyone wants that for dessert instead.”Both of my boys started to put their chocolate back! I let them have both.