Grilled Caesar(ish) Salad

Friends, we are closing in quickly on my favorite time of year. I live in Memphis, TN, so sometimes it takes Fall a while to really settle in. I say that on an overcast, cloudy, chilly day – but yesterday, it was like 90 degrees.

I am one of the many who love me some Fall. And I’m not even a huge fan of the pumpkin spice craze. I say bring on the football, the foliage and the fire pits. I love the colors. I love the smells. And of course…the clothes.

However, before we get deep into sweater weather – there’s a glorious few weeks that I can squeeze in some good quality grilling time without feeling like I’m about to pass out from the heat. So before you consume too many Pumpkin Spice Lattes and bundle up in your scarves and furry boots, let’s enjoy this mild-tempered Mother Nature before she buries us in my least favorite task of raking leaves…

A few years ago, at a local establishment here in Memphis, the husband and I ordered a salad to start off our meal. It was not just a salad. It was a life-changing salad. Why? It kind of tasted like a cheeseburger…bizarre, right? No – it was just grilled! So obviously, I had to try this on my own. I’m not one to turn on a grill for 5 minutes of work, but I’d probably do it just for this salad. I made a simple Caesar-like dressing (embrace the Worcestershire sauce, it has anchovies in it so it gives that salty flavor – but you can always add the real deal!) and sprinkled shredded Parmesan on top. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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Buffalo Shrimp

I know, I know – “Another ‘buffalo’ recipe? This chick is cray – to the – z!”

You may be right. But you know what? I am okay with that!

Seriously, when the husband and I started losing weight – the one thing I said I couldn’t do was give up foods I love. I love buffalo anything and everything. But it usually comes deep-fried and loaded with butter. Nothing wrong with that, unless you’re trying to avoid fried food and excessive butter.

So I needed ways to curb my craving so I didn’t go on a crazy hot wing binge.

Enter a really easy and delicious buffalo-style shrimp. This is great with mashed potatoes (particularly blue cheese mashed potatoes) – buuut I didn’t have potatoes on hand so I just poured the shrimp on top of some whole wheat couscous! Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

Buffalo Shrimp (2 servings – 6 WW Points per serving)

8 oz. shrimp

1 Tbsp. white whole-wheat flour

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

3 Tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

Thaw your shrimp and remove tails if needed.

Mix together your flour, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and salt. Add to a small Ziploc bag and shake until combined.

Pat shrimp until slightly dry. Heat your oil in a medium to large skillet over medium heat.

Add your shrimp to Ziploc bag and seal, leaving some air. Toss until shrimp is coated with flour and seasoning mixture.

When oil is heated, add shrimp to the skillet. Cook for 3-5 minutes and then flip, cooking another 3-5 minutes. You should get a good golden brown color and a crisp coating on the shrimp.

In a small saucepan, melt your butter and whisk in hot sauce. If you don’t have a great heat tolerance, you can add some honey to tone it down a little (this would affect your points value).

Add shrimp to sauce and toss to coat.

Serve with potatoes, couscous, rice or just by itself and dig in!

Try this and you won’t question my buffalo-obsession any longer…

Promise!

Spicy Sauteed Triggerfish with a Lemon Wine Sauce

Happy Thursday everybody!

Normally, Thursday isn’t all that exciting – but this is the Thursday before a long weekend! While I might not have incredibly exciting plans, it’s still a long weekend. Which means next week is a short week.

Next week is also the final week of my husband’s incredibly demanding and strict study schedule. So on Saturday afternoon – I get him back. So I get to be excited that it’s Thursday!

Can I get an “amen”?

…crickets…

Okay then, moving right along!

So I know I have mentioned to you several times how much I love seafood. Well my parents discovered a great little place to get fresh seafood – a man and his wife drive up to Memphis each week from the Mississippi coast with a big trailer full of lots of good, fresh stuff. Even selections that are hard to find in grocery stores!

Well, my dad stopped by to grab some smoked tuna dip (Y-U-M) and the man was packing up to leave. So he just “donated” a few items to him. Fortunately for me, my parents were leaving town, so I inherited some fresh, delicious fish to play with.

Like Triggerfish. Crickets again? Exactly.

Now, it’s tough to find Triggerfish recipes out there. But I did read that it’s a meaty, rich fish – similar to Grouper, but with a buttery flavor, like Lobster.

So you know what that says to me? Butter. Wine. Capers.

Do we really need more in life? I honestly think I could eat capers out of the jar…oh wait, I already do. And wine…well, really people?

If you can’t find Triggerfish – I think that Grouper would be a great fish substitution for this recipe – perhaps adjusting for cooking time.

Now this is a little higher in WW points for the main dish (about 9 – guess-timating since I couldn’t locate nutritional info.), but I just paired it with a few slices of bread and some brown rice and it made for a light and luxurious weeknight meal.

Triggerfish with a Spicy Lemon-Wine Sauce (serves 2)

2 Triggerfish filets, about 6-7 oz. each (mine had skin on – so I left it and it was fine)

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce

4 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

1/4 cup white wine

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. capers

Heat 2 Tbsp. margarine in a large skillet over medium heat.

Salt and pepper your fillets. I scored the skin (just a few little superficial slices) to prevent curling.

Add fillets to melted butter and saute about 3-4 minutes, skin side up. Flip and sprinkle “meat” side with a few dashes Tabasco.

Cook another 3-4 minutes, and flip once more. Cook 2-3 more minutes until fish is cooked through and both sides have a light brown color. Set in a medium baking dish and add to oven on low heat to keep warm.

Add remaining margarine (if needed) to skillet and melt. Reduce heat to medium low.

Add white wine, garlic, caper and lemon juice.

Cook for about 2 minutes, until simmering lightly and sauce thickens a little.

Oh and if you have to open a whole bottle of white wine and don’t know what to do with some of the “excess” – I’m sure I can help you think of something…

Now, remove fish from oven. Plate your fish and pour sauce on top of each fillet.

 

Now, dig in! The rice and bread did a great job of soaking up the excess sauce…which was total yumminess…

Thanks Mom and Dad – next time you should get your new buddies to “donate” four fillets and maybe you’ll get a free dinner out of it…

Thanks for reading – and just a reminder, if you have tried any of the recipes on my blog, please leave me a comment with your raves/rants/thoughts – I’d love to hear feedback!

Potatoes, Po-Boys and Smokies…Oh My?

So I’m newly married (6 months is coming up quickly!) and I work full-time. The husband is in study mode, so I have a lot of just “me” time – both good and bad! I am loving having a blog as a great creative outlet and something to DO, but recently, it’s been hard to get into a rhythm. It’s been so nice out – so some days I want to come home, sit outside with a glass of wine and read cookbooks instead of, well, actually cooking. Sometimes, the day just takes a toll on me and I’m exhausted by the time I get home!

I guess my point is – yes, there are some days where cooking doesn’t seem like a delight to me – but a chore. I get tired. I get lazy. I get frustrated. And I love to cook!

Usually, these days come after several back to back days of recipes and meals that dirty up lots of dishes. I seriously love all of my new pots, pans and knives – but I hate having to hand wash and dry them all. Why can’t everything be dishwasher safe?!

So this is the point in time when the whole diet thing could come crashing down. But luckily, I have back-up plans for when the thought of planning a three-course meal that uses 4 knives, 3 pots, 2 baking dishes (and a partridge in a pear tree) makes me cringe.

Exhibit A:

Baked Potatoes. It’s so easy to throw scrub a potato and throw it in the oven and find something to do for the hour and 15 minutes or so. Usually my potato includes some butter spray, fat-free cheddar, salt, pepper and barbecue sauce.

But a few weeks ago, I was dying for something spicy! So I decided to make a Buffalo Baked Potato. I added some spray butter, salt and pepper (the base of all my baked potatoes). Then I added some reduced fat blue cheese crumbles, hot sauce, celery, fat-free shredded mozzarella and more hot sauce! It was quite delicious.

Exhibit B:

Another easy thing to throw together that’s also filling is a hoagie of some sort.  Remember when I said I wanted to try to make a shrimp po’ boy with some easy faux fried shrimp? I did and it was delicious! I just sprayed some butter on the bread and sprinkled with garlic salt and baked for a few minutes before topping with shrimp, sauce and some lettuce.

Exhibit C:

Now this last one was just something I had to do. I was in Target last week (anybody else have to go to like, 3 stores to get everything they need? Reduced-fat and non-fat dairy products have me running around like a crazy person) and I noticed a new Jennie-O product. Turkey cocktail sausages/weenies. Or as my family knows and loves them “Smokies.”

I was talking to my Biffer this weekend while she was at the beach (so jealous) and she was up in the condo making lunch. I asked her what she was making and she said “Smokies!” I started salivating. I had to try the “diet” version…even though the husband kind of looked grossed out when I told him what “Smokie Sandwiches” were. Embrace it people, don’t fear it!

Heat your oven to 350.

So you take some smokies (I used 20 total) and cut them in half. Heat up a skillet with a few sprays of olive oil. Add the smokies and cook over medium for 5-7 minutes. Flip and cook another 5-7 minutes until they are all cooked through and have a nice dark color to them.

                                     

In the meantime, take 4 slices of rye bread (this was for 2 sandwiches) and lay them on a sheet of foil and place on a baking sheet. Take 2 slices of reduced-fat Swiss cheese and break into pieces, covering one half of each sandwich. Bake for 5-6 minutes until cheese melts. I added a little caraway seed since the bread didn’t have any.

Arrange your smokies on top of the cheese.

Spread spicy mustard on the top half of the sandwich…and maaaybe drizzle a little over the smokies.

Serve with some sauerkraut…I have to have mine on the side because I’m a weirdo. That, and I eat really slowly and hate my bread getting soggy. I know, I know I have issues.

So moral of the story? A meal doesn’t always have to be elaborate or take a ton of ingredients – but you don’t have to sacrifice healthy for quick/easy! Now THAT is Cooking on the Bright Side!

 

Creole Stew

So here in the fine city of Memphis, TN – the weather is getting glorious! I say this as I am sitting outside on my patio drinking a glass (okay, so it’s my second – rough day people!) of wine and soaking up what I don’t get to soak up being confined to a cubicle until 5pm.

Anywhoo – the weather is really making me want to get to grilling. However, Sunday was a bit of a dreary day. Dreary days make me want comfort food – like soup. I realized I hadn’t shared one of our favorite soups with you – although it’s more like a “stew.”

As I’ve mentioned before, my mom grew up on the coast of Mississippi and so I grew up learning to love fresh seafood and things like gumbo. While I do have a fabulous gumbo recipe I will eventually share (also weight watchers friendly) – sometimes, I just don’t have the time (or energy) to prepare the roux, chop lots of veggies and let something simmer for a few hours.

Enter this stew. I got the recipe from a co-worker of mine and it was easy enough to adapt and “healthify” – so if you’re looking for a little bit of Cajun flavor that’s easy to come by, look no further! It’s seriously so easy to make – the most time-consuming part is chopping a pepper and removing casing (I know, it can be gross) from the sausage! It could almost be considered a gumbo, without all of the tedious work!

Creole Stew (Serves 2-4)

I'm sorry my hideous outlet is always in the picture...perhaps we can come up with a name for him? (Or her - but it looks like a him to me!)

2 tsp. olive oil

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 tsp. minced garlic

6 oz. Jennie-O hot turkey sausage (2 links)

3/4 cup chicken broth

10 oz. diced tomatoes with chiles (1 can Ro-Tel is best)

15 oz. pinto beans, drained

8 oz. pre-cooked shrimp, tails removed

2 Tbsp. parsley

1 cup cooked white rice (I use Minute Rice)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat and add bell pepper and garlic. Saute 5-7 minutes, until pepper are tender.

Now, for the sausage – you will need to remove the casing. It seems really gross (as you can see below) but it’s pretty simple and quite frankly, it’s just easier to cook!

Break off little chunks of the sausage every 1/2 inch or so and add to the pan with the bell pepper and garlic.

Brown the sausage on all sides until cooked through.

Add your chicken broth.

Add your tomatoes (note – I only had some fire roasted tomatoes but they were a little sweet and the chunks were a little larger than I prefer – I’d stick with Ro-tel.)

Then add your drained and rinsed pinto beans.

Throw in your de-tailed shrimp on top.

Stir until everything is combined and reduce heat to low.

Cook for 15-20 minutes until simmering.

In the meantime…cook your rice. It’s called “Minute” rice for a reason – takes no time at all! Half a cup of water, half a cup of rice.

When the stew is ready, pour into your bowls and top with 1/4 cup rice per serving.

This makes 4 servings – but it’s 7 WW points per serving, so for a big dinner, you can go ahead and go back for seconds. Or save the rest for a delicious lunch the next day. Your co-workers will be very very jealous.

Hurry up and make this because I’m about to break out the grill – and you won’t want to miss those recipes!

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

So we may have gotten a little out of the habit the past few months, but I’ve started bringing back “Meatless Monday.” Just a little break to appreciate your fruits and veggies!

When we first started doing this, I relied heavily on black bean burgers. That’s not a bad thing – because they are delicious! A few months ago, I decided to make a vegetarian pizza – but I was allll out of pizza sauce. What’s a girl to do?

Um, use cheese. Duh.

I originally used Light Boursin cheese – which is oh so amazing. However, I had purchased  some of the Philadelphia cooking creme (used it in my pierogi recipe) so I decided to test it out. Verdict? You can’t lose. Honestly.

Shaved Asparagus Pizza (serves 2)

Wheat Crust

3/4 white wheat flour

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 Tbsp. honey

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. yeast

1/4 cup warm water

Mix together flour and salt. In a small bowl, add yeast, honey and olive oil to warm water and mix, then let sit 5-7 minutes. Add liquid to flour and mix until well blended. Cover and let rise 1-2 hours.

Topping

4 oz. shaved asparagus

1/4 cup Philadelphia Italian Herb and Cheese Cooking Creme, reduced fat

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, fat-free

Olive oil spray

Black pepper

Garlic salt

Italian herb seasoning

Preheat oven to 375.

Roll out your dough either into one large pizza, or two individual pizzas. (We like our own pizza for some reason!)

Spray each with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt and Italian herb seasoning.

Spread about 2 Tbsp. cooking creme on each pizza, just a light layer. This serves as your “sauce” – yes, that is as amazing as it sounds.

Next, add your shaved asparagus. To shave asparagus, you just need a basic veggie peeler. Peel the asparagus until it is in pretty little slivers and curls! You can add a lot more if you want because it cooks down!

Top asparagus with some cracked pepper, and then add mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, until crust is crispy and cheese has melted.

Slice and serve. This is such an easy dish to throw together – and I’m sure it would be great cut into multiple slivers and served as an appetizer!


Now try to tell me you even miss meat in this dish…

Cheddar Ale Chowder

I love soup – like seriously love soup. So many varieties. Some people think that soup is only good when it’s cold out – but I disagree. I think it’s good any time of year. It’s good for the soul…

You know what else is good any time of year? Well, I’m sure a lot of things – like shoe shopping. Or chocolate. But I’m thinking beer. In the Fall for watching football. In the Winter for celebrating the holidays with friends and family. In the Spring and Summer with baseball and outdoor festivals. Mmmm I can almost smell the Pronto Pups.

So mixing the flavor of a delicious ale into a soup was something I had to do. And heck, why not throw some vegetables in there. Okay okay, some cheddar cheese too.

Yes kids, I’m talking about a Cheddar Ale Chowder…that won’t kill your waistline in case you’re prepping for some time on the beach around the corner!

Cheddar Ale Chowder (serves 2)

1 1/2 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour

1/4 small onion, chopped

1/2 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

1 cup skim milk

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. dry mustard

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

6 fl. oz. beer

1/3 cup frozen corn kernels

3/4 cup diced potato, cooked

3/4 cup fat-free shredded cheddar cheese

1 slice turkey bacon, cooked

Spray a medium saucepan with non-stick spray and heat, melting margarine and add onions. Cook 3-5 minutes. Add milk and stir. Gradually add flour and whisk to blend. Continue to stir mixture until it begins to thicken.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add in Worcestershire, mustard, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Whisk and cook 5-7 minutes.

Now, pour in your beer. Oh no, you didn’t use it all? Whatever shall you do?! 😉

Stir in the beer. Now, add your corn and your (already cooked) potatoes. You don’t want to boil this enough to cook potatoes because of the milk – so cooked potatoes are a must.

Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Yes, your kitchen smells good right now.

Final step  – add the cheese. Stir it in until it’s melted, about 3-5 minutes.

Serve and add the bacon garnish…

…and maybe wash down with a cold beer, if you’re into that kind of thing!