South Beach Dijon Pork Chops

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This is a Phase 2 South Beach recipe that I made last night.  It has great flavor and is super simple to prepare.  The zing of the mustard with the slight crunch of the browned bread crumbs was really nice.

South Beach Dijon Pork Chops

4-6 boneless pork chops
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp dijon, divided
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with tin foil.

Mix breadcrumbs, parmesan, butter and 1 tbsp dijon in a shallow bowl for dredging.

Rinse, dry and lightly season both sides of the pork chops.  Spread a thin layer of dijon mustard on one side of each pork chop and then dredge in breadcrumb bowl.  Spread remaining dijon on other side of each pork chop and dredge.  Place pork chops on baking sheet and pat remaining breadcrumb mixture on top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown.

South Beach Sirloin Tips with Red Wine and Mushroom Reduction

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oh hi there, blog.  :dusts off keyboard:

I have been busy with a newborn.  A refluxy newborn.  And maybe a colicky newborn. 

And then I started dieting.  After a c-section.  So you see I've been quite busy.  But I figured that while I'm still home (2 more weeks), and cooking diet-friendly food, I should share them while the baby is sleeping.  Shhhhhh.

South Beach Sirloin Tips with Red Wine and Mushroom Reduction

1.5 lbs beef sirloin tips, cubed
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 cup fresh tomatoes, pureed
3/4 cup good red wine (I used a Malbec)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
S&P to taste

Over medium heat, add olive oil and garlic to a medium sized skillet.  Allow garlic to become fragrant, about one minute.  Lightly season cubed beef with salt and pepper, and then add to skillet and brown, about 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate.

Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until meat is tender.

**Sirloin is a tougher cut of meat, but is also leaner, so less fat than other cuts of beef.  As such, it takes longer to soften.  Be patient.  I tried a few pieces along the way and was ready to dump this down the drain.  But then the baby started crying, Sydney wanted to play with a puzzle, my Mom needed something...etc.  You know how it goes...and when everyone sat down with a plate in front of them...they all marvelled at the flavor.  So, long story short - let this simmer a bit and the meat will definitely become more tender.  :)

Furniture Rehab: Henredon 70's Vintage Dresser goes Contemporary

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I am officially 5 days away from having my second child, and I did the unthinkable...

I brought home a 1970's Henredon Vintage Modern Dresser...and took on a new transformation:


What was I thinking?  Oh, so many things.  Possibilities.  Rehabbing. 

And here's how we did it.


Rustoleum Painter's Touch paint in Black Semigloss
2 small foam rollers
2 Fine Grit Sandpaper sponges
1 package Extra Fine Grit Sandpaper sheets
1 small angled synthetic bristle brush
1 small foam angled brush


I found this gem at Luckett's Store for $375.00.  This may seem steep, but the quality, size, contemporary transitional quality of it, and just the overall presence of the piece drew me in.  You could not come NEAR a piece this nice for under $800 - $1,000 in any retail store... 

All supplies listed above set me back a total of $29.00 at Home Depot, and I'm pretty sure that included a bag of M+M's and a small American Flag (for Sydney).


First we sanded down the entire piece, focusing especially on the top, where there were some water rings and other damage.  We used Fine Grit sanding sponges first, and then Extra Fine Grit sanding sheets to finish it off...  We went back over any spots or scratches in the original varnish that would show up through the paint.  Most of the sanding was just to rough up the varnish to hold the paint, but the final work was to get a really smooth finish.

Then we took a medium-sized mixing bowl and filled it with a little bit of dawn soap and water, and then wiped the whole piece clean, inside and out.  Making sure we got rid of all the dust and grime before moving it into the sun to dry.

Next we started applying paint with the foam rollers, using very light coats.  We coated the top and sides with several layers, and then moved to the front.  Much more ornate, we used the small rollers in the squares, and then the brush around all the corners, being careful not to have any drips.

We continued to add layers of paint, lightly and carefully.  Then we laid it on its back, and checked all angles for coverage in all corners, and around all nailheads and hinges.  This is where the small foam brush came in handy, it allowed us to really get in around the nailheads and trimwork for good solid coverage.

This is where we broke on Day 1.  It was getting dark in the garage, and we needed a fresh set of eyes to check coverage.

Day 2 brought new eyes (my Husband and Father in Law), and renewed energy (well, sort of.  I AM 39 weeks pregnant).

My Dad and I removed the central hardware and cleaned it up with a little gasoline and paper towels (to remove a little paint that had gotten under painters tape).  We painted where the hardware had been, and finalized all touch ups.  Finally, we replaced the hardware, and relocated all the pieces upstairs to the master bedroom.

As you can see, the side doors open from the outside with pocket handles that are hidden from front view.  They have removable/adjustable shelves which we might use for baskets of loose items, or the cable/DVD/DVR boxes that now reside on top.  The center doors have 3 large drawers on wooden runners, beautiful dovetail construction.

I didn't bother to paint the inside of the dresser/cabinet, and I'm glad.  I like the 2-tone quality of it and it doesn't feel unfinished to me at all.

Here it is with just the center doors open.

And here is the final product.  I couldn't be more pleased.

South Beach Turkey Swedish Meatballs

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Here's a yummy, healthy, easy dinner.  There is no breading, so this is very light but still full of flavor and juice.  This was hubby, kid and leftover (microwave reheatable) approved!

South Beach Turkey Swedish Meatballs

1 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup minced white onion
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup low fat sour cream
2 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp chopped parsley

Combine ground turkey, onion and spices, and roll into 1" meatballs.  In a nonstick skillet over med-high heat, add olive oil, and cook meatballs until browned, 2-3 minutes per side (6-8 minutes total), and then set aside.

In same skillet, add chicken broth and allow to reduce by half (about 5 minutes), then whisk in sour cream and let simmer for another 1-2 minutes.  Add parsley and stir to incorporate.

Plate meatballs with sauce overtop.

Chocolate Espresso Icebox Cake

Monday, May 30, 2011

With a name like that how could it be anything but divine?  Oh, and its super easy.  No bake, 15 minute prep....and a hefty payoff.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Espresso Icebox Cake

2 cups heavy cream
12 oz Mascarpone Cheese (sweet cream cheese)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Kahlua liqueur
2 tbsp unsweet cocoa powder
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 packages (8 oz) chocolate chip cookies (thin, crisp cookies)
Shaved semisweet chocolate

Whip first 7 ingredients together in electrix mixer, or with a hand mixer until the mixture forms stiff peaks.  Set aside.

In an 8-9" springform pan, arrange cookies flat, covering the bottom of the pan.  Then spread a thin layer of chocolate espresso cream.  Repeat the process until you have 5 layers, ending with cream on top.

Cover the pan with saran wrap and refridgerate for 24 hours (alternately, freeze for 3-4) and then pull out 20 minutes before serving.

Just before serving, use a warm kitchen knife and room temperature chocolate, gently shave chocolate into swirls, and dress top of cake.

I did not have a single complaint about this easy, decadent cake.  I will be repeating this one!!

French Lentils

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I got this recipe from a Williams-Sonoma cookbook that I have had for years.  It is the first lentil recipe that I've found that doesn't end up with "beat up" lentils afterwards.  I think it is the combination of boiling and sauteing that helps keep the integrity of the little lentils intact.

I made a few slight modifications to this recipe.  The original includes carrots as well, but I did not have those on hand, so I omitted.  Also, the receipe called for fresh thyme, but I used dried. 

French Lentils

1/3 cup fine diced red onion
1/3 cup fine diced celery
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup lentils
3 cups water
1 tsp dried thyme

In a mesh colander, rinse lentils.  Set lentils, thyme and water in a small saucepan on med-high heat until simmering.  Lower to medium, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile in a medium saute pan, add olive oil, onion and celery.  Saute until tender, then add butter and allow to melt.

Add cooked lentils to saute pan, and stir to incorporate, simmering for another 10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Simple Strawberry Sauce (or Sundae!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I always "knew" how to make a strawberry, or other fruit compote.  You cut up some fruit, add a little sugar, and simmer for a little while.  I think I forgot just how good it is...and how ridiculously simple it is to make.

This same recipe can be used for blueberries, apples, pears, you name it....and its sooo yummy over some vanilla ice cream.  Can you say summer time??

Simple Strawberry Sauce

1 crate (about 1 lb) of strawberries, stemmed, cored and cubed 1/4"
1-2 tsp splenda (sugar, stevia or other sweetener also works)

Simply add cubed strawberries to a small saucepan, and over medium heat, sprinkle with splenda.  Allow to simmer and thicken for 15-20 minutes.  Cool and serve over ice cream, cake, etc.  This also keeps very well in the fridge, so leftovers can be enjoyed for a week or so and are just as yummy cold...

Grandma's German Chocolate Cake

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This recipe was a hit at our easter dinner party.  Decadent, HUGE, and a combination of chocolate, pecans, coconut...and perfectly paired with vanilla ice cream and a little whipped cream.

Grandma's German Chocolate Cake

Coconut-Pecan Filling

3 cups sugar
3 sticks butter (unsalted)
3 cups evaporated milk
12 egg yolks, beaten
3 cups flaked sweetened coconut
3 cups chopped pecans (the smaller the pieces, the better the frosting adheres, I would do more of a mince)
3 tsp vanilla extract


2 1/3 cups AP Flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
1 1/2 cups strong coffee
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted

Filling:  Combine and stir together first four ingredients into saucepan, and cook over medium heat until thickened.  Cool for 20 minutes, then add coconut, pecans and vanilla.

Cake:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using 3 9-10" round cake pans, liberally apply softened butter to thinly coat inside and sides of pan, and then dust with flour to create a non-stick barrier between batter and baking pan.

Then, sift all dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl (first seven ingredients).

 Separately, whisk together eggs, buttermilk and coffee.  Then combine with dry ingredients, and stir to combine.  Lastly, add melted butter, and incorporate.

  Pour cake batter equally into 3 baking pans and then tap pans on counter to remove bubbles.  Bake 20-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out of middle of cake cleanly, with no batter attached.  Let cakes cook in pan for 10 minutes, and then invert onto cooling racks and allow to come to room temperature.

Assembly:  If cakes have rounded tops, carefully "level" them with a serrated or bread knife, and discard (or eat!).

** A nice and neat way to frost a cake is to lay two or three pieces of parchment or wax paper under the bottom layer of cake, on the plate or cake stand until frosting is complete.  Once cake is frosted, carefully and gently remove the paper to reveal a clean plate!

So, next I layed down 3 overlapping pieces of parchment under the bottom layer.

Then, with a thin spatula, spread an even layer of frosting on bottom layer, and then place second layer on top.  Do the same with the second layer, and add top layer of cake.  Add frosting to top and sides until even coat is achieved.  My nuts were heavier than I would have liked, so they tended to slide off the sides of the cake, but I noticed that as the frosting cooled and thickened completely - the frosting was easier to apply.



Feta and Oregano Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Saturday, April 9, 2011

This recipe is an adaptation of Chicken Chevre, with a greek twist.  I grow fresh oregano in my raised garden out back, and right now even in early spring, I have an abundance of it.  This is a really nice, juicy baked chicken recipe that can come together in a matter of minutes.

Feta and Oregano Stuffed Chicken Breasts

2-3 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
4-5 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves reserved
juice 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse and gently pull skin away from 3 of the 4 sides of the chicken breast, being careful not to detach the 4th side.  Pat chicken dry and move to a 9x12 glass baking dish.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil, and season outside and inside of the skin lightly with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile in a small mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients to create a stuffing.  Gently tuck the stuffing under the skin of the chicken, smoothing the skin overtop.  Finish with a light drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar overtop.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until internal temperature reads about 150.  Allow chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes, lightly covered with foil, the chicken will rise to about 160 degrees without drying the meat.

I served this alongside the Squash and Zucchini Salad.  It was a delicious variation of one of our all time favorites.

Marinated Squash and Zucchini Salad

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ok, I came upon this one by accident, but somehow the ever so thinly sliced discs of squash, zucchini and red onion were dying to be eaten we obliged.  And wow, were they yummy.

Marinated Squash and Zucchini Salad

1 yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 green zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

For this recipe, it is much easier to get the vegetables sliced thin using a simple hand mandoline, I have one like this that I picked up for a few dollars at the grocery store.  The vegetables should be so thin that they easily bend in half when held up between your fingers.  As thin as you can get them. 

Add the vegetables and garlic to a medium-sized mixing bowls, and then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Set aside for 20-30 minutes on your countertop.  This allows the vegetables to soften and mascerate slightly, and they should taste completely "cooked" and not crunchy.  These veggies were delicious alongside my Feta and Fresh Oregano Stuffed Chicken Breasts...which I will share shortly.

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Nick wanted Caesar Salad to accompany our handmade Veal Cannelloni last night, which I will post and share separately.  I went through every one of my favorite cookbooks and could NOT find a recipe for Caesar Dressing.  I was really surprised.  Then I turned to my Cooking Light cookbook and was pleasantly surprised.  This is a refreshing, easy, simply and zingy dressing that is light on fat, and heavy on flavor.

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing

6 tbsp light mayonaisse (I used Hellman's)
3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
1 1/2 tbsp anchovy paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Simply mix all ingredients together in a small bowl, and then refridgerate until serving.  I served this with a variety of Artisan Lettuces in green and purple with fresh shaved Parmesan Reggiano.  I topped the salads with Texas Toast Garlic Croutons.  Yumm!

Chicken Tortilla Soup (Crockpot)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

This recipe is so easy and just the ticket for a chilly day. 

Chicken Tortilla Soup (Crockpot)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped small
juice 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 can kernel corn, drained
1 can Rotel (tomatoes and chiles)
1 4 oz can diced green hatch chilis
48 oz or 6 cups chicken broth
1 bunch cilantro, stemmed and rough chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper (to season chicken)
2 tbsp olive oil


crushed tortilla chips per bowl
monterrey jack cheese
sour cream

Combine main list of ingredients in crockpot, and cook on high for 4-5 hours.  Remove chicken and shred, and return to pot.  Serve immediately, or set to low until ready to serve.  Alternately, cook on low for 7-8 hours (just enough time to set the crockpot and go to work!).

This recipe is on the spicy side, but the toppings do well to cut the heat, but still allow a nice spicey note at the end.  This will definitely make it into rotation at our house!

Chicken and White Bean Chili (Crockpot)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

This next recipe is a family favorite and was passed to me, after begging, via my husband's aunt.  It originally hails from a 2002 edition of Bon Appetit magazine, and I can certainly see how this recipe continues to be shared again and again, years after its original publishing date...

Chicken and White Bean Chili (Crockpot)

1 pound dried small white beans (I used navy beans)
16 oz. canned diced green chilis – mild, including liquid in can
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 large onions, chopped
1/3 cup all purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups half and half
4 cups shredded cooked chicken (See Easy Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon white pepper

1 cup sour cream
1 ½ cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
prepared green chili salsa
fine chopped red onion for garnish

Cook whole chicken in crockpot the day/night before, via instructions linked above.  Or otherwise cook/purchase chicken, and shred as desired.

Place beans in large pot or bowl with enough cold water to cover by at least 3 inches. Let stand overnight. Drain beans, return to pot. Add enough cold water to pot to cover beans by 3 inches. Simmer until beans are almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Drain well.

Note: You can do this all on the same day by following directions on package to boiling the beans and then letting them simmer.

Melt butter in clean heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until tender, about 15 minutes. Add flour and stir 5 minutes (do not brown). Gradually whisk in chicken broth and half and half. Simmer gently until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add reserved white beans and roasted chilies, shredded chicken, and next 5 ingredients. Simmer gently to blend flavors, about 20 minutes.

Note: At this point, you can add chili to your crockpot if you choose.  Set to low until just before serving, I left mine for 3-4 hours.

Add grated cheese and sour cream to chili; stir just until chili is heated through and cheese melts (do not boil). Ladle chili into bowls and garnish with cilantro, green salsa and chopped red onion. Serve.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Easy Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken

This is a really easy method for creating a rotisserie-style chicken in your crockpot at home.

Easy Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken

1 whole chicken (mine was about 5 lbs)
salt, pepper and garlic salt

6-8 tin foil sheets, crumpled into balls, about 2-3" in diameter

Rinse and pat chicken dry inside and out.  Season evenly with salt, pepper and garlic powder, on skin, inside cavity and under skin (if desired).

Set foil balls into base of crockpot.  Place chicken, breast side down, on top of foil balls.  (Foil balls elevate chicken so that the fat drains off, and meat is not saturated/mushy by the time its cooked).

Cook on high for 5-6 hours, or low for 8-9 hours.

Enjoy alongside your favorite side dishes.  I have also used this for shredded chicken that I needed for a Chili be shared later.

Yummy Beef Stroganoff

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I looked in my fridge last week and saw two lonely ribeye steaks staring back at me.  What was I going to do with them?  I didn't want to do a traditional steak and a potato.  So what...  What, what, to do??  I have no idea where the idea for Beef Stroganoff came from, but there it was in my head.  So I searched for a good recipe, that had most if not all of the ingredients I had on hand...

And I found a really yummy one, courtesy of Paula Deen...  How can you go wrong?

Beef Stroganoff

Here's what I used:

1.5 lbs cubed round steak (I cubed my ribeye steaks
All-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, sliced
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can beef broth
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
Salt and Pepper
Garlic Powder
1 cup sour cream
1 bag egg noodles

Here's what I did:

Set a large stock pot to boil with enough water to cook egg noodles.  Season water with salt once it reaches a boil.  Add noodles and cook until al dente.  Set aside.

Season the steak strips with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then dust with flour. In a large nonstick pan,  brown them on both sides in the olive oil and butter. Remove the steak from the pan. Add the onion slices and mushrooms to the pan drippings. Saute for a few minutes, until the onion is tender. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon flour. Put the steak back into the pan with the onion and mushrooms. Add the mushroom soup and beef broth. Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, covered. Adjust seasoning to taste, adding salt and pepper, as needed. Stir in the sour cream the last few minutes, right before you serve. Serve over cooked noodles.

This was a big hit.  For an extra burst of flavor, a little shredded parmeson on top is, how you say, magnifique.  ;)

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad

Saturday, January 1, 2011

This salad was a hit on Christmas day.  The Bosc pear with the Goat Cheese and simple, simple lemon viniagrette, tossed lightly with mixed greens was the perfect way to start our large family gathering.

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad

1 Bosc Pear, pitted, sliced thin wedges
6 oz plain goat cheese, crumbled small
1 head butter/bibb lettuce, or mixed mesclun
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
9 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

I'm a huge fan of the Costco mesclun mix, which includes several delicate varieties of lettuces, and also has a really nice color and texture variation.  If you can't find that, one to two small heads of delicate lettuce varieties work well (butter and bibb lettuce are two really nice options).

Rinse and spin or blot lettuce dry.  In a large serving/salad bowl, place lettuce.  If lettuce is in larger leaves, tear into 2-3" pieces for a more rustic presentation than chopping.  These smaller varieties of lettuce often don't require chopping, however, so if you can leave it in its original state - all the better. 

At this point, season lightly with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.  In a small bowl, combine fresh lemon juice with olive oil.  This should be a 1 to 3 ratio of lemon juice to olive oil.  Then add a little salt and pepper, and using a fork or small whisk, mix the dressing into an emulsion, whereby the lemon juice and olive oil are not separated but fully incorporated. 

Drizzle about 1/2 of the dressing over the lettuce, and toss lightly to incorporate.

Top salad with Bosc pear slices and crumbled goat cheese.  Serve remaining dressing on the side.  I also served extra cheese crumbles in a small ramekin so that my guests could further dress their salad.

This salad got high praises from all of the guests.  The subtle sweet of the pear against the acid of the lemon viniagrette and savory goat cheese was a really nice balance.

City 2 Burb, and all that it entails... Copyright © 2009 Designed by Ipietoon Blogger Template for Bie Blogger Template Vector by DaPino