Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cheesecake Factory is Hungry Girl-ed!

This week I joined Planet Fitness and am on the path to losing 2o pounds by the end of July.  I am doing Weight Watchers points for meals, and a great website for tips is   My favorite section is "Chew the Right Thing" where fattening dishes are made leaner without losing the taste.  So, tonight after my workout, I decided to "chew the right thing" and deconstruct my favorite Cheesecake Factory Salad: Barbeque Ranch Chicken Salad.

As you can see, it is filled with fattening avocado, fatty dressing, fried onion rings, and breaded chicken cutlet.  I love this salad, but am saying goodbye to the fat and hello to a version I made just as delicious!

I took romaine lettuce and added corn kernels and black beans that I rinsed first.  I also took a packet of Weight Watchers cheddar cheese and added some low fat bacon bits.  Instead of frying chicken, I simply baked white meat tenderloins using Shake-n-Bake for the crunch factor. Amazingly enough, there is such thing as fat free, sugar free, and calorie free Ranch dressing thanks to Walden Farms:

I omitted the avocado and onion rings...and didn't miss them at all!

Cheers to healthy eating!  

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Midnight Snacking!

The Prince gave me a Foreman to use for those nights when work has been long and I need to grill something fast and quick. This past week we decided to do burger night since I had leftover chili in the freezer to make chili cheese fries with (his brilliant suggestion!). Now, the Prince is a very particular burger I had to find a recipe that would appeal to his taste buds. I found a true winner from Recipezaar. You can make these on a Foreman or you can grill them! I would definitely add the bread to keep the patties together. This is one juicy burger! I had mine with a St. Francis Claret (see photo!). I made a "fixins" bar for us as well!


1 lb lean ground beef (I did use 80% because I had the Foreman)
1 small
onion, chopped (I used red onion)
1 slice bread, cubed

2 tablespoons ketchup

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons
prepared mustard (I used Jack Daniels mustard - so good)
1 teaspoon
worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

You know how to do the rest. :) You can freeze the meat into patties if you have leftover. Last night I made the Prince a midnight snack after pulling the meat out of the freezer! Mmmm!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Hearty Meal for a Fall Evening

The second night during our weekend getaway in Mattituck, I made a quintessential fall meal for me and the Prince: parmasean crusted chicken cutlets, potato gratin, and honeyed carrots. It was delicious with all the flavors complimenting one another well. Here are the recipes for the potatoes and carrots...enjoy with a nice, crisp beer!

Scalloped Potato Gratin (courtesy of Tyler Florence)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for broiling
(I used gruyere - its a better cheese for potato gratin!)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a saucepan, heat up the cream with a sprig of thyme, chopped garlic and nutmeg.
While cream is heating up, butter a casserole dish. Place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Remove cream from heat, then pour a little over the potatoes. Top with some grated Parmesan. Make 2 more layers. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Sprinkle some more Parmesan and broil until cheese browns, about 5 minutes.

Honey Glazed Carrots (courtesy of Sunny Anderson)
Kosher Salt
1 pound baby carrots
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add salt and then carrots and cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the carrots and add back to pan with butter, honey and lemon juice. Cook until a glaze coats the carrots, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley.

A Fork in the Ratatouille

This weekend the Prince and I had a lovely getaway on the North Fork of Long Island in Mattituck. I decided to cook both nights we stayed there, and the first night I made a light and delicious dish of Ratatouille with pasta, paired with a Simi Chardonnay. It came out well. The only issue was that I halved this recipe and there was still plenty of left over! I suggest halving it, unless you are having a large dinner party.

Ratatouille with Penne (courtesy of
2 eggplants (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 onions, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
coarse salt to taste
4 yellow squash (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (I used 1 can of plum tomatoes when I halved this, use 2 for this)
7 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 pounds penne rigate (with ridges) (I used cavatappi with ridges)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
Accompaniment: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 450°F. Stir together eggplants, onions, 1/4 cup oil, and kosher salt in a large roasting pan, then roast mixture in middle of oven, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Stir in squash, bell peppers, 2 tablespoons oil, and more kosher salt and roast mixture, stirring occasionally, until bell peppers are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. While vegetables are roasting, simmer tomatoes, garlic, thyme, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and kosher salt in a heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir tomatoes into roasted vegetables and season ratatouille. Cook penne rigate in a 6-qt. pot of boiling salted water until al dente and drain. While pasta is cooking, stir parsley and basil into ratatouille and season. Toss penne rigate with 1/3 of ratatouille and serve topped with cheese.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Comfort in a Can

I got really annoyed a month back when someone told my beloved Cookbook Junkie ( that real cooks don't use canned soup. Excuse me? Sometimes even the best of chef's are in the mood for a comforting casserole in classic American style! I made one for myself on this particular evening and it was delicious...

Comfort Casserole a la Amy

1 pound of medium sized shells, cooked in salted water al dente
1 can of Campbell's Cream of Broccoli Soup
1 soup can full of 2% lowfat milk
1 cup of diced ham
1 cup of frozen peas, thawed
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients into a casserole dish and cook at 350 degrees in the oven until hot and bubbly!

No debate here - it was good!

During the Vice Presidential Debate, I made my boyfriend and I a meal of lamb chops, green beans with onions, and Paula Deen's Oven Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic. The lamb chops marinated in olive oil, fresh minced garlic, and salt and pepper before I sauteed them in a pan. The green beans and onions were sauteed in some olive oil, salt, pepper, and then topped off with some hot sauce for a little kick. Here is the potato recipe - it was wonderful and perfect for an early autumn meal:

1 1/2 pounds small new red potatoes (about 15), scrubbed and dried
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed (I used 6)
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (I used fresh)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pare a narrow strip of peel from the middle of each potato. In a large bowl mix the oil, garlic, and rosemary; add the potatoes and toss well. Transfer the potatoes to a shallow baking pan and roast until potatoes are tender when tested with the tip of a knife. Serve hot.

Corn as high as an elephant's eye...

Jack eating butter dipped roasted corn at a local farm! These are the perfect Autumn moments!