Be sure to check out my Happy Eats Healthy site to see upcoming classes, seminars, for more information on Health Coaching, nutrition information and more!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mexican Panzanella Salad with Roasted Poblano Vinaigrette

My favorite salad hands down is the classic Italian Panzanella salad. This salad is a match made in heaven of stale bread, mozzarella cheese, fresh garden tomatoes and cucumbers with a balsamic vinaigrette. But as much as I like it, to eat it every day would turn to a sad experience.

But what if I took the essence of that salad, the bread, and applied it to tortillas? Change out the cucumbers for raw tomatilla's, change the mozzarella cheese for queso fresco and play with a poblano dressing instead of balsamic?  It's a panzanella salad, just a Mexican version instead of Italian.

Using the tomatillo's raw give a nice crunchiness to the salad which in the original version comes from the cucumbers, but it also gives a fruity/tangy flavor that kicks up the salad. The roasted poblano vinaigrette brings a smoky, peppery flavor that plays off the the fresh oranges.

This may not replace the original panzanella as my favorite, but it's a great option and works nicely in the winter while waiting for the summer tomatoes.  It's a fat and happy version that works as a great side salad or a light lunch.

Tip and Techniques:  If you want to make this salad ahead of time, wait to add the tortilla's until you are ready to serve. Use gluten free tortillas for a GF options. To peel the tomatillo's, run them under water, this will help remove the outer brown paper skin and will help to remove the sticky surface left on them.

Mexican Panzanella Salad

1 orange
1 avocado
1 whole wheat tortilla (choose gluten free if preferred)
4 raw tomatillos, chopped
1/4 cup thin sliced red onion
2 ounces queso fresco (crumbling Mexican cheese)

Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut the tortilla in half, then in half again and then again ( you should end up with 8 pie-shaped pieces.) Place the tortilla pieces on a cookie sheet; bake until they are crispy.

Zest the orange for use in the dressing (recipe below). Cut the rind and all the white pith off of the orange, cut into segments over a bowl to help catch all the juices. Carefully slice the avocado in half and remove the pit, slice the avocado and add to the orange segments. Squeeze the lime over the avocado to help keep it from turning brown. Slice the red onion as thin as possible, add to the salad along with the cheese and tomatillos.

Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad, toss lightly. Break up the crispy tortillas and layer over the top. Enjoy.

Roasted Poblano Dressing

1 roasted poblano pepper
1 thumb of  fresh ginger (about 2 inches)
1 small shallot
zest of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbls red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbls honey
salt and pepper
up to 1/4 cup water

Roast the poblano pepper, remove the core and seeds, set aside. Chop the ginger and the shallot, cook over medium low heat with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil for 2 minute.

Place all the ingredients (except the water) in a blender, blend on high to combine. Add a few drizzles of water as needed to thin out the dressing and reach desired consistency. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Pizza Sauce

 Can you ever really say no to pizza? Dave can't. So when he asked for some 'za on Sunday night at 7pm, I had to come up with a really quick sauce. Um, sure, I could have picked up the phone and ordered a pizza...but that's not really my style.

This is a slightly sweet sauce with a perfect hint of heat that shines through even a heavy dosing of cheese.

Homemade pizza is at your fingertips with this super tasty, Fat and Happy pizza sauce!

Tips and techniques: If you're short on time, be creative - use French bread or a tortilla or purchase pre-made dough from your local grocer. If you have the time to let the dough rise, try my homemade thin crust pizza dough recipe.

Sweet and Spicy Pizza Sauce

1/2 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper, 1/2 tsp each
1 tbls dried oregano
pinch of sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1/8 - 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Saute the onions quickly in a drizzle of olive oil over high heat.  Let the edges of the onions almost turn brown.  Add in the garlic, dried oregano, sugar, salt and pepper, cook for just a minute. Add in the the water, crushed tomatoes and the cayenne pepper. 

Simmer all the ingredients until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.  Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Quinoa Lentil Meatballs in Tomatillo Sauce

Quick, name something that looks like a meatball, has the same protein as a meatball but doesn't have any meat in it...

Quinoa-lentil-balls. Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it? But these little babies are packed with nutrition and flavor! Both the quinoa and the lentils are loaded with protein, essential amino acids and vitamins; these aren't just veggie meat balls, they are super balls!

The simple tomatillo sauce takes these super veggieballs to the next level with a bursting roasted flavor.

Here's the deal, if you really need meat, add it. Use a little ground turkey, ground hamburger or even chorizo.  Dave needed meat so I added 4oz of chorizo to half of the dough for him. The key is you're still getting the nutrients from the quinoa and by cutting down the amount of meat used, it cuts out half of the fat.  All good things.

Remember, just because it looks like a meatball but isn't made with meat doesn't mean it isn't good- just different. And keep this super simple tomatillo sauce recipe, it could be a quick salsa or a sauce over rice and beans. Transform you meatballs into something a little fat and happy today!

Tips and techniques: This is a delicate mixture and rolling these balls takes a light hand, if you are having problems forming these into balls, simply form them into mini little patties instead.
To peel the tomatillo's, do this under running water.  It will make removing the outside paper easier and help to remove the stickiness that is left over after the paper is removed.

Tomatillo Sauce

15 tomatillos
1/2 white onion, chopped in quarters
3 cloves garlic
2 oz green chili's
1 cup broth

Turn the broiler on your oven to high. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil or parchment paper.  Peel the tomatillos and place them on the cookie sheet. Add the chopped onion and garlic cloves. Roast until all the veggies begin to turn to blacken.

Remove the sheet from the oven and place in a blender with the green chili's, add the broth slowly until desired consistency is reached. Add salt to taste.   

Quinoa Lentil Meatballs

1 cup quinoa
1 cup yellow lentils
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ancho chili or chili power
2 eggs
1/4 cup finely diced apples
2/3 cup bread crumbs (use gluten free bread crumbs to make this recipe gluten free)
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Make the lentils according to the package directions, half way through the cooking add the quinoa so that they will both be complete at the same time.

Add the cooked lentils and quinoa into a bowl, add all the remaining ingredients and mix well with your hands. Carefully roll small balls balls and set them aside. If you are having problems rolling the mixture into balls, just make small patties instead.

Heat a fry pan with a little Pam or canola oil, cook the quinoa meatballs until golden on each side. Add the tomatillo sauce to meatball pan, simmer to ensure everything is warm. Serve a couple of the veggieballs with a few spoons of the tomatillo sauce.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sandwich Series: Shredded Pork with Balsamic Onions and Apple Lemon Slaw

Sandwiches are all the rage, why else would Graham Elliot, Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless (among others) open simple sandwich shops?  And while I say these are simple sandwich shops, lets be honest - there was an extreme amount of planning that went into each mouthwatering handful as dutifully noted by the high prices!

With a large piece of pork begging for attention in my freezer but limited time to pay it proper attention, I dropped it in the crock pot for a day, thinking an idea would hit me later. Allowing cheaper cuts of meat simmer all day will render them tender and ready to use for a quick addition to many applications - a great addition to pasta, a topping for polenta, a lasagna layer, perfect filling for an omelet and a strata, toss with rice and beans for a quick salad or use in a sandwich.

In this sandwich, the sweet balsamic onions play off the tangy apple lemon slaw while the havarti brings a creaminess to entire bite. The great thing about pork is that the flavor is slightly salty and versatile enough to marry with these sweet, tart flavors.

Spending ten dollars on a sandwich is worth it sometimes, you probably can't afford to do that every day (I can't, anyway.) You don't have to. Invite your friends over, make amazing sandwiches at home and spend your money on a great beer or wine to wash it all down with. The Fat and Happy Sandwich Series is here for your tastebuds' enjoyment.

Tips and techniques: For the pork, see my posting for a classic crock pot pork. If havarti cheese isn't available, try Jarlsberg or a Swiss.

Sandwich Series: Shredded Pork with  Balsamic Onions and Apple Lemon Slaw Sandwich

4 cups cooked, shredded pork
1 green apple
2 lemons
2 ounces havarti cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbls grainy mustard
4 bread rolls
Salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic Onions
Saute onions and 1 tablespoon olive oil until the onions get deeply caramelized, have patience as this will take up to 15 minutes, add more olive oil if needed. Add in the balsamic vinegar and simmer 5 minutes to thicken the balsamic. Remove from heat, stir in the mustard and juice of 1/2 lemon, set aside until ready to use. Can do this step ahead of time, hold in the refrigerator until ready to use, warm over a small skillet adding in additional balsamic if the onions become dry

Apple Lemon Slaw
Slice the green apple in long, thin strips; I use a mandolin but this can be done by hand. Place the apples in a bowl, zest the lemon over the apple sticks and then squeeze all of the juice over the top. Toss well. This will give the apples a zesty zing while keeping them from turning brown.

Putting it all together
Warm the pork, place in an oven proof bowl, add a few drizzles of liquid (if the pork you are using does not have it's own liquid add in about 1/4 cup of broth or water) cover tightly and bake about 10 minutes until warm. If your pork needs more seasoning, now is the time.

Putting it all together:  Preheat a broiler to high.  Cut the bread rolls open and begin to layer the ingredients- place the shredded pork down first (roughly 1/2 - 1 cup of pork per sandwich depending on your meat to bun preference.) Add a layer of the balsamic onions, drizzling a little sauce as well, and then add 1/4 of the lemon apple slaw.  Cover the apple slaw with a few tablespoons of the shredded havarti. Brush the top half of the bun with the remaining olive oil.

Place both halves of each bun under the broiler (the top bun will get just a little crusty giving a great texture to the sandwich while the cheese will melt over the bottom half.  Remove from the broiler when the cheese melts, top each sandwich with the crusty top bread and enjoy.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chocolate Beet Mousse Torte with Golden Beet Reduction

 I didn't invent the idea of baking with vegetables; after all, zucchini bread and carrot cake have been around since the middle ages or something like that.  Yet somehow, beets in chocolate cake seem pretty far fetched. 

Think about it this way, beets become super sweet when they roast. And if you grate the beet fine enough, you wont even notice them in the torte. In fact, they add depth to the chocolate by giving a little hint of earthiness.

Now, a chocolate beet cake isn't exactly new either, but my torte twist reinvents this to an even more decadently dense and healthy dessert by eliminating the butter, The result is so rich, moist and mousse like, you'll only need a tiny piece. The golden beet sweet reduction sauce offers sweetness with a colorful punch of nutrients. Our ancestors knew something about vegetables- hide them in baked goods! Listen to your elders, you and your loved ones will be nutritiously  Fat and Happy with Chocolate Beet Mousse Torte.

Tips and Techniques: You can use red or yellow beets here, both will 'hide' in the chocolate and make a lovely colored reduction.

Chocolate Beet Mousse Torte with Golden Beet Reduction

2 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 egg
2 egg whites
1 Tbls sugar
2 Tbls cocoa powder
1/4 tsp coffee beans, ground super fine

1 cup beets, raw (2 small red or golden beets)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

Peel and clean the beet. Grate the beets using the finest grater available. Place the gated beets, water and sugar in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until the beets are completely tender.

In the meantime, whip the 2 egg whites with one tablespoon of sugar using electric hand beater or mixer, set aside.  Whip the one egg until pale and fluffy.

Melt the chocolate (either in a double broiler or in the microwave being careful not to burn it.) Add the one egg, the coffee grinds and the cocoa powder and mix.  Strain the beets, reserve the liquid, add beets and one tablespoon of the beet liquid to the chocolate, mix.

Gently fold in half of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the second half.  Pour batter into a buttered spring form pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. This torte is so moist you won't be able to test doneness with toothpick.  Lightly touch the top, if it doesn't leave a full dent, the cake is done.

While the cake is baking, place the reserved beet juice in small sauce pan, simmer until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes), set aside to cool.

Remove from the oven and cool. Remove the sides of the spring form pan. Drizzle each piece with the sweet beet sauce.  Add a dusting of powder sugar if desired by placing a few tablespoons into a sifter and lightly tap the sifter with the heel of your hand.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ginger Horseradish Skirt Steak with Sauteed Swiss Chard and Golden Beets

Wandering around the grocery store the other day, I just couldn't decide what I was hungry for. The Swiss chard looked so stunning- in the cart it went. But what to serve with it as I meandered past the meat counter....

My preference is to cook skirt steak on the barbecue, but I do have a cast iron skillet for the lonely Chicago winter months, it's a decent back up.  The skirt takes nicely to the ginger and horseradish marinade and cooks in minutes. And the little charred pieces of ginger and horseradish are like little croutons on top of the meat, yum! The whole meal was ready in less than 15 minutes (not including marinading time). 

It's real food and real flavors coming through without being overdone.  It's healthy, it's quick and tastes super. What's not fat and happy about that?

Tips and technique: I added some left over beet greens in with the Swiss chard, can't beat extra nutrients!

Ginger Horseradish Skirt Steak

2 cloves garlic
Fresh ginger, same size as the 2 garlic cloves
Fresh horseradish, same size as the 2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lb skirt steak
salt and pepper to taste

Make the marinade for the skirt steak first; chop the garlic, ginger and horseradish and place in a ziplock bag with the steak and the olive oil. Set in the fridge for at least 2 hours but up to 1 day before using. Take the steak out of the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to cooking to allow to come to room temperature.

Heat a grill to medium high (I used a cast iron pan on my stove top), cook the skirt steak for just about 3-4 minutes per side (timing will depend on how thick your steak is).  You don't want to over cook this. Remove the steak, cover with tin foil and let rest 10 minutes before cutting to help retain the juices. Slice thinly and enjoy.

Sauteed Swiss Chard and Beets

1 medium size golden beet, raw
1 cup sliced white onion
4 large Swiss chard leaves
3 beet green leaves
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbls olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the Swiss chard and beet greens, set aside. Cut the stem of the Swiss chard from the leaves and dice up. Cut the leaves into 2" slices. Slice the onion and dice the beet (peel the beet first). Add to a large saute pan with the chopped Swiss chard stems and olive oil, cook over medium heat until the beets and onion begin to soften (about 10 minutes)

Add in the garlic, Swiss chard and beet greens, toss. Add another drizzle of olive oil if the pan is getting too dry. Continue to cook for another few minutes to wilt the greens  Season with salt and pepper, enjoy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Prosciutto-wrapped Tilapia

 How many times have you had a simple fish fillet only to be left wanting more? I do like fish and I'm all for eating healthy, but that doesn't mean flavorless and unfilling.

Wrapping a healthy tilapia fillet with thinly sliced prosciutto delivers a so much flavor you won't be left feeling hungry and you're not tipping the scales with a lot of extra fat (just a tiny bit isn't a bad thing!) 

Lighter than bacon, the prosciutto salts the fish and becomes crispy while keeping the fish moist.  It takes a minute to wrap the fish and less than 10 to cook.  Quick, simple, healthy meals  - Fat and Happy has never been so easy!

Tips and techniques:  Pair this with a salad for a well rounded meal.

Prosciutto wrapped Tilapia

1 tilapia fillet
2 thin slices of prosciutto
olive oil
pepper and parsley
lemon wedge

Spray a fry pan with Pam and place over medium high heat. Gently wrap the fish fillet with the prosciutto trying to cover most of the fish, place in the hot pan seam side down. Cook on each side just a few minutes until the prosciutto starts to crisp.

Remove from pan, drizzle with olive oil, fresh black pepper and a pinch of fresh parsley. Enjoy with a lemon wedge.
Serves one.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Crispy Balsamic Onion and Goat Cheese Wraps

Meatless Mondays- this movement started as a goal to reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet. If you are not already doing this, you need to get on this bandwagon today! One day without meat will not hurt you, you will feel ever so slightly better and that doesn't suck.

 The balsamic caramelized onions have super deep flavor from the caramelization with a sweet overtone from the balsamic; then the tang of the goat cheese brings it all together. Yum. This is an easy lunch, snack or even a light dinner.

You can live without meat....if only for one day and it doesn't have to mean you only eat salad. Get on the Meatless Monday bandwagon, feel better, help reduce our carbon footprint and enjoy a Fat and Happy dish all at the same time; exciting!

Tips and Techniques:  If you are counting calories, use Pam or a very light drizzle of olive oil instead of butter to fry the wraps.

Balsamic Onion and Goat Cheese Wraps

1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
2 Tbls olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup goat cheese
egg roll wraps
1 tbls butter

Saute onions and olive oil until the onions get deeply caramelized, have patience as this will take up to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add in the balsamic vinegar. Let sit for 10 minutes or until you are ready to use.

Assemble the wraps- Add a scoop of the balsamic onions and a crumble of the goat cheese to one wonton wrapper. Fold up the bottom triangle, then fold in both sides and roll up. Use a little drop of water on the final edge to help seal.  Repeat.

Heat a fry pan, add the butter and the fully assembled onion and goat cheese wraps, seam side down. Cook until golden brown, flip and cook on the second side until golden brown.  Serve with a scoop of pickled vegetables.

Makes 4 wraps.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Chipotle Risotto

It's officially January and time for warm, hearty dishes. This chipotle risotto resembles the creaminess of traditional risotto but gets a pop of spiciness from the chipotle pepper.

These cold weather dishes can become a bit unhealthy with too much cheese and cream; using a risotto cooking method helps to keep the dish creamy and allows to keep the amount of cheese needed to a minimum. My secret add to this dish is red lentils, they tend to disappear and are hardly noticeable yet they offer a huge boost of protein and nutritional value.
Finding ways to be creative with hearty and creamy dishes with out losing flavor is key to helping stay on track with any New Years Resolutions. Stay out of the cold, turn on the fireplace and eat fat and happy without all the fat!

Tips and techniques:  To make this dish vegetarian, simply leave out the pork and use a vegetarian broth in place of the beef broth.

Chipotle Risotto

1/2 cup diced red onion
1 Tbls olive oil
1 cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red lentils
3/4 cup aborio rice
2 cups beef broth
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground paprika
1 -2 large chipotle peppers with sauce, chopped
1 cup chopped or shredded cooked pork (optional)
2 Tbls fresh oregano, chopped
2 Tbls fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup chihuahua cheese,shredded
3 Tbls fresh parsley, chopped

Add the olive oil, celery and onions to a soup-like pan, cook about 5 minutes over medium heat until they begin to just soften.

While that is cooking, place the beef broth and tomato sauce in a pan and heat. 
Add in the lentils, the aborio rice, the cumin and the paprika to the onion pan, stir often to avoid burning the rice, saute for about 2 minutes.

Add a cup of the hot broth to the rice mixture and stir. Cover with a lid and set the heat to medium low and allow to simmer until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, about 5 minutes.  Repeat with another cup of the hot broth, and then again with the final cup of broth, adding the chipotle peppers and the pork with the final cup of broth. .

Taste the rice, it should be al dente rather than hard and definately not soft. If needed, add another 1/2 cup of broth, you don't want the risotto to be dry.

Remove the pan from the heat; toss the cheese with the fresh oregano, thyme and parsley and add to the risotto. Cover and let the heat of the rice melt the cheese for about 3 minutes. Serve immediately with warm tortillas.


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