Curried Couscous with Shallots and Winter Greens

Every year, mid January, I start craving summertime food. I long for tomatoes, and watermelons, and sweet peas and I want to grill everything. It’s my mini revolt against the fruit starved winter markets. If you’ve been reading my posts for the past week, you may have noticed my mini rebellion via grilled vegetarian dishes in the dead of winter. This dish nicely satiated my desire for something fresh and summery, and saved me from an always regrettable purchase of grainy out of season tomatoes. Curried couscous with wilted winter greens is a light but filling side dish with bold smoky flavors. It reminds me of summertime barbecues, and makes the most of fresh, beautiful and nutrient packed winter greens.

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Tandoori Paneer – Spicy Kebabs with Indian Cheese

Paneer is an Indian cheese with a firm texture, and a subtle milky taste. It’s non-melting, and this makes it a perfect candidate for marinating and grilling. The tangy, smoky and spicy tandoori style marinade penetrates the milky cheese, and the quick grill crisps the outside to perfection. These tasty kebabs are a beautiful vegetarian answer to barbecue. It doesn’t always have to be a carnivorous affair, though the tandoori marinade would taste just as amazing on chicken.

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Espresso Infused Meringue Cookies

At our place, we love coffee. Well, not coffee – espresso. It’s quite different you see, and really has more to do with the brewing than the roasting. A beautifully pulled shot of espresso will be rich and smooth, with a healthy layer of crema on top. The crema is my favorite part. Tiny espresso bubbles that dissolve on your tongue. That, is what these delicate meringue cookies reminded me of most. One bite into these cloud-like cookies, and you’ll have the flavors of toasted marshmallow and espresso dancing on your palate. They have a crispy exterior that dissolves on your tongue, and a soft but chewy middle.

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Lighter Chicken Saltimbocca Rollatini with Lemon Sage Pan Sauce

Chicken saltimbocca is one of my very favorite Italian dishes. The crispy but tender chicken, the salty bite of prosciutto, the earthy sage, buttery sauce….goodness! So much to love! Unfortunately, this delicious dish as prepared by our local Italian restaurants is just swimming in butter and olive oil (delicious, delicious butter and olive oil.) This dish mimics the flavor combination of a traditional saltimbocca, but with a tiny fraction of the calorie and fat content. It comes together quickly, looks beautiful, and tastes amazing.

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Kitchen Basics and Childhood Egos – Chunky Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is one of the first things I learned to make as a kid. My poor family suffered through so many over-salted, bitter tomato sauces, that they probably deserve some sort of commendation for their pain and suffering. I had a basic grasp of what made tomato sauce good, but my understanding stopped at garlic and salt. If it didn’t taste quite right, add more garlic and salt. I suppose if an eight year old makes you pasta in marinara, you smile and eat it. So here’s a big thank you to my family who ingested obscene amounts of salt for the sake of my fragile eight year old ego, and enthusiastically agreed with me when I insisted that it was “the best sauce ever.”

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Minted Paneer – Homemade Indian Farmer’s Cheese

Making cheese at home sounds daunting, difficult, and all of those other words we attach to things we would rather have someone else do for us. It’s true, making some cheese is insanely complex and requires a skill set I will most likely never possess. Paneer though, is something I can make. If you can boil things, you can make it too.

Paneer is a fresh cheese, popular in Indian and other South Asian cuisines. It’s non-melting, and completely vegetarian (Instead of using rennet to curdle like many other cheeses, it uses citrus juice or vinegar.) It has a subtle sweetness from the raw milk, and a lovely crumbly but springy texture. The taste is very similar to ricotta, and this versatile fromage will take on the flavors of any dish it is used in. This makes it a spectacular accompaniment to spicy curries. Little bites of milky cheese running through a spicy curry are a perfect respite for tingly taste buds. It’s a versatile cheese, and can even be marinated or grilled.

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Caprese Pizza Puffs – A Crowd Pleasing Finger Food

Inspiration struck for this recipe when I was trying to brainstorm some football, dude friendly, finger foods for the upcoming super bowl game. According to my husband, men don’t want to be eating frilly things on super bowl Sunday. You want something that you can hold in one hand, so as to use the other for pointing and yelling at the television. These little deconstructed pizza bites were my compromise. They still meet my “pretty” standard, but they taste like one bite pizzas with the freshness of fresh mozzarella and basil. Small, but substantial, and packed with flavor – these are the kind of appetizer I always hope will show up at cocktail parties. As much as I love chips and dip, you can eat your weight in them before your tummy feels satisfied….or at least I can.

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Grilled Eggplant Steaks with Spicy Hoisin and Balsamic Glaze

These simple grilled eggplant steaks were delicious. Cooking them on the grill enhanced their natural nutty flavor, and the spicy, tangy sauce made for a flavorful meal. The steaks cook up quickly and easily on the grill or inside on your grill pan. If you love eggplant, this is a recipe you’ll want to try.

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Portobello Pizza – Skinny Carb Craving Killer

If it hasn’t become painfully obvious at this point, I love pizza. Unfortunately, pizza doesn’t love me back so much. That doesn’t stop me from craving it daily, and looking longingly/lovingly/creepily through the glass of our local pizza shop on my way back from the gym every morning. (On my walk back, I pass by a pizza shop, a French bakery, and a macaron shop – Cruel!)   I would eat pizza every single day if I could, and am constantly trying out new recipes in the hope of making that pipe-dream a reality. With recipes like this – it’s totally possible.

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Skinny Apple Pie and Oat Spring Rolls with Apple Honey Dipping Sauce

I love apple pie. It’s easy to make,  tastes amazing and with a few modifications, doesn’t have to be a diet wrecker.  These little spring rolls are under one hundred calories (85!), and 1 gram of fat. If you didn’t know that ahead of time your taste buds would assume otherwise.

In my experience, it’s rare to find a dessert this tasty with a calorie count in the double digits – especially one that involves pastry. Eureka, my friends! Phyllo dough is the magic ingredient here. Instead of taking the traditional route of brushing each layer with melted butter, cooking spray was used in it’s stead. This simple swap cut a few hundred calories without sacrificing one bit of tasty goodness

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