weeknight gourmet

Posts Tagged ‘Cooking Light’

Dipping Delights: Baked Mozzarella Bites

IMG_0269Here is an easy and tasty snack or lunch for your little one!  Charlotte loves cheese sticks so I figured these mozzarella bites would be a hit.

To prep, simply cut up a piece of string cheese, dip into egg or egg substitute, and dredge in some toasted panko.  Then bake for just two minutes to soften the cheese (the recipe calls for three minutes but a few pieces melted too much).  Serve with some marinara for dipping.  What kid doesn’t like to dip?!

Everyone in the house loved them!  Tim and I gobbled up some leftover pieces and Angus ate one that hit the floor.

Baked Mozzarella Bites
Cooking Light

  • 1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 3 (1-ounce) sticks part-skim mozzarella string cheese
  • 3 tablespoons egg substitute
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup lower-sodium marinara sauce (such as McCutcheon’s)

Preheat oven to 425°.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup panko to pan, and cook for 2 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and place the panko in a shallow dish.

Cut mozzarella sticks into 1-inch pieces. Working with one piece at a time, dip cheese in egg substitute; dredge in panko. Place cheese on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 3 minutes or until the cheese is softened and thoroughly heated.

Pour the marinara sauce into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, stirring after 30 seconds. Serve with mozzarella pieces.

Enchilada Casserole

This Mexican-style lasagna will definitely be a crowd-pleaser.

You make a tomato-based sauce with taco seasoning that is similar to an enchilada sauce.  Whole wheat tortillas are layered with a beef mixture tossed in the enchilada sauce and then topped with pepper jack cheese.  YUM!  You can tone down the heat by using Monterey Jack cheese instead of pepper jack.

To lighten the dish, try using ground turkey instead of the sirloin.

I served the dish with avocado and some simply prepared black beans.  Judging by the leftovers (or lack thereof) I would say this recipe was a hit.

Enchilada Casserole
Cooking Light

  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon 40%-less-sodium taco seasoning mix (such as Old El Paso)
  • 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 4 (8-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas
  • 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and onion to pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring to crumble.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Sprinkle with flour; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add broth, taco seasoning, and tomato sauce to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 1/2 cups tomato mixture to beef mixture; reserve 1/2 cup tomato mixture.

Place 1 tortilla in a 9-inch pie plate. Top with 1 cup beef mixture. Repeat layers, ending with tortilla. Spread reserved tomato mixture over tortilla. Top with cheese. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Cool slightly. Cut into 4 wedges.

Cold Weather Cooking: Tortilla Meatball Soup

I know I was extolling the virtues of the Barefoot Contessa’s Tortilla Soup not that long ago but I think I love this meatball tortilla soup from Cooking Light even more!

The soup has so much flavor from the roasted jalapeños, roasted red peppers, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

Just a few notes: I used frozen corn I defrosted and then roasted.  I had some leftover Yukon gold potatoes so I used those rather than red-skinned potatoes.  Lastly, I used chicken stock which I think added some richness to the broth.  If you want to lighten the recipe, try ground dark turkey meat.

The soup was great the next day — I added a little more chicken stock to get a couple more bowls out of the leftovers.

The soup definitely is spicy so it is perfect for keeping you warm on frigid day like today!

Tortilla Meatball Soup
Cooking Light

  • 2 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 ears corn on the cob
  • 4 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups (3/4-inch) cubed red potatoes
  • 1 cup (1/2-inch-thick) slices carrot
  • 3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat broiler.

Cut jalapeños and bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Arrange corn on baking sheet with peppers. Broil 4 to 6 minutes or until blackened, turning corn once. Place peppers in a paper bag; fold to seal. Let stand 15 minutes; peel. Mince jalapeños, and coarsely chop bell pepper. Cut corn kernels from cobs. Set aside.

Place tortilla strips in a single layer on a baking sheet; lightly coat with cooking spray. Broil for 3 minutes or until golden brown, turning after 2 minutes. Set aside.

Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 garlic clove, panko, and the next 3 ingredients (through chipotle chile) in a large bowl, and gently mix until just combined. With moist hands, shape the meat mixture into 24 meatballs (about 2 tablespoons each).

Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add meatballs to pan; sauté for 8 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from pan. Add onion, potatoes, and carrot to pan; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 5 garlic cloves; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add peppers, broth, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender, stirring occasionally. Return meatballs to pan. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and corn; return to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes or until meatballs are done.

Ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with 4 teaspoons Monterey Jack cheese, 2 teaspoons cheddar cheese, and 4 teaspoons cilantro. Top evenly with tortilla strips.

Cooking with Baby: Five Spice Tilapia with Citrus Ponzu Sauce

by Weeknight Gourmet Guest Blogger Happy Farrow

As foodie who doesn’t go out to dinner nearly as much as I did before becoming a parent (sorry Jess and Tim!), I’m always looking for recipes that are simple and delicious.  This five spice tilapia recipe is one of my favorites.

The fish seasoning is flavorful, but not overpowering, and the citrus ponzu sauce makes boring white rice and steamed broccoli taste incredible.  I usually feel the need to make a few adjustments to Cooking Light recipes (e.g., adding twice the amount of cheese), but this one is perfect as is.

Five Spice Tilapia with Citrus Ponzu Sauce
Cooking Light, May 2006

  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon bottled ground fresh ginger (such as Spice World)
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil

Combine green onions, juices, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and ginger in a small bowl.

Combine five-spice powder, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle both sides of fish evenly with spice mixture.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from skillet, and serve with sauce.

Yield:  4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet and 1 tablespoon sauce)
CALORIES 217 (27% from fat); FAT 6.6g (sat 1.8g,mono 1.9g,poly 2.3g); PROTEIN 37g; CHOLESTEROL 125mg; CALCIUM 8mg; SODIUM 332mg; FIBER 0.2g; IRON 1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 3.1g

Happy is freelance designer (http://www.happyfarrow.com/index.html) and lives in Boston with her husband James and daughter Cecily.

Our First BBQ in NYC: Grilled Flank Steak with Avocado Relish

Tim and I have outdoor space in our new apartment! For those that don’t live in NYC, this is a rarity!   We’ve already tried to make our little patch of patio a bit more attractive with some plants and flowers.  Our bright orange patio chairs arrived and a table is on its way.  Of course, no outdoor space would be complete without a grill.  Gas grills are illegal in Manhattan so we ordered an old school Webber Kettle Grill.

The grill arrived Tuesday night and the rain abated yesterday afternoon so last night we christened the grill!  I had bought a flank steak the other day so we decided to give this Cooking Light recipe a whirl.

Just a couple of notes on the recipe, I used olive oil because I didn’t have avocado oil on hand.  I used two cloves of garlic in the marinade.  Next time I might use a touch more salt and some red pepper flakes as well.  For the avocado relish, I doubled the recipe because that was our only side dish.  I sprinkled some green Tabasco on my cooked steak which was a nice touch!

Even though we are not experience charcoal grillers and our technique has some room for improvement, there was something so fun and delicious about grilling in the middle of the West Village.  And, the avocado relish was a delicious companion to our first steak off the grill.

Tim at the grill with his sous chef Angus
Tim at the grill with his sous chef Angus


Grilled Flank Steak with Avocado Relish

Cooking Light, May 2009

  • 2 teaspoons grated lime rind, divided
  • 4 teaspoons avocado oil or fruity extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup diced peeled avocado
  • 1/2 cup chopped plum tomato
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper (about 1 small)
  • 4 lime wedges

Combine 1 teaspoon rind, 2 teaspoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and garlic in a small bowl.

Score a diamond pattern on both sides of steak. Rub both sides of steak with oil mixture. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours.

Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

Place steak on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.

Combine remaining 1 teaspoon rind, remaining 2 teaspoons oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, diced avocado, tomato, red onion, lime juice, and jalapeño pepper in a small bowl. Serve sliced steak with the relish and lime wedges.

Feta-tastic: Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

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Taste: ****
Difficulty: Easy
Cleanup: Quick

After a very busy weekend, I’m longing for a Mediterranean vacation but Mediterranean-flavored
turkey burgers will have to do!

This burger recipe in the new Cooking Light issue looked like it would packed with flavor from the pesto, garlic, red onion, and feta and it did not disappoint.

Goat Cheese & Roasted Corn Quesadillas

Taste: ****
Difficulty: Easy
Cleanup: Quick

Tim and I had a super tasty and incredibly easy dinner last night.  I had flagged this goat cheese quesadilla recipe in the most recent Cooking Light and decided that after a long Monday this was the perfect recipe to try, especially because I already had all of the ingredients in the kitchen.

A few minor changes…Since corn is not in season, I used frozen corn.  I just rinsed the kernels under warm water in a colander and then tossed them in a saute pan for about 5 minutes (longer than the recipes indicates).  One green onion didn’t seem like enough, so I chopped 3.  And, I had recently picked up a jar of Trade Joe’s Salsa Verde which was perfect for the recipe.

I was lucky enough to have a container of the delicious fresh goat cheese we buy in the Berkshires called Monterey Chevre.  The cheese is made locally at the Rawson Brook Farm in Monterey, MA, and distributed at many of the gourmet grocery stores and wine shops in the area.

I wanted to finish the tortillas in our fridge so I made two larger quesadillas with burrito-sized flour tortillas and one smaller quesadilla using two 6″ tortillas (as directed).  For the larger quesadillas, I put the filling on one half of the tortilla and folded the other half over.  Next time I will go with the burrito-sized tortillas, as it made a prettier quesadilla.

To cook the quesadillas, I used my double-length grill pan so I could cooked everything at once.

Lastly I served the quesadillas with some diced avocado, extra salsa verde, hot sauce, and a side of refried black beans (courtesy of Trader Joe’s).  Another satisfying vegetarian dinner!

Goat Cheese and Roasted Corn Quesadillas
Cooking Light

  • 1  cup  fresh corn kernels (about 1 large ear)
  • 2/3  cup  (5 ounces) goat cheese, softened
  • 8  (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1/4  cup  chopped green onions (about 1 green onion)
  • 10  tablespoon  bottled salsa verde, divided
  • Cooking spray

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn; sauté 2 minutes or until browned. Place corn in a small bowl. Add goat cheese to corn; stir until well blended. Divide corn mixture evenly among 4 tortillas; spread to within 1/4 inch of sides. Sprinkle each tortilla with 1 tablespoon green onions. Drizzle each with 1 1/2 teaspoons salsa; top with remaining 4 tortillas.

Heat pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place 2 quesadillas in pan; cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove from pan; keep warm. Wipe pan clean with paper towels; recoat with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges. Serve with remaining 8 tablespoons salsa.

Mediterranean Fish Stew

This super simple fish stew comes together quickly but tastes as if the broth has been simmering for hours.

A few notes on the recipe…

The second time I made it I used combination of halibut and salmon which gave the stew a much richer flavor than when made with halibut alone.  If you aren’t adept at skinning fish fillets (like me), they’ll do it for you at the fish counter which is a nice little time saver.

Use a very dainty pasta.  I couldn’t find small shells one of the times I made this recipe and used orecchiette.  The orecchiette was a bit too much and made this recipe more of a pasta dish than a stew.

The parmesan cheese adds a great finish to the stew.  And, it never hurts to have some good crusty bread on hand for dunking.

Mediterranean Fish Stew
Cooking Light

  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1/2  cup  finely chopped onion
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 2  cups  (1-inch) cut green beans (about 1/2 pound)
  • 1/3  cup  thinly sliced carrot
  • 2  (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  (15-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1  cup  uncooked medium seashell pasta
  • 2  tablespoons  finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1  tablespoon  finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2  tablespoons  tomato paste
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4  pound  skinless halibut fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4  cup  (1 ounce) shaved Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add green beans and next 4 ingredients (through tomatoes); bring to a boil. Add pasta. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes or until pasta is tender.

2. Stir in basil, oregano, tomato paste, and freshly ground black pepper. Gently stir in fish; cook 3 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.