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Chinese Chicken Salad Chow Down.

Low-Fat Chinese Chicken Salad

A couple of weeks back, I ordered a delicious Chinese chicken salad from a cafe near my office. As good as this salad was, it was $12 and as healthy as it appeared to be, I really had no way of knowing how the ingredients were prepared and I knew for a fact that the dressing was not reduced-calorie or fat. I decided to take it upon myself to create my own low-fat Chinese chicken salad that I could easily bring to work, and this was the end result! It tastes just as good, if not better, than the take-away salad I had ordered. It is so easy and yummy!

Serves 2-4.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups shredded green cabbage (cole slaw mix)
  • 1 cup broccoli slaw mix
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 1 cup crunchy chow mein noodles (found in the Asian section of your grocer)
  • 1 chicken breast, grilled & diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tbsp Newman’s own Low-Fat Sesame Ginger dressing
  • 3 tbsp Annie’s Naturals Lite Gingerly dressing

In a large mixing bowl, add the cabbage, broccoli slaw, red peppers, chow mein noodles, chicken breast and cilantro. In a small bowl, mix the two dressings together to combine and then pour over the salad ingredients and toss well to combine all the ingredients.

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Mangia! Meatballs & Sausage.

Tomato Sauce With Beef & Pork Meatballs, Turkey Sausage

This is a very simple dish that is fast and easy to make. I used both ground pork and beef to make the meatballs along with hot Italian turkey sausage. The meat in this dish is cooked in the tomatoes which adds the bulk of the flavor to the sauce. Of course, you can put this over pasta, but the sauce and meat is so flavorful that you can eat it on its own and won’t even miss it. Best of all, you can make a pot of this and eat the leftovers for days without any fuss!

Serves 5-7 people (~15 meaballs)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1 lb cans of crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzino)
  • 1 1lb can of tomato puree (preferably San Marzino)
  • 1/2 lb ground pork, lean
  • 1/2 lb ground beef, lean
  • 1 package Jennie-O hot italian turkey sausage (comes with 4 large links)
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (1/4 for meatballs, 1/4 for sauce)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • garlic salt

Put your canned tomatoes into a large pot on the stove on medium heat with the lid on.

In a large mixing bowl, add the ground meat, chopped basil, bread crumbs, parmesan, egg, garlic salt and hot red pepper. Mix well and form into small balls using the palms of your hand. Put these onto a non-stick baking sheet along with the turkey sausage. Cook in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes just to lightly brown the meat.

The tomatoes should be hot and bubbling at this point. Take the meatballs from the oven and place it into the large pot with the tomatoes.  Cut the sausage into smaller pieces and put those into the pot as well.  Allow the meat to continue cooking in the sauce for about 45 minutes-1 hour. Season the tomatoes with crushed red pepper, a generous dash of garlic salt and the remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.

Italian Goodness.

Topo Gigo (www.topogigiochicago.com) has fresh and yummy food that tastes like home-cooked Italian food. The restaurant has a great ambiance and lively feel to it.  There is also a great outdoor area that’s perfect for dining outdoors in nice weather. They have a wide selection on their menu of appetizers, salads, pastas and entrées. I highly recommend! Below are some of our orders from the past few months.

ANTIPASTO FREDDO: A presentation of meats, cheese and grilled vegetables from their antipasto table $6.95 per person

BRUSCHETTA AL PROSCIUOTTO DI PARMA: Garlic bread with cherry tomato, baked with mozzarella, topped with prosciutto and fresh basil $5.95

INSALATA DI GAMBERI: Large grilled shrimp, fresh spinach, string beans, capers, avocado with Ligurian extra virgin olive oil & lemon dressing  $15.95

CONCHIGLIE ALLA SARDA: Seashell pasta in a tomato-cream sauce with ground sausage, peas and pecorino cheese $13.95

FILETTO DI BUE AL BAROLO: Grilled beef tenderloin, with mushrooms and Barolo wine sauce, mashed potatoes & spinach $18.95

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Salad.

Arugula Salad With Pancetta, Leeks, Cherry Tomatoes, Gorgonzola & Almonds With Champagne Mustard Vinaigrette

This salad is full of just about everything but the kitchen sink! I used a bunch of random ingredients that I happened to have in my fridge and the salad turned out to be a success. It’s delicious and hearty!

Serves 3-5.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup diced pancetta
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 3 tbsp crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tbsp Champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt/black pepper

Begin by cooking the leeks and pancetta. To cook the leeks, heat a tiny bit of olive oil in a pan on medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes to allow them to lightly brown. To cook the pancetta, put it into a separate pan on medium heat (no oil needed) and cook for about 10 minutes. After the pancetta is crispy and brown, allow it to cool on a piece of paper towel to drain the excess fat.

In a small mixing bowl, combine 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp Champagne vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard and a dash of salt/black pepper. Put the arugula, cherry tomatoes and almonds in a large bowl and pour the dressing over top. Toss well to combine and then plate the salad. After plated, top the lettuce mixture with the pancetta, leeks and gorgonzola.

Sweet & Spicy Shrimp Pasta.

Garlic & Shrimp Angel Hair Pasta With Broccolini, Corn & Parmesan

Now that the weather is getting warmer, I’m even more inclined to cook with fresh and bright ingredients! This colorful pasta dish is a treat, made with fresh pasta, and has tons of different flavors. The spice  from the garlic and hot pepper blends so well with the subtle, sweet taste of the shrimp and corn.

Serves 3-5.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (9 0z) fresh Buitoni angel hair pasta (or any brand you prefer)
  • 1 cup cooked shrimp, de-veined, tails removed, halved (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup broccolini, chopped
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp hot red pepper flakes
  • garlic salt

In a pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Add in the crushed garlic and hot red pepper flakes, allow this to simmer in the olive oil for about 1 minute. Then add in the broccolini and corn and cook for about 5 minutes. At this point, add in the chicken stock to help steam the vegetables. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Lastly, add in the shrimp and put the lid on the pan for about 2-5 minutes to heat the shrimp.

Because the pasta is fresh, it only takes about 1 minute to cook. After you drain your pasta, add it back into the pot and put the broccolini and shrimp mixture over top with the Parmesan cheese and a generous dash of garlic salt. Toss to combine all the ingredients. If you like heat, you can add in a bit more hot red pepper flakes at this time as well.

A Lunchtime Feast At Socca.

I recently went to Socca (www.soccachicago.com) with a friend of mine for a lunch date. Located in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, Socca serves French-Italian cuisine and has a brunch/lunch and dinner menu. We did something that I’ve always wanted to do… we ordered a few things from the menu and had bites of each to sample and taste! It was so much fun. Of course, we had quite a few leftovers, but it was a great experience and a great way to sample the many delicious dishes Socca’s brunch/lunch menu had to offer.

Smoked Salmon BLT: Bacon, Arugula, Tomato. Caper Aioli, Toasted Croissant Pretzel Roll, With Fresh Berries $12

Breakfast Burger: Toasted Brioche, Wisconsin Cheddar, Horseradish Mustard, Peppered Bacon, House Pickles, Fried Egg, Served With Frites $14

Speck Pizzette: Smoked Prosciutto, Artichoke, Roasted Peppers, Egg $11

Spinach & Mushroom Hash: Spinach, Mushrooms, Potatoes, 2 Eggs, Hollandaise $10

Awesome Avocado Burger.

No-Bun Turkey Burger With Low-Fat Swiss, Avocado, Sun Dried Tomatoes & Sriracha Sauce

This turkey burger is so good that I promise you won’t miss the bun! The burger is topped with sweet sun-dried tomatoes, spicy Sriracha sauce, cool avocado and creamy swiss. All the flavors will tickle your taste buds and leave you satisfied. It’s awesome!

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ground lean turkey burgers (preferably Jennie-O)
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced (1/4 per burger)
  • 2 slices reduced-fat Swiss cheese (1 per burger)
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, jarred in oil rather than dried, excess oil drained (3 per burger)
  • 2 tsp Sriracha hot chili sauce (1 tsp per burger)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • garlic salt

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Cook your turkey burgers for about 5-7 minutes on each side. Season with a dah of garlic salt on each side. After the burgers have browned and cooked through, top with the swiss and turn the heat off. Keep the pan on the burner and put the lid on the pan to melt the swiss. When the cheese is melted, top the burgers with the avocado, sun-dried tomatoes and the Sriracha sauce.