Friday, February 29, 2008

3rd Friday of Lent

Today is another meatless Friday and time for me to put together something filling for DH but lower in fat and calories as we both are watching what we eat. I love Italian food during Lent. Most pasta dishes can be made without meat and can be "beefed up" with vegggies. I love Veal Parmesan but using eggplant is a great alternative. I also substitute romano for the parmesan, but either is good.

Below is my recipe for Baked Eggplant Romano, which like most Italian food, tastes even better as leftovers.

Baked Eggplant Romano

Baked Eggplant Romano

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/3 cup Romano cheese
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 medium eggplants
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2 tbsp skim milk
1 jar tomato sauce, low sodium and low fat
2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine bread crumbs, Romano cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and onion powder together in a medium-size bowl; set aside. Remove skin from eggplant and remove the ends. Slice eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
3. Whisk together eggwhites and milk. Dip eggplant slices into eggwhite mixture and then into bread crumb mixture. Bake eggplant on a nonstick cookie sheet until lightly browned, about 20 minutes, turning over at the halfway point.
4. In a 9x13 inch baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce. Place a layer of eggplant on bottom, then add 1/3 of the remaining tomato sauce and 1/3 of mozzarella cheese. Repeat with 2 more layers in same order. Bake until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling, about 15 minutes more. Let set for about 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fab Fabric!

My kitchen is a mix of unusual colors. We inherited the soft yellow and country blue wallpaper from the previous owner. We painted the wall beneath the chair rail in the same country blue. The wallpaper has tiny pink/lavender flowers on it, so we continued the color of the livingroom (Still Shores by Behr) into the other walls of the kitchen to match the flowers.

I like it - but it's impossible to find any coordinating fabric. Or so I thought until I found this on eBay. . .

All the colors of my kitchen AND it has teapots, fruit and flowers on it. I bought the fabric and begged the seller for more. She had it! So, today I took down my old blue curtains (left) and made some snazzy new curtains (right).

I purchased enough of the fabric to make myself an apron, but then I found Roses and Tea Cups who sell pinafore aprons made with the exact same fabric. I can't wait to get my apron from them. Now I am going to use my remaining fabric to make covers for my Kitchenaid mixer and my toaster oven. It's going to be a busy week!


Last year we received quite a bit of rain, especially for a place called the Valley of the Sun. DH and I noticed that we had some lovely little purple flowers springing up in the back yard. We don't know what they are, some sort of wild ground cover I suppose, as the backyard is a bit on the wild side. I see no point in putting in grass in the desert, so whatever seeds the birds or the winds bring is what grows back there.

DH and I thought about how lovely the yard would be if the little purple flowers choked out the other weeds and became our "lawn." Lo and behold- it's rained a lot this year too and look what we have now. . .

Monday, February 25, 2008

Green Grocery Bags

In our quest to try and be a little more "green" in 2008, I am now bringing my own bags when I do the grocery shopping. We have many free travel related bags from my job plus I bought a huge bag at Home Depot to haul larger things or lots of little items.

I love the reuseable bags I purchased at Safeway, but every time I check out the cashier tries to charge me for the bags again. I've been looking for a way to personalize the bags so I took my 40% off coupon to Joann's yesterday. I found some big white rick-rack that is just perfect!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jello 1-2-3

The fabulous Leigh Anne Wilkes over at Your Home Based Mom blogged about one of the coolest food products that ever graced the shelves of a supermarket, yes, I am talking about Jello 1-2-3!

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of tasting it, Jello 1-2-3 was a dessert mix that seperated as it set, forming a big layer of Jello on the bottom and 2 creamy mousse layers of fluffy Jello on the top. It was simple, it was inexpensive, and it was my favorite dessert as a child. When I moved into my first apartment, Jello 1-2-3 was at the top of my shopping list.

Sadly, Jello 1-2-3 disappeared, reappeared in limited markets, then was discontinued in 2001.

Like Leigh Anne, I have fond memories of this yummy comfort food that has no substitute. I have one box that sits proudly in my kitchen as a memorial to to the dessert I loved. Thanks to Leigh Anne I have learned there is a petition to bring back Jello 1-2-3. If you'll sign it - we'll both be grateful.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Got Veggies?

Chopper gets very territorial about his broccoli. Seriously.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Another Year

Another birthday has come and gone (it was Monday). DH mentioned in his blog that I was turning 34. God Bless him, he reversed the numbers. Another wonderful thing he did - he bought home George's Gyros for dinner that night as I was too pooped to party. (George's Gyros. 205 N Country Club Dr. Mesa, AZ Phone: 480-890-1325. Fax: 480-962-4973) IMHO, George's is one of the top 2 places to get gyros in Mesa. Wild Berry Diner is the other (Wild Berry Diner. 4805 E Main St. Mesa, AZ 85205 480-832-2860).

As well as the sweetest husband in the world, I am also blessed to have the nicest coworkers. Barb gave me a lovely bouquet of daisies and a pair of beaded earrings she made herself. Deirdre bought me a tin of Harney and Sons Black Current Tea, my new addiction. Rhonda made me an absolutely divine chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling. The cake wasn't around long enough to make it into the picture.

I met my parents for lunch on Tuesday at Uncle Bear's Bar and Grill on Ellsworth and Baseline. DH introduced me to their Prime Rib Sliders when he worked near their Gilbert location several years ago. DH and I never order anything but the sliders, so it was a treat when I was able to try the pizza my parents ordered. It was also fabulous!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

NSV for Me!

I had an NSV (Non Scale Victory for you skinny readers) yesterday. I went to the fridge to make a tuna sandwich and I noticed the mayo had expired. (taking deep breaths as I fight back the tears of happiness)

Now, that may not be cause for a ticker tape parade in most households, but it is in mine. You see this was a 48oz Kirkland Mayo from Costco. The size a normal family would use. And it expired on Jan 30th. It expired with about a cup of mayo still in the jar. RIP.

Still don't get it?

Last year, and for however long before that. . . every six weeks I was buying two (count 'em TWO) of Costco's restaurant size, one gallon, keg o'mayos. Buying it AND eating it. Tuna, potatoes, pasta. . .they were just conduits to get mayo into my body. Expired? Never would have happened. In fact, Costco is lucky I didn't start eating it in the store as I shopped!

Yes, my name is Leanna and I was a mayo-holic. (Gee, maybe I needed to go to the MAYO Clinic)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Sweet Onion Balsamic Pizza With Rosemary and Roasted Garlic


Start with a good standard pizza dough, I like Chris Bianco's Pizza Dough Recipe.

Start the dough and let it rise while you prepare the toppings.


1 head garlic
1 large sweet onion (whatever sweet onion is in season- they're available year round now)
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 cup prepared ranch dressing
2 tsp olive oil
4-5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
kosher salt
2 cups low fat mozarella cheese


Garlic - peel garlic cloves, toss with olive oil with a spinkle of kosher salt. Wrap in a foil packet and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Set aside.

Sweet Onions - Peel and slice 1 large sweet onion. (I like onions - I use more) Heat a non stick frying pan over low-med heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the sliced onions and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Toss well and let the onions melt down over the next 45-55 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes. The object is not to fry the onions, but to gently caramelize them in the balsamic vinegar. Depending on your stove top and pan, you may need to turn he heat down to low. During the last few minutes, add the roasted garlic and stir.

At this point, your pizza dough should have doubled and you can roll it out into your pan.

Before I add my toppings, I like to pre-bake my pizza crust for about 5 minutes at 425 degrees.

Remove from the oven and spread the ranch dressing on the crust then top with garlic/onions, rosemary and mozarella cheese.

Bake for another 12-18 minutes until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday. For Catholics, it is a time for reflection and contemplation of our transgressions in order to repent of our sins. We abstain from meat on this first day of Lent and many Catholics mark the day by fasting as well. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Catholic adults (who are physically and medically able) are asked to consume only one full meal, which may be supplemented by two smaller meals, which together should not equal the full meal.

Traditionally, Ash Wednesday and Lent bring fish frys at church, fish sticks at home and Filet O' Fish for the fast food junkies. Oh, and if you're in downtown Mesa, it's time for the annual pilgramage to Pete's Fish and Chips.

In our home, we prefer a healthier, more economically friendly approach. Spinach Cheese Manicotti is a great 'make ahead' dish, that tastes even better as leftovers the next day. I made a batch last night for tonight's dinner, and the leftovers will be DH's lunch on Friday (Friday's are also meatless during Lent).

Spinach Cheese Manicotti

Spinach Cheese Manicotti

1 8oz box Manicotti
8oz frozen spinach, cooked, chopped and drained well
1/3 cup chopped onions
3 egg whites
1 15 oz container low fat ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups grated low fat mozarella
1 tsp garlic salt
3/4 cup parmesan cheese - divided
1 jar low fat meatless pasta sauce

Cook manicotti according to package directions, drain and run pasta under cold water, drain again and set aside.

Beat egg whites in a med bowl, mix in ricotta, spinach, onion, mozarella, garlic salt and 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese.

Spread 3/4 of the pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9x11 baking dish. Stuff manicotti with the filling and place in the dish.

Top with the remaining pasta sauce and parmesan cheese.

Cover dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sunday Dinner

Big Sunday dinners are the norm in our house. Since we go to church for Vigil Mass on Saturday night, I have all day Sunday to cook. If the weather is cool or rainy I'll usually make baguettes, a loaf of bread or rolls from scratch. The following recipe came about after trying Roast Beef Roll Ups with Horseradish Cream from Desperation Dinners! We loved the sauce (although I cut some of the calories) but we wanted a more filling meal. In place of the proscuitto, we have also used capicola or pancetta.

Chicken Leanna

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to equal thickness
garlic salt

1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups cooked spinach, cooled and drained well
5 or 6 strips of proscuitto, chopped (use kitchen shears)

In a small bowl- toss together cheddar cheese, cooked spinach and proscuitto. Set aside.
Sprinkle chicken with garlic salt and paprika to taste.
Cook chicken in non-stick oven safe pan until almost done. Top evenly with cheddar/spinach/proscuitto mixture. Bake for 7-10 minutes @ 350 degrees or until done. (OR Cook chicken until done - top chicken with spincach/cheddar/proscuitto mixture and place under the broiler until cheese is melted)

Sauce can be used to top chicken or served on the side.

Sauce- (can be halfed-we like a lot of sauce!)

8 tbsp (1 stick) butter
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk (orig recipe calls for half and half - I use 2% milk)
2 tsp (or to taste) creamy horseradish sauce
dash of hot sauce (or to taste)
garlic salt to taste

In a glass bowl or large glass measuring cup, microwave butter until almost melted. In another bowl, separate eggs, beat well then mix with the milk. With a balloon whisk, temper these mixtures until combined. Microwave on high in 20 to 30 second increments, whisking mixture *violently* for a few seconds in between each cooking time. You've got to use a large whisk for this- a fork will not do the trick. The mixture will thicken in 3-6 minutes, depending on your microwave wattage. When the sauce thickens, add horseradish, hot sauce and garlic salt to taste. Serve hot- can be refrigerated and reheated.

*This sauce is tricky and tends to break until you get the hang of it. If it does break - keep beating it and it should come back together. Pampered Chef has a 2 qt glass measuring pitcher that is hands down *the best* cooking vessel for this sauce. The pitcher has a rounded bottom that matches perfectly with the whisk.

Sunday Breakfast

On those rare occasions when we can shoo the animals off the table so we can eat, breakfast at our house usually consists of a bowl of instant oatmeal enhanced with leftover fruit from the bird's morning meal. If I do cook something special it's usually a healthy, low fat meal like this Crunchy Onion Spinach Frittata. I don't like mushy onions so I don't saute the onions first like it calls for in most frittata recipes.

Crunchy Onion Spinach Frittata

2 eggs
4 egg whites
1/4 cup skim milk
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup spinach, cooked and drained very well
creamy horseradish to taste
1/2 tsp olive oil
2 slices Kraft 2% American Cheese

Set oven to broil.

Take a 6 inch non stick oven proof skillet and coat the bottom amd sides with the olive oil.

Place pan on burner set to medium heat.

Beat eggs and egg whites with skim milk, salt, pepper and creamy horseradish.

Add egg mixture to heated pan and stir in onion and spinach.

With a heatproof spatula, scrape cooked egg mixture from the bottom of the
pan towards the center and let the uncooked mixtue fil in the spaces until the egg mixture is completely set.

Shake the pan and loosen mixture from the sides so the firm eggs can move around the pan.

Tear cheese slices into strips and evenly distribute them over the top if the egg mixture.

Place pan under broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve immediately.