Tuesday, June 15, 2010

a momentary pause

I am off to a conference for work and won't be back until Father's Day. I will post again next week.

And, no, the conference isn't anywhere with tropical beaches; it's in Madison, WI.

Hoping to find some good cheese.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gluten Free Caesar Salad

Oh my gosh! This Caesar salad is the bomb at my house. I usually only make it during the warmer weather months so the family really appreciates it when I start making it again. I think the keys to its success are in the homemade croutons and the from scratch, lightened up Caesar dressing. This is great for people on a low-carb diet, just omit the croutons and added some sliced almonds. Yum!

Chicken Caesar Salad
4 grilled, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8-10 C romaine lettuce, torn into 1/2 inch pieces
Garlic croutons (see below) or sliced almonds
1/2 C Lightened Up, but authentic tasting Caesar Salad Dressing (below)

Gluten Free Croutons

4 C 1/2 inch gluten free bread cubes (lighter, fluffier breads work best)
vegetable or olive oil spray
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes on a cookie sheet. Generously coat the bread cubes with the oil spray. Sprinkle with half the salt and half the garlic powder and toss to combine. Repeat with oil spray and remaining salt and garlic powder. Spread the bread cubes out again so that they are in a single layer. Bake until golden brown, turning 1 or 2 times, about 20-25 minutes. Cool to room temp before serving.

Lightened up Caesar Salad Dressing
1/4 C buttermilk (or 1/4 C plain yogurt or 1/4C milk with 1/2 tsp vinegar, allow to "sour" for 5 min)
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs reduced fat mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1-2 med garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 anchovy fillets (or 1-1.5 tsp anchovy paste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbs olive oil
1 oz (1/2 C) grated Parmesan cheese

Puree all of the dressing ingredients except the oil and Parmesan in a blender (or food processor) until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides as needed. With the motor running, add the oil in a steady stream. Stir in the cheese. Makes about 1 C of dressing and it takes about 1/2 C to lightly coat the amount of lettuce mentioned above.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Turkey Breakfast Sausage

Now that I am into the next phase of my weight loss program I am eating much closer to my normal pattern, minus grains, starches and sugar.

I rejoiced this morning when I had my fist green smoothie in weeks. It tasted great, but there was a huge psychological boost as well. This mental boost came from knowing I was getting 2 servings of greens (that I normally do not enjoy eating otherwise) and all the phytonutrients they bring along. And don't forget all the nutrients packed in the blueberries I blended in with the greens in my Vitamix. Yum!

I also really enjoyed having some lean protein with my breakfast from the turkey breakfast sausage I made. I mixed the sausage last night and cooked them all up before freezing them. Now all I have to do is pop a few patties (they are small, about 1 oz each) into the microwave and I have a nice lean protein to get me going in the morning.

While I pan fried the first batch of patties, I found they charred too quickly and stuck to my pan (I don't use non-stick pans). I cooked the rest of them on parchment lined cookie pans in my oven. They don't have the pretty caramelization from the pan, but they taste just as good and took less labor and oil.

This came together relatively quickly and it didn't require that I pull out my entire spice collection. I used ground turkey thighs because I find turkey breast too dry. Perhaps next time I will try a blend of half breast and half thigh. I used granny smith apples and grated them, and the onion, in my food processor. I found that the grated strips were a bit too long for my liking so I switched blades and pulsed the apple/onion mixture, along with the herbs and spices, until it reached the consistency that I wanted. It was finely chopped, but not pureed. Finally, I used my scooper (I think it is the medium scoop) from Pampered Chef to portion out the raw sausage mixture. Since this made them into little meatballs I flattened them with a spatula before baking them. They result was amazing. I really had my doubts about some of the spices that I was adding but they really combine for a great taste. It is definitely a breakfast sausage taste and nothing like Italian sausage. And that is just what I wanted.

Turkey Breakfast Sausage
(makes 35-40 1 oz patties)

2 medium, tart apples, peeled and grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4-1/2 C onion, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced or smashed
1 Tbs rubbed sage
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
2 lbs ground turkey

If you are not using a food processor as I described above, combine grated apple, onion, egg and all herbs and spices in a large bowl. Make sure this mixture is well combined. Add the turkey to the apple/onion mixture and gently mix with your hands until the ingredients are well incorporated. Measure out preferred portion sizes and shape into patties. These can be cooked slowly in a frying pan over medium heat or on parchment lined cookies sheets in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.