Creamed Spinach

I love spinach.  Spinach of all kinds — fresh spinach for salads and sandwhiches, sauteed spinach (maybe with some garlic and cherry tomatoes) spinach dips and my favorite, creamed spinach.

Maybe it’s my dual love of cream cheese as well, but creamed spinach is one of my favorite things.  It’s kind of a luxury item, though, due to the butter and cream cheese, but you can tone it down with reduced fat cream cheese and substituting some of the butter with olive oil.  Still, I’m not going to lie, it’s an indulgence.  But so creamy and good.  Try it next time you’re grilling out; goes great with a juicy steak!

Creamed Spinach

  • 2 packages of frozen spinach
  • 1/2 block of cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • splash lemon juice
  • salt (reglar and seasoned salt)
  • grated parmesan (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt the cream cheese and butter together until softened and smooth.  Meanwhile, thaw the spinach in the microwave and drain it well.  Put the spinach in a baking dish and salt it.  Pour the cream cheese mixture over the spinach and stir together with a spatula, coating the spinach well.  Add a splash of lemon juice (maybe 2 teaspoons) and seasoned salt to the spinach and stir again.  Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese (optional).  Cover the dish and bake for about 25 minutes.

before baking

Poppyseed Chicken

Why is poppyseed chicken not on the blog yet?  I have no idea.  I love this casserole, it’s the ultimate comfort food and really simple.  This is a well-known type of recipe, but the dash of curry powder makes it extra-special to me.

  The key to making it fast and easy for a weeknight supper is to have your chicken pre-cooked. Typically, I will just simmer a few boneless breasts (45-50 minutes with S&P) on the weekend and just keep them in a baggie in the fridge for when we need cooked chicken, for salads, chicken salad, whatever.

However, this past weekend, we had some friends over to grill out and in typical fashion, Frank bought about 6,000 chicken breasts for 10 people (he likes to buy in bulk…a trait I’m starting to pick up on as our married years tick by, but it still amazes me every now and then).  We threw them on the smoker, and of course, had 5,990 breasts left over…but they were perfect to make Poppyseed Chicken in a hurry tonight!  I love dinners that go in the oven and you don’t have to watch constantly on the stove.

This is a great casserole for a busy weeknight or to take to a new mom, new neighbor or a large dinner party.  Freezes well, too.  Serve with a green salad.

Poppyseed Chicken

  • 3-4 boneless chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 8 oz. carton reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 can cream of celery (98% fat free)
  • healthy shake curry powder
  • 1 roll whole-wheat Ritz crackers, crushed up
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp poppyseeds

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large mixing bowl, shred your chicken into small bite-size pieces.

 Dump the sour cream, cream of celery and dash of curry powder and mix well with a spatula.  Spread mixture into a medium-sized baking dish.

In a separate, smaller bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.  Put the Ritz crackers in a ziplock baggie and crush up to make crumbs with a meat mallet or something similar.  Pour the crushed cracker crumbs into the bowl of melted butter and add the poppyseeds.  Mix well.

Top the casserole with the crust, covering thoroughly.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly.

Black Bean Dip

If you are looking for a healthy, delicious offering to bring to your Memorial Day BBQ, this is the perfect recipe. My husband asks for it all the time and while it’s originally designed as an appetizer, the leftovers work great as a side dish for lunches, too. 

It’s super-healthy, colorful and makes plenty for a large crowd. And the best part — it’s so easy, you just dump a bunch of cans together and go! Happy Memorial Day!

Black Bean Dip

  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of black-eyed peas
  • 2 cans shoepeg corn (the shoepeg part is important)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • as much chopped cilantro as you like ( I use about 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 5 tbsp lime juice
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil

In a strainer over the sink, drain the corn, beans and peas, rinsing well to remove any of the canning residue and sodium.  Dump into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the tomatoes, Rotel, onion, cilantro, cumin and mix well.

Then, stir in the lime juice and vegetable oil, mixing well.  This is best when covered with plastic wrap and chilled overnight; however, you can serve immediately.  But only with Tostitos and a cold Corona.  🙂

The Weekly Rundown

This rain is awesome.  I love rainy Sunday evenings, watching movies and drinking wine.  So, I’m keeping this short.  Just a preview of the week’s menu ahead…you’ll notice that Friday is missing.  That’s because I don’ t cook on Fridays. 

Most of these things are do-overs, things Frank really likes, but I’ll post the creamed corn and a few other newbies this week.  Enjoy your workweek, as best you can. 

Sunday:  Pasta rollups with ground turkey and spinach (from cleaneating.com…really cool magazine, can find this recipe here)

Monday:  shrimp and pesto pasta

Tuesday:  pulled pork sandwiches with spicy coleslaw and canned baked beans

Wednesday:  grilled drumsticks (my new find, super-cheap way to do chicken.  6 drummies are like $3.00, seriously!) with creamed corn and slaw

Thursday:  weeknight flank steak with a salad and sweet potatoes

Happy Anniversary, Frank

Today is my four-year wedding anniversary!  We’ll do something to celebrate this weekend, but tonight being a weeknight and therefore subjected to Frank’s strict, self-imposed curfew, we thought we would stay low-key and just grill.

However, I am kicking it up a notch by grilling New York Strips and opening a bottle of Cloudline.

This pinot noir is from the same makers of the Domaine Drouhin wines, which is a DIVINE vineyard in the Wilamette Valley.  Leslie, if you’re reading this, I cannot BELIEVE you get to live here.  A picture of us from our visit to Domaine Drouhin:

I am super-pumped.  Weather is fabulous, grill will be lit and I will be on my second glass in T-minus 3 hours.  Enjoy your Thursday!

Grilled Sea Bass

I adore fish, but am picky about it.  Luckily, Frank is a master of grilling all kinds of fish and his sea bass is rave-worthy.  And since he usually takes a beating on the blog, I thought I would prove to you all that he does have redeeming qualities, one of which is his ability to grill.

We were at the Whole Foods last weekend, deciding what to cook for dinner and ran across these beautiful sea bass fillets on sale.  The good thing about sea bass fillets are that they are thicker chunks that flatter grouper or tilapia or other types of white fish and therefore don’t flake off or fall apart on the grill as easily.

This preparation was beyond simple and the fish turned out so tender and juicy — just fabulous.  Serve with some roasted asparagus or a salad and new potatoes and a crisp white wine.

Grilled Sea Bass

  • 2 sea bass fillets
  • greek seasoning
  • olive oil
  • cooking spray

Preheat grill to high heat.  Spray down a grill basket or other type of grill grate with cooking spray and place on grill to get hot.  Season sea bass with greek seasoning (we like Cavenders) and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Grill for about 7 minutes on each side, careful to only turn them once, if you can help it.  The result is a nice crisp top and bottom and tender meat on the inside.

fresh ingredients for springtime!

Homemade Pizza with Chicken Sausage, Fennel and Sweet Onion

So, this was my first real attempt at homemade pizza and I must say, it was a serious success.  The flavors in this recipe were delicious together — those folks at Cooking Light know what they are doing.  There were a lot of firsts for me in this recipe.  First, chicken sausage.  What in the world is that?  Ask you butcher at — where else — Publix.  It looks just like italian sausage, just ten times healthier.  There was virtually no fat as they browned in the skillet.  While I’m talking about the sausage, you can break it into a lot smaller pieces in the skillet, Frank just likes them in bigger chunks.  It lots a little weird in these large chunks, but just go with it. 

Second ‘first’ — fennel. 

I bought a fennel bulb and had to Google it because I had no idea how to chop it or what to do with it.  Found this very informative video on the internet (what did we do before the internet, seriously?) on chopping fennel.  It’s a breeze, don’t worry.

Third ‘first’ — fresh pizza dough.  I had heard that Publix (am I obsessed?) makes incredible fresh pizza dough and I heard right, it was really good.  You can find it in their bakery section, in a small refridgerated case.

Fourth ‘first’ — pizza itself. 

But it turned out fabulously, please you MUST try this, I promise you’ll love it.  Serve with a salad of greens, tomato and red wine vinegar.  Let me know!

Pizza with Chicken Sausage, Fennel and Sweet Onion

  • 1 package of chicken sausages, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups vertically sliced sweet onion
  • 1 cub thinly sliced fennel (watch the video, I promise)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • fresh pizza dough
  • 3/4 cup of Gouda cheese, shredded (I bought a wheel of Gouda and shredded myself)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives (from my herb garden!)

Preheat oven according to the pizza dough label instructions, probably 450.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown sausage until cooked.  Remove from pan.  Add oil to pan and saute the onion and fennel with the salt, covered for 10 minutes or so, until tender and lightly browned.

In the meantime, place the dough on a lightly floured countertop.  Sprinkle about half a handful of flour on top of the doughball and roll it out with a rolling pin to desired thickness.

Move dough to nonstick cookie sheet.  Put the onion/fennel mixture on the pizza, then the gouda, then the cooked sausage. 

Bake for about 12 minutes or until crispy.  Sprinkle evenly with chopped chives and serve!