Grilled Padrons

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My all time favorite pepper is the Spanish tapas staple the Padron. Most are mild, but every once in a while you get a hot one! They are usually cooked on the stove top in a lot of hot olive oil, but I’m always trying to lighten things up, so I tossed them in a bowl with a little olive oil and grilled them. I actually prefer then grilled – the bbq adds a nice smoky note. It you don’t have padrons you could use another kind of mild pepper. I use one of those veggie baskets to cook them on the grill.

Ingredients:
1/2 lb Padron peppers
2 tsp olive oil
Salt

Get your grill smoking hot. In a large bowl, toss the padrons in the olive oil. Using a veggie BBQ basket, grill the padrons over high heat for about 2 minutes per side, you want a nice char and for the peppers to soften from the heat. Remove from heat and salt generously.

Serves 2.
1 WW PP.

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Grilled Okra

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I was not a fan of okra until I discovered this recipe – now I am a huge fan. The key is to use small okra – the big ones will be fiberous and slimy.

1 lb okra, less than 3 inches long
2 tsp olive oil
Salt

Heat BBQ on high.

Using a sharp knife split the Okra to about 1/2 from the top. Toss with oil and salt.

Grill over high heat for 2 minutes per side until slightly charred.

Serves 3 – 4.
2 WW PP.

The Bronx Cocktail

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Tonight I had no idea what I wanted for our Saturday cocktail, so I hit one of many cocktail books and headed up to the liquor cabinet and this is what I decided on. A strong drink with a hint of orange, perfect for a tired mommy and daddy.

Ingredients:
2 parts Gin
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part dry vermouth
Juice of one orange
Orange curls for the glass

Pour all but orange curls into cocktail shaker, fill with ice, shake for 1 minute and serve. I make mine in advance pour out of the cocktail shaker into a measuring cup – discard the ice and pour the cocktail back into the shaker and put it in the fridge until it is time to drink.

Bacon, Bourbon, Pecan Brownies

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I came across this recipe in Food & Wine and I HAD to make it! I did lighten it up a bit by using 1/2 c applesauce in place of 1/2 c butter. I also added more bourbon because that boozy flavor was not coming through. These are wonderful even without all the butter -crunchy bacon, chewy chocolatey, nutty, boozy goodness! I put 1/2 in the freezer for future enjoyment, ok mostly so I don’t eat the entire tray. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1/3 c pecans, toasted and chopped
1/4 lb bacon, cooked and chopped
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 c applesauce, unsweetened
2 TBSP unsalted butter
2 TBSP bacon grease
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
5 TBSP bourbon
4 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×9 silicon pan or line a regular 9×9 with parchment and spray.

In a glass bowl combine applesauce, butter, bacon grease and chopped chocolates – microwave on 50% power for 1 minute, stir well, microwave for another 30 seconds, stir well, continue until all chocolate and butter and melted.

In a large bowl of a stand mixture, beat chocolate mixture on medium speed till smooth and shiny. Add both sugars, beat until well combined. Beat in bourbon, eggs and salt until smooth. Add cocoa powder, beat until smooth. Beat in 1/2 c of flour at a time until well incorporated, then add the next.

Scrape batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts and bacon. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Transfer pan to a rack and let the brownies cool completely. Lift the brownies out of pan and cut into squares.

24 servings.
6 WW PP.

Bacon wrapped Bison

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My butcher turned me on to the Bison tenderloin. Since bison is lean, I wrapped it in prosciutto added some herbs – and it turned out perfect! This is a great weeknight meal since it only takes a few minutes to pull together. I prepared it while putting the boys lunches together and popped it in the fridge till I was ready to cook it. You could also do this with beef tenderloin if you don’t have access to bison. I have to say I usually am not a fan of bison because it is so lean, but this wonderful and tender.

Ingredients
1 lb bison tenderloin piece
3 cloves garlic, minced
coarsely ground black pepper
3 -4 slices prosciutto
1 TBSP fresh rosemary leaves, minced

Arrange prosciutto slices on work surface, overlapping slightly and forming rectangle. Sprinkle with minced garlic, rosemary and pepper. Place tenderloin atop prosciutto and around tenderloin to enclose completely. Place tenderloin in roasting pan. Roast tenderloin until meat thermometer inserted into center registers 125°F for rare, about 30 – 40 min, but watch closely and check often. Remove from oven. Tent with foil and let tenderloin stand 10 minutes.

Using large sharp knife, cut tenderloin through bacon and rosemary into 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve.

Moist Chocolate Cake

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I love dessert, especially chocolate cake. This is the easiest low calorie cake ever – and it tastes amazing. I usually serve this with a little whip cream and fresh strawberries.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 c sugar
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP vegetable oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into a sprayed loaf pan. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs on it.

Let the cake cool completely.

Serves 12.
3 WW PP.

Zucchini & Blossom Mock-Pasta

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After a weekend of too much eating and drinking followed by the scale moving in the wrong direction, I needed to make sure I started this week on a healthy note. I love using zucchini in place of pasta, it is super easy, fresh and most important tasty. I use my oxo mandoline to create the “mock pasta” using the small julienne blade. This dish comes together quickly so be sure to have everything ready before you start cooking.

Ingredients:
4 – 5 medium zucchinis, sliced lengthwise on a mandoline using the small julienne blade
1 TBSP olive oil
1 head of green garlic, minced (or 4 – 5 cloves regular garlic
10+ squash blossoms, sliced thin, stamen removed
2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 oz prosciutto, thinly sliced
2 oz parmigiano cheese, grated
2 TBSP basil, minced
2 TBSP flat leaf parsley, minced

In a 12 inch skilled, heat the olive oil over medium head, add the garlic, prosciutto and the tomatoes, storing frequently until the tomatoes start to burst. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes – stirring frequently to ensure even cooking. Add the squash blossoms and cook for 1 minute. Rove from heat and stir in cheese and herbs.

2 servings.
7 WW PP.

Artichoke and Ricotta Pasta

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This recipe came about on a night when I was too lazy to do any real cooking. I searched through the fridge and found the ricotta then headed to the freezer where I found a bag of frozen artichoke hearts – grabbed some pasta and dinner was on. The flavors here are very mild, so I held off on adding anything that might overpower the ricotta or the artichokes. My picky 2.75 year old even ate it!

Ingredients:
10 oz bag of frozen artichokes
1 cup ricotta
4 oz parmigiano
Red pepper flakes
8 oz pasta

Run artichoke under cold water for 1 minute, then steam in microwave with 1/4 c water for 2 minutes. Purée artichoke hearts till smooth, transfer to a bowl. Purée ricotta then combine with artichoke purée, stir in a couple pinches red pepper flakes and parmigiano cheese.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook till al dente. Reserve 1 c of the pasta water, drain pasta and return to pot. Add cheese mixture, stir, add pasta water as need to thin. Heat over low heat for one to two minutes while sauce thickens. Top with a little more grated parmigiano cheese and serve.

2 servings.
9 WW PP.

Arugula, Fig & Goat Cheese Salad

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I know summer is finally well under way when the figs show up at the farmers market. I love figs – they are my favorite fruit. The fact that figs are only around for a short time makes them that much more special. I whipped up this salad for lunch today – it took about 5 minutes, so there really is no excuse for not eating healthy. This salad is the perfect blend of sweet, salty, crunchy, creamy and peppery. If you don’t have fig balsamic, a good quality balsamic will work fine.

Ingredients:
3 figs, cut into bite size pieces
3 TBSP slivered almonds
2 oz soft goat cheese
4 c Arugula
1 tsp olive oil
1 TBSP fig balsamic vinegar (about)
Salt and pepper

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and toss. I toss with the olive oil, then drizzle in the balsamic until nicely coated.

1 serving as a meal
8 WW PP

Citrus Spash

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I have a bottle of light lemon rum that has been just sitting in my liquor cabinet – this is a problem that had to be remedied. I looked on a few cocktail sites and did not find anything inspiring, so I looked around to see what I had on hand – some citrus, orange liquor and of course the rum and here is what I came up with.

Ingredients:
4 oz lemon rum
2 oz orange liquor (like Cointreau)
1 oz meyer lemon juice
1 oz orange juice
Orange rind

Mix in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice and pour into martini glasses.