Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Date Night--November 5, 2013

Now that's Italian!

That's how I would like hubby to respond this evening.  Emily Bites really came through for me on this one.  All portions of the meal were found on her website (emilybites.com).

The jury is still out on this one.  It could be Manhattans.  Or it could be Martinis/Gibsons (a martini with an onion garnish instead of an olive). Or assuming I have the necessary ingredients, I could make Josh a Negroni, in which case I would have some sparkly water.

Pizza Cups

My plan is to make four pizza cups and one mini loaf of french bread.  We'll see how that works for me.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole--Josh loves his chicken parm.  I love the idea of a one pot meal.  Sorry, Babe, no pasta side.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole
Source: adapted from Food.com

2 lbs raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ t crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste if you want it hot)
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
2 cups marinara/pasta sauce (I used Wegmans Tomato Basil)
1 ½ cups 2% reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (I used the smallest holed side of my box grater), divided
3.5 oz garlic croutons, roughly crushed, leaving some larger pieces (I used New York Texas Toast brand Garlic & Butter)

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
2.    Spread the cubed pieces of chicken across the bottom of the baking dish in a single layer. Sprinkle the minced garlic, red pepper flakes and basil evenly over the chicken. Spread the sauce evenly across the top. On top of the sauce layer, sprinkle ¾ cup of the Mozzarella and one ounce of the Parmesan evenly across the dish. Sprinkle the crushed croutons across the top and follow with the remaining cheese.
3.    Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Yields 8 servings. WW P+: 8 per serving (P+ calculated using the recipe builder on weightwatchers.com)
Nutrition Information per serving from myfitnesspal.com: 303 calories, 15 g carbs, 11 g fat, 37 g protein, 1 g fiber
Salad.  Dressing choices are available.  Maybe Caesar for my man and blue cheese for me.  I might have to boil some eggs.  Good thing I'm writing this blog now.

Chocolate Chip Cannoli Cups.  I've made these before and they are Oh-So-Good.  I will make the whole recipe of filling but only thaw 5 shells (2 for me and 3 for he who loves me).  This way I'll have more filling for more nights this week.

Chocolate Chip Cannoli Cups
Source: inspired by Gimme Some Oven

15 Frozen Mini Phyllo Shells (I used Athens brand)
2 oz Marscapone cheese (I used BelGioso brand)
2/3 cup fat free Ricotta cheese
3 T powdered sugar
¼ t vanilla
A pinch of cinnamon (a little goes a long way!)
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips, divided

1.    Place phyllo shells* on the counter to thaw for at least 10-15 minutes.
2.    In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the marscapone, ricotta, powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and stir together until thoroughly mixed. Reserve a small pile of the chocolate chips for topping and stir the remainder into the cheese mixture.
3.    Spoon the filling evenly between all the phyllo shells. Sprinkle reserved chocolate chips over the tops and serve. *I recommend you only defrost/fill as many as you plan to eat at once so that the shells stay crispy.

Yields 15 cups. WW P+: 2 per cup (P+ calculated using the recipe builder on weightwatchers.com)
Nutrition Information per cup from myfitnesspal.com: 63 calories, 7 g carbs, 3 g fat, 2 g protein, 0 g fiber
That brings me to the end of my date night dinner plans.  I do realize it's Tuesday.  WW bonus points reset tomorrow and I have to take into account a weekend of eating/drinking in SC with my family.

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore

happy cooking

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Date Night--Wednesday, October 23, 1013

I'm all over the map with tonight's menu.  We're beginning Italian (sorta), and as best I can tell the main meal is Frenchy.  I don't know really, but it all sounds very good.

Let's start, shall we?


Manhattans.  I am actually going to have one too.  I haven't done that in quite a while but the numbers keep bouncing around on the scale, I have "bonus points," and frankly, I'm tired of depriving myself.


Pizza Logs.  I've made these before.  They're very easy and very yummy.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Date Night, TUESDAY, October 8, 2013

So my (okay, OUR) anniversary is this week. It's on Thursday.  Our SAD is on Sunday, so all of a sudden our Thursday night opened up.  Josh is taking me to the restaurant where we had our first date-date.  You know, no chaperones.

So tonight, I am making our at home anniversary dinner. 


I asked Josh what he wanted.  Surprise, surprise, Filet Mignon, broccoli, and potatoes. Flourless chocolate cake for dessert.  Easy, peesy right?  Well not if your me and me wants to make the night different from all the other date nights with that same basic meal.

So "different" #1 got scratched.  I was going to make Hassleback potatoes.

They're very tasty, but they require a little too much babysitting for our kind of date night.  I will make them.  At another time. Some of you will get to experience them.  It's just not for tonight.

Different #2 also got scratched.  I was going to make a mushroom tart. 


It seemed like maybe a little too much work and it only got a lukewarm response when I suggested it. Again, I know I have friends who love mushrooms.  This will eventually be made and  enjoyed. Probably with those friends.

Different #3.  This one definitely did not get scratched.  And my house smells like onions. The recipe called for "your favorite type of onion."  Seriously?  How could I choose?  So I didn't. I got one white, one yellow, one red, and one sweet onion.


Recipe for what? you'd like to know.  Caramelized onions.  In my crock pot. Low and slow.  And then I add bourbon!  How could we not like this?

I do realize that this is not my typical Date Night post format.  I'll start again.


Toasted Bread with Burrata and Arugula.

 Toasted Bread with Burrata and Arugula recipe

What is burrata?  Probably the most decadent cheese in the world  It's mozzarella stuffed with more mozzarella that has been soaked in cream.  Definitely not an everyday food!

  • 6 3x2-inch pieces friselle or crusty ciabatta bread, halved horizontally
  • 5 tablespoons (about) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, halved
  • 1 8-ounce ball burrata cheese,* cut into 12 wedges
  • 1 1/2 cups (about) baby arugula
  • Finely grated peel from 1 lemon


Finely grated peel from 1 lemon Preheat oven to 400°F. Fill small bowl with water. Place bread halves, cut side up, on baking sheet; brush bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toast bread in oven until crisp and light golden around edges, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Lightly brush each bread half with water (do not soak). Rub cut sides of bread halves with cut sides of garlic halves.
Place 2 bread halves, cut side up, on each of 6 plates. Drizzle each bread half lightly with olive oil. Top each half with 1 burrata wedge; sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Toss arugula with 1 tablespoon olive oil in small bowl; sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mound arugula salad atop burrata on each bread half; sprinkle each with grated lemon peel and serve.


Blood and Sand. 

Blood and Sand - Scotch Cocktail

A Blood and Sand is equal parts Single Malt Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, Cherry Heering and orange juice.  Shake in an ice filled shaker, stain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe.  Garnish with an orange twist.


Anybody who knows Josh, knows he likes Caesar Salad.  So that is what he shall have.  Complete with is little fishies, hare boiled egg, and shaved parmean.

Me?  I'll be having roasted beets on a bed of arugula with goat cheese crumbles, honey roasted pecans and a citrus vinaigrette.


Filet Mignon.  I got the good stuff. USDA Prime.  Really, all it needs it some salt and pepper and a screaming hot pan to get a nice sear.  As imperviously mentioned this will be served with caramelized onion and homemade horseradish sauce.  Accompanying will be steamed broccoli.  Josh wants some Sandwich Pal horseradish sauce on his.  I'll be happier with a squeeze of lemon.  I will also be serving baked potatoes.

"Baked potatoes," you say, "with all his fanciness?"

These are not your typical baked potatoes (although they are the only way I'll bake a potato).  Preheat your oven to 450.  Then scrub and dry our baking potatoes. DO NOT PIERCE!  Place them in a baking pan that  2.5 cups of Kosher salt in it.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for one hour and fifteen minutes.  Remove pan from oven and turn the oven up to 500.  Take the foil off the pan and brush the potatoes with olive oil.  DO NOT REMOVE the spuds from the pan.  When the oven reaches temperature, bake uncovered for another 15 minutes.

After all that, you will have a jacket potato with a mashed potato inside.  I know it sounds crazy, but that's what you'll have.  Serve with butter, sour cream...however you most like you potatoes.

Now to dessert

I'll share the picture, but not the recipe.  I seem to have developed a reputation for this cake.  It's mine. All mine.

I'm serving mine with raspberries and a dollop of homemade whipped cream.

There will be coffee and the potential for after dinner drinks.

So this is what I'm cooking.  How 'bout you?

happy cooking

Monday, September 16, 2013

Date Night--Monday September 16, 2013

I know it's Monday.  What's up with that?  Once again, due to circumstances beyond my control, Wednesday became unavailable.  So we've moved it to this evening.

I'm calling tonight's fare, International Night.  I'm all over the map with the food. In part, because it's what I have on hand and in part because my meticulous meal planning from last week got ignored.  Possibly because I was getting sick (as I am now...ear infection, sinus infection).

So to begin, we'll start with Cocktail Hour:

Josh and I recently rediscovered the Rob Roy.  Like a Manhattan, but with Scotch whisky instead of rye. That's what I'll be making for Josh.  I shall be enjoying a Bloody Mary.

Appetizers are Boboli Toasts with a pizza dip.  This one came completely out of my own little head.  I took a mini Boboli Crust and cut into 8 triangles.  Then I pried (okay, I cut) the triangle in half horizontally so as to have 16 triangles.  Next, I sprayed them with my Misto (EVOO) and sprinkled them with Italian seasoning and salt and pepper.  I baked them for 5 minutes at 425 degrees.

As for the pizza dip, I'll blend some fresh tomatoes, onion, and garlic with some pizza sauce and diced pepperoni.  I have some small bakers so I think I'll put this mixture into one of them, top it with some Italian cheese and bake till bubbly.

Now that sounds distinctly Italian.  But here's the Main Course:

Orange Beef and Broccoli 



  • Combine the steak, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a large zip-close plastic bag. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag; turn to coat the beef. Refrigerate, turning the bag occasionally, at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
  • Heat a large deep nonstick skillet or wok over high heat until a drop of water sizzles in the pan. Add the oil and swirl to coat the skillet. Add the beef and stir-fry until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a plate. Add the broccoli and onion to the skillet and stir-fry until the broccoli is bright green, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir together the orange zest and juice and cornstarch in a small cup until smooth; add to the skillet. Stir-fry until the sauce thickens and bubbles, about 1 minute. Add the beef and stir-fry until heated through, about 2 minutes longer. Yields 1 3⁄4 cups per serving.

This is not the original recipe that I had planned to use.  I prefer this one for several reasons:
1.  the vegetable is built in
2.  it uses ginger which I love Love LOVE
3.  there's some marinating time which allows some of the flavors to really marry with the beef
4.  this serving size is huge for as WW portion
5.  finally, and probably most importantly, I know and trust this site (WW); the other recipe came from a new site to me and I'm not sure I agree with all of her point conversions.

Now to the Side Dish.  The Main Course was distinctly Asian. I'm not sure if this part of the meal is British?  American?  I just don't know.  What I do know is that we both like mushrooms and barley.  So I think this will be a slam dunk.  I also predict that Josh will say regular or fried rice would be better.  I guess that's not really a slam dunk then is it?

Barley with Mushrooms and Onions

 Image of  barely with mushrooms and onions



  • Coat a heavy saucepan with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat; melt butter in pan.
  • Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring a few times, until mushrooms release their moisture, about 5 minutes.
  • Add broth, barley and salt; bring to a boil. Partially cover pan and reduce heat to low; simmer until barley is tender, stirring occasionally, about 60 to 75 minutes. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

I've never been directed to "shred" mushrooms before.  Because they're small and I value my knuckles, I would prefer the food processor.  I think, however, that I shall just dice them small.  I'm partial to a uniform size and shape in dishes like this.  Dice the onion, dice the mushroom.

Now to Dessert.  I've already made dessert.  Frequently, that is where I begin my meal preparations.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

5 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
3 T butter, softened
3 T unsweetened applesauce
1 ½ c sugar
½ t vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c white whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
¼ t baking soda
½ t salt
½ c low-fat buttermilk
3-4 T fresh lemon juice
1-2 t lemon zest
2 c blueberries
1.    Preheat the oven to 350. Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners.
2.    In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter and applesauce and beat with an electric mixer until blended. Add sugar and beat until combined. Add vanilla, eggs and egg whites and beat until blended.
3.    In a separate bowl, combine the flour (lightly spoon into measuring cups and then level with a knife), baking soda, baking powder and salt and stir together. In the bowl containing the wet ingredients, use the mixer on a low speed while pouring in the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Add the lemon juice, zest and buttermilk and beat until blended. Add the blueberries and fold in gently.
4.    Spoon the batter evenly into the liners. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

So I couldn't find my muffin liners.  It's way past time to reorganize my pantry.  Maybe when I'm done being sick.  I did have cooking spray specifically for baking.  They came out like a dream.  So confessions:  An extra yolk made it into the batter and I only got 22 muffins, not 24.  Sue me, I tried my best.

I think I may freeze some of these.  I can see them being part of a healthy breakfast, snack or last minute dessert.

So this is what's cooking in my kitchen.  How 'bout yours?

happy cooking

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Date Night--Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Well if last week was Asian week at the Saxes, tonight we are toasting Italia!

I'd like to share a bunch of recipes, but the bottom line is, much of the meal came out of my little ol' head.  I did have inspirations, but I veered so far from them (who puts raisins in their braciole?) that I'm not even going to share them.


Manhattans!  I think Frank and Dino would approve.


Bruschetta.  I have had lots of tomatoes this year.  So dice 'em up, add some garlic, basil, and onion.  Dress lightly with balsamic and olive oil and whammo--you've got your bruschetta.  I made my crostini from a sandwich roll I bought three days ago.  It was the perfect amount of stale to crisp up in the oven.

Main Course--

Beef Braciole (pronounced bra-zhole).  What is braciole, you'd like to know.  According to Dictionary.com it's  "a flat piece of veal or beef rolled around a filling and baked in stock and wine."  In my preparation, it's been cooking in my homemade gravy in my crockpot.  That's the way my grandmom always did it

What cut was it?  Emily Bites (my loose inspiration) called for 1.25 lb of beef top round roast.  She wanted me to beat it down to a .25".  Easier option?  Have the butcher slice it for you at .25"!

With what did I fill it?  EB rolled hers with onion, garlic, spinach, dried parsley, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoned bread crumbs, and, wait for it, golden raisins.  Me?  I chopped (in my food processor) a very generous amount of fresh parsley, a handful of baby spinach, 3-4 garlic cloves, and .25 c each Parmesan and bread crumbs.  Oh, and I drizzled in a little olive oil.  It was very green, but very tasty..

Now as for the rolling.  I took each slice of meat, seasoned it with salt and pepper and slathered the whole thing with my parsley/cheese/breadcrumb concoction.  I secured each roll with butchers' twine and seared them in pan on the stove.  

When the braciole was  browned on all sides, I transferred them to my crockpot and deglazed my pan.  I used some reserved tomato "liquid" thinned with water for the deglazing as that liquid with all the fond was next into the crockpot.  Followed by 3 c of my tomato sauce and 1 c of crushed tomatoes.

And there they have been for the last 4 hours on low.

The braciole will be served with spaghetti.

Side Dishes--

Salad.  I should say saladS as mine is different from Josh's  Josh has a chopped spinach salad.  I tried my best to emulate Wildfire on this.  I chopped the the egg, the mushrooms, and the pancetta.  "Pancetta?" you say.  It's an ITALIAN meal, it should have Italian bacon.  I made him croutons in the grease from the pancetta.  And then I made him a mustard vinaigrette.  I'll warm it before I serve it.

My salad?  Thanks for asking,  I've been enjoying greens with fresh salsa as the dressing.  Tonight I'll use brushetta.


Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies.  This one I can share a recipe.

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies
Larger Image
2PointsPlus Value
Serves: 24
These cookies are the perfect combination of vanilla and chocolate. If you prefer chewy meringues, make them the day before you plan to eat them.



  • Preheat oven to 200ºF.
  • Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray; coat with a light dusting of flour and shake off excess.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form; gently fold in chocolate and vanilla extract.
  • Drop mixture by heaping tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart, making 24 cookies.
  • Bake until lightly golden and no longer sticky on the surface, about 1 hour. Turn oven off and let cookies sit in oven for 1 hour. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Yields 1 cookie per serving.


  • You can make these cookies mini if you prefer. Just use heaping teaspoons of batter; not tablespoons.
I actually found these a little too sweet. Next time I'll cut the sugar to .75 c. 

So that's whats been cooking in my kitchen today.  How 'bout yours?

happy cooking!