Meatballs are crowd-pleasers, whether it’s just you and your kids or a group of your besties. They can be shaped small and served with toothpicks as a fun appetizer, or made larger and nestled over pasta, rice or mashed spuds for a hearty and comforting meal. Since they’re also endlessly versatile, I’ve created three sauces – all in an effort to inspire you to make them for dinner or plan a party around them. Yep, they’re that good. Beef or turkey, you make the call.
For my Healthy Eats posts, I seem to be on a roll when it comes to revamping America’s favorite restaurant fare. That said, I couldn’t forget the amazing egg roll. When I was pregnant with BOTH of my boys, I craved egg rolls like there was no tomorrow. Thankfully, I lived within walking distance to a fabulous Asian restaurant. When cravings struck, I took a stroll. Turns out, it’s a good thing I hoofed it; one egg roll (an appetizer) dishes up 1/3 of your salt intake for the day. And, of course, I always ate two. Here are the rest of the stats for the average egg roll:
1 Egg Roll:
Total Fat: 8-15 grams
Saturated Fat: 4-5 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 16-33 grams
Sugars: 2-4 grams
Protein: 8-17 grams
Sodium: 390-580 milligrams
Cholesterol: 20-40 milligrams
Fiber: 1-2 grams
For you egg-roll-cravers out there, I’ve got the perfect recipe. The filling is a simple and sensational blend of sautéed chicken, cole slaw mix (cabbage and carrots), rice vinegar and sesame oil. The golden-brown egg rolls are baked not fried and served with a tangy soy-mirin-cilantro dipping sauce. You can actually enjoy TWO egg rolls for the calories of ONE restaurant roll (and just 3 grams of fat). Pregnant or not, they’re sure to become your favorite. Oh, and make a big batch because they freeze really well (freeze them before baking). You’ll definitely want lots on hand for last minute cravings (and houseguests).
Ever seen those tubes of pre-cooked polenta in the store and thought, “Cool, but what the heck would I do with that?” Prepared polenta is your best “kitchen buddy” because you can skip the time-consuming process of making polenta from scratch AND you get a cornmeal-based dish with dozens of options. Think of polenta as a creative, fiber-rich alternative to your traditional starch – pasta, rice, potatoes, bread. Since tubed polenta is pre-cooked, you simply slice and reheat by sauteing, grilling, roasting, broiling or even microwaving. Once the slices are tender on the inside and caramelized on the outside, top them with just about anything – your favorite sauce, vegetable, meat, seafood and/or cheese. You can even use cubes of polenta in vegetarian recipes that call for tofu. Check out my recipes below: In the first, the polenta is grilled and topped with Parmesan-spiked creamed spinach and the second is seared and then topped with Caprese-style toppings. Got fun ideas of your own? Send them my way!
Everyone loves chips. The salt. The crunch. The flavor. What most people don’t love is the fat, calories and guilt that go along with most chips. Fried chips, that is. I’ve been baking chips for years and everyone adores them. I’ve also been changing up flavor combinations and wanted to share my three favorites. First, my kale chips; crisp and light with a touch of crunchy sea salt. Next, I coat my sweet potato chips with maple syrup and kosher salt, which creates a wonderful contrast of sweet and salty in every bite. Last, my Yukon gold chips. I add curry for its warmth and distinct flavor. Enjoy every chip without guilt and then send me YOUR favorite chip recipes!
As a kid, I always knew when my mom cleaned out the fridge because we had a frittata for dinner. It’s the best way to empty your veggie and deli drawers while making a fabulous meal. A frittata is the Italian version of an omelet, but it’s heartier and easier to make. The egg mixture (spruced up with ingredients that vary from vegetables to meats to cheeses) is cooked in a heavy skillet until almost firm (not runny like an omelet, and not folded either) and then finished under the broiler (to cook the top). Since you’re working with eggs, your recipe options are wildly versatile. My frittata is loaded with artichokes and parmesan cheese (like the classic dip, only baked with eggs). It’s lighter than normal because I replaced 1 egg with 2 egg whites and used nonfat milk instead of heavy cream or half & half. I also skipped the step of sautéing onions in oil before adding the egg mixture in order to cut fat and simplify the recipe. This dish is a boiler plate recipe for all your future frittata creations. To change up the veggies, instead of artichokes, substitute 1 cup of sautéed or steamed vegetables like zucchini, asparagus, broccoli or spinach.
Are butter sauces healthy? They can be! Let’s be honest, butter makes sauces silky and smooth. But that doesn’t mean you need the whole stick. The key is adding just enough to make the sauce richer, allowing flavors to linger on your palate longer than they would without fat. Here are two great examples. The noodle dish is a vibrant, Asian dish heightened with the flavors of wasabi and soy. I used wasabi paste but you can make a paste with equal parts wasabi powder and water. For the London broil, lean steak is crusted with cracked peppercorns (which add fantastic flavor and crunch) and then grilled until medium. The steak slices are then drizzled with a lovely tarragon butter sauce. Sounds rich, but check out the calories!
I realize it’s doesn’t get really cold in the desert (where I live), but I’m an east coast native, so I know how bone-chilling February can get. Only two things warm me up when I’m chilled to the core: a hot bath and hot soup. This week, I’m sharing three of my favorite hot soups for cold days. The onion soup is my all-time favorite (it has been, since I was like 7). When you make it, take the time to really caramelize the onions until they’re deep golden brown, like they’ve been dipped in caramel. And, use oven-proof soup bowls so you can melt the cheese under the broiler. For the butternut squash soup, the key is roasting the squash because it caramelizes the flesh and makes it tender and sweet. I also add cumin and ginger before roasting to bring out the warm smokiness of the spices. The Tuscan soup is a hearty blend of ham, beans, kale and sage. I used white beans, but any bean variety will work. Serve with a wedge of toasted Italian bread with olive oil and you’ll be transported to Italy in under 30 minutes.
With brand new TV programming and sports playoffs galore, January is clearly finger-food time. This week, I’m featuring three of my favorite TV snacks. I love hummus, but I prefer it MY way, made with white beans instead of chickpeas. It’s creamier, higher in protein and fiber and lower in fat. An equal amount of traditional hummus has 95 calories (about the same as mine), but less than 2 grams of protein (mine has 5), less than 2 grams of fiber (mine has 5) and 6 grams of fat (mine has less than 3 grams). For the roasted red pepper dip, I added three cheeses: light cream cheese, pepper jack and Parmesan, and then I baked it in the oven to make it gooey and warm. It’s a knock-out for friends and family. The tapenade is a traditional olive dip/spread livened up with fresh parsley, bright lemon and the distinct flavor of anchovies (the anchovies don’t overpower the dip because they balance nicely with the two olive varieties and capers). Serve these at your next cocktail party, football tailgate or book club meeting, or spread any of them on bread, tortillas or inside pita pockets for a killer sandwich or wrap!
Grapefruit season is awesome. The tangy, vitamin C-rich fruit provides a burst of sunshine when the days are short and cold. At home, we enjoy grapefruit halves for breakfast, but I also love using the juice, sections and grated rind in savory dishes. Behold two amazing dishes showcasing these round wonders. The first is a fresh and wonderful baked chicken dish bursting with tart grapefruit, sweet honey and tangy Dijon mustard. The minced onion and garlic create a fabulous crust while lending their own distinct flavors. The second dish is a shrimp salad, loaded with grapefruit, black beans, green onions and cilantro. The vinaigrette is light and refreshing and reminiscent of the Southwest thanks to chili powder and cumin. For a spicy version, add a few dashes of hot sauce. Both dishes use the grated peel, juice and grapefruit sections. Here’s how to get the sections:
Slice off both ends of grapefruit and stand flat on a cutting board, one cut side up (the grapefruit will be standing on the second cut side). Using a sharp knife, cut from the top to the bottom to remove the skin and white portion (pith), exposing (and leaving intact) the flesh and grapefruit sections. Use a sharp knife to cut the grapefruit flesh from each individual section. When the recipe below calls for juice, squeeze what’s left of the grapefruit’s core (the part that held the sections).
I adore roasted garlic – the roasting process takes some of the pungency out of the raw clove and adds a deep rich and sweet quality. There are many techniques for roasting garlic but I think the easiest is wrapping the whole (albeit halved), heads in foil and baking them until golden brown. Once the flesh is tender, you simply squeeze it from the papery skin and you’re off to the races. Try adding roasted garlic to vinaigrettes for another layer of flavor; stir roasted garlic into your favorite cheese fillings for baked ziti, stuffed shells and lasagna; or simply spread the heavenly puree on crackers and serve with cheese and fruit. I pulled two recipes from my latest cookbook, “Robin Takes 5” for this post because they both feature roasted garlic. Since all 500 recipes in the cookbook have 5 ingredients or less, each ingredient truly matters and roasted garlic comes to the party ready to deliver.