Sunday, January 18, 2009

Brussels Sprouts, Tomato Soup & Three Pepper Pork

Here's a recipe I made for Christmas dinner and I liked it so much, I made it again last week. I found this by searching for Brussels sprouts recipes on This one comes from Sunny Anderson and the only change I made is to use turkey bacon instead of regular bacon. I liked this so much, I ate the leftovers straight from the fridge!

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Turkey Bacon
Yield 4-6 servings

6 strips turkey bacon (I prefer Butterball)
2 tablespoons butter

1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved

1/2 large onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice turkey bacon into small pieces and cook in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. In the same pan, melt the butter. Add onions and Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss turkey bacon back into pan.

Two weeks ago, DH and I were watching Ultimate Recipe Showdown on Food Network, and one of the dishes made was an Heirloom Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Chunky Tomato Bacon Soup. It looked SOOOO good, I wanted to try making it fit into my eating program. I didn't have to make too many changes, but I used less butter and oil, swapped out the bacon for turkey bacon, used Ezekiel Bread and mozzarella cheese for the sandwich (which is allowed on the FLT program) and traded the heavy cream for 2% milk. And I didn't want to spring for fresh herbs, so I bought crushed tomatoes with basil in them and used dried thyme, oh, and I nixed the sugar. OK, so maybe I DID change a lot - LOL.

Lightened Up Grilled Cheese and Chunky Tomato Bacon Soup

Tomato Soup:
Yield 4 servings

4 slices turkey bacon
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes with basil (I used
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 shallot, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3 ounces tomato paste

1/2 cup 2% milk
1 cup chicken broth

Cook the bacon on a paper towel-lined plate in the microwave for about 1 minute, let cool and slice. If you want a smooth soup, puree the crushed tomatoes and set aside. In a heavy stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the shallots. Cook until soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook, taking care to not let it burn. Add the thyme, bacon and tomato paste and stir together letting it cook for a few minutes. Add the can of crushed tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes, then add the milk and broth. Add salt to taste and bring to a simmer before serving. I sprinkled this with some grated Parmesan cheese.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich:
Yield 1 sandwich (2 servings on FLT)

1 teaspoon butter, softened

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, plus more if desired

1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese

2 slices
Ezekiel Bread
2 strips turkey bacon, cooked in the microwave and cut in half

2 thick slices vine ripened tomato

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Mix butter, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and Parmesan together and spread on one side of each slice of bread. If desired, add more Dijon to the other sides. Place one slice, buttered side down, in a small skillet over medium heat. Add half the cheese, the bacon, the tomato (seasoned with salt and pepper if desired) and the rest of the cheese, then top with the other slice of bread, buttered side up. Cover and cook until the first side is golden brown, then flip and cook the other side.

I saved the other half of this sandwich for lunch the next day with some more soup, and I was surprised at how well it reheated. DH actually tried both of these (he has very particular tastes - LOL) and he liked them! I didn't puree the crushed tomatoes because I wanted a chunky soup, but it was a little TOO chunky for a tomato soup, and DH suggested it would make a great pasta or pizza sauce! So next time I make this as a soup, I'll puree the tomatoes.

Meanwhile, I used the leftovers for whole wheat penne (served with sauted zucchini and green peppers), and then for pizza (which I'll show in another post - LOL)

Another dish I made this week was one I have made before from my Quick & Easy Cookbook from the American Heart Association. This one is actually the cover recipe and is really tasty! The only changes I made was to use a little olive oil instead of the vegetable oil spray and to substitute Truvia for the sugar.

Sugar-Free Three-Pepper Pork

Yield 4 servings

1 pound lean boneless pork loin chops, all visible fat removed

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 medium poblano or anahiem chili pepper, chopped
1 packet Truvia
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon finely shredded ginger root
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Cut pork into strips and set aside. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add pork strips to hot skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until done. Remove from skillet. Add bell pepper strips and chili pepper to hot skillet. Cook about 3 minutes or until bell peppers are slightly tender but still crisp. In a small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients. Add to skillet with peppers and meat. Cool and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes.

I ate this with some red rice and green beans with almonds. Yummy!

Something else DH thought I should add to this blog is the success I'm having with the First Line Therapy program. I started with this on October 8, 2008, and as of my last weigh-in on January 8th, I'd lost 25 pounds! YAY!

Friday, January 2, 2009

A New Year, A New Blog!

I've been wanting to start a food blog for a few months now and finally decided the new year would be the perfect time!

Here's a recipe I've made three times already this season. I wish I could say it was mostly for gifts, but the truth is, I really, really like these nuts - they're addictive! Slightly sweet, slightly spicy, slightly salty and slightly herby, they are a perfect snack, and eaten in moderation are very good for you. Of course, I'm still working on the moderation part! LOL

I got the original recipe from a friend when I lived in Minnesota and have made it every Christmas since then. This year, since the only FirstLine Therepy approved sweetener is Stevia, I tried it with my favorite brand, Truvia, and it was great! If you don't have blood sugar issues, you can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar for the Truvia. The fresh thyme is a must though!

Sugar-Free Gifted Nuts

4 cups raw nuts (I use 1/2 pecans and 1/2 almonds)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely snipped fresh thyme
1/2 packet Truvia
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. (For ease in cleaning, I line the sheet with aluminum foil.) Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes until lightly toasted.

Meanwhile, melt butter, salt, Truvia and cayenne together (I do this in the microwave at low power). Add thyme. Toss with hot nuts and let cool. Try not to eat them all in one sitting!

And something I tried on New Year's Eve was an almost sugar free root beer made with Truvia. The Root Beer Concentrate has some corn syrup, but you use such a small amount that I didn't feel it would be TOO detrimental to me, and sometimes, I just want a pop! This isn't something I'd have all the time, but it was a fun treat!

The original recipe comes from More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur (recipe for A&W Root Beer). If you want to make it with sugar, substitute 3/4 cup for the Truvia.

Almost Sugar Free Home Made Root Beer

12 packets Truvia
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon root beer concentrate (McCormick is best)
1 liter cold club soda

Dissolve the Truvia in the hot water. Add the root beer concentrate and let cool. Combine the root beer mixture with the cold club soda. Drink immediately or store in refrigerator in tightly covered container.

And to add a little veggies to the mix, here's a salad I made for dinner tonight. The original recipe comes from one of my all time favorite cookbooks called A Pinch of Salt Lake by the Junior League of Salt Lake City, Inc. This was the first joint gift my husband and I were given on the Valentine's Day before we got married (almost 20 years ago!) by my parents. Everything I've ever made from it has been exceptional.

I added some sauteed turkey cutlet to this to give me some protein. The only change I made was the Truvia in the dressing and I cut the fruit into a large dice. Again, if you want to use sugar, substitute 1 scant tablespoon brown sugar for the Truvia. I think the next time I make this, I'll reduce the amount of oil and use all olive oil.

Tossed Winter Salad with Sugar Free Poppy Seed Dressing

Yield 8 servings

1/2 head iceburg lettuce
1/2 head red leaf lettuce
3 pink grapefruit, segmented with membrane removed
1 fresh pear, thinly sliced
1 avocado, sliced
6 green onions (green tops only) cut into 2-inch matchstick-size strips

Sugar Free Poppy Seed Dressing:
1 clove garlic
1-2 green onions or shallots (I used green onion)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/4 packet Truvia
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Dash of Tabasco sauce
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Prepare dressing first to allow to chill. Chop onions and garlic in a food processor. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and process quickly. Transfer dressing to a covered jar and refrigerate several hours before serving.

Break lettuce into bite-sized pieces and place on 8 plates (or place in a large salad bowl). Assemble fruit over lettuce. Place green onion on top. Add just enough dressing to salad to moisten slightly.