Thursday, June 30, 2011

Spinach Mashed Potatoes

I've been looking for ways to lighten up the mashed potatoes we both love by stretching the potato part with other veggies. Our first attempt was broccoli mashed potatoes, and they were delicious with some pureed broccoli and garlic added in. Last night, we made spinach mashed potatoes that were even better.

We love the chance to put all our veggies together on the plate, and I can only imagine that adding low-calorie veggies into traditional mashed potatoes is also a great plan for parents with picky eaters (I was one of those eaters in my younger days!). Even better, you get all the comforting mashed potato flavor and texture with a bit less starch and a lot more nutrition.

Without further fuss: spinach mashed potatoes!

2 large baking potatoes, peeled, rinsed, thinly sliced
2 c. chopped frozen spinach
1 T. Smart Balance butter
1/2 t. garlic powder
1 T. cream
1/4 c. 2% milk
2 T. light sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste (these can take a bit of salt with all the veggies)

Place potatoes into water and bring to boil. Let boil for 10 minutes. Drain. Return potatoes and rest of ingredients to pan and mash with a hand masher. Turn on the heat underneath these for about five minutes to heat through. Give potatoes one final mash once hot and serve.

These potatoes have a lovely spinach color and a delicious consistency.  Wonderful with a chicken breast or a few slices of turkey breast (what we had last night).

Birthday Chocolate Cuppies

We love cupcakes! On vacation a few weeks ago, we had the most delicious Oreo cupcakes that had chocolate and vanilla swirled batter and a delicious Oreo buttercream. I mean, it was a cupcake that makes you appreciate sugar in a whole new way. But since we've both been focusing more on our eating habits, we decided to reinvent our birthday cupcake tradition. For my birthday (the big 30!), I decided to use this recipe as a base and experiment to make it a little different: Hungry Girl's Yum Yum Brownie Muffins. Why not indulge minus the guilt, right?

I tweaked the recipe a bit, as I always do when I'm borrowing one, but the results were so delicious that we'd never go back to regular cupcakes!! Hungry Girl has the best tips and inspired this dish!!

Chocolate Cuppies

1 box chocolate cake mix (we used Devil's Food)
1/2 large can pumpkin puree (not sweetened)
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1/2 t. almond extract (really brings out great flavor in chocolate!!)
2 T. cooled brewed coffee

Mix all together. This batter is going to be stiff--don't frest. Pour into 12 lined muffin cups. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-18 minutes, or until toothpick tester comes out clean. (Set the timer for a few minutes below and check these. You don't want to overbake.) Remove from oven and let cool. These are so moist and rich--decadent!

Cream Cheese Frosting

3 3/4 c. cool whip topping, frozen
3/4 c. whipped cream cheese
3/4 c. marshmallow fluff

Mix all ingredients together and use to frost the cupcakes. I could eat this out of the bowl, but it's so much better to have it with the moist cupcake. This recipe makes enough for all your cuppies, but frost them as you want to serve them. This frosting wouldn't do well to sit on the cakes in the fridge. If you'd like, garnish with chocolate jimmies or shredded dark chocolate. We are going to try a lighter version of another flavor for Doug's impending birthday.

By my calculations, one frosted cupcake has about 230-250 calories depending on the frosting amount. Don't quote me on it--I'm not a nutritionist. But what I do know is that these are so good that you'll never want to go back to those calorically expensive cupcakes in the bakery.


Grilled Zucchini Kabobs

Grilled zucchini can be so-so or one of the highlights of the meal. Sometimes it tastes soggy or dry, so it can definitely be a hit-or-miss veggie. We try to make it a highlight with this recipe.

4 medium zucchini, cut into 3/4 inch rounds.
1/4 c. Italian dressing
1 t. oregano
2 red peppers, cut into chunks
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese

Wet wooden kabob skewers for 30 minutes in water. Remove from water and then thread with zucchini and peppers in alternating order. Place kabobs on foil-lined platter and top with dressing and oregano.

Grill, turning once, for about 10 minutes (or longer if you like zucchini very soft). Remove from heat and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. This looks so nice on a plate next to our flank steak.

Grapefruit Flank Steak

Ruby grapefruit are fast becoming a favorite at our house. Crisp and refreshing, they pick me up in the middle of the afternoon and make a lovely, bittersweet dessert. When I'm cooking, I don't always want to go get a lemon or lime if I don't have it handy in the fruit bowl. So we've been putting more grapefruit (which we always have around) in everything we cook.

This recipe is the happy product of using grapefruit juice as a flank steak marinade. With ruby grapefruit so readily available in markets, it's an easy, fun twist on traditional steak.

2 lbs. flank or skirt steak (or any cut that's thin and ripe for marinating)
Juice of one whole red grapefruit
3 T. worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. cumin
1/8 t. chili powder

Place all ingredients in sealed gallon bag, and massage to marinate. Place in fridge for 1-3 hours to marinate. When you're ready to grill, remove steak, and place on hot grill for 3 minutes/side, depending on desired doneness. Doug would like it if we threw the meat on for 30 seconds a side! Discard marinade.

This is so good with grilled peppers and zucchini and a few tortillas. Yum!!