Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eating healthy after the holidays... White Fish with Leek, Tomato & capers... YUM

After the holidays we are all looking to eat a little bit healthier... this is a delicious & easy fish recipe! 

White Fish with Leek, Tomato & Peppers

1 pound White Fish (any fish will do, I just prefer White Fish)
10 Cherry Tomatoes Sliced in half
1 Leek quartered and thinly sliced
1 Anaheim Pepper Diced
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 Tbs White Wine
1 Tbs Old Bay Seasoning
1 Tsp Fresh Dill Chopped
2 Tsp Capers

Cut White Fish into 4 pieces
Spray bottom of Pyrex with non-stick spray
Place fish, skin side down in pan
Sprinkle Old Bay Seasoning over the top of the fish
Add Leeks, Pepper, Tomatoes & Dill on top of fish Squeeze Lemon Juice & add wine over fish

Cook for 10-12 minutes covered in oven on 400 degrees
Uncover and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes until tomatoes and fish turn a golden brown.

Serve with steamed asparagus and rice pilaf...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Stuffed Grapeleaves

Everyone’s got their childhood memories.  For most children in America their earliest or first memories in the kitchen are probably sticking their fingers in some sort of ooey chocolatey batter and licking the bowl clean or eating some raw cookie dough while mom or grandma was making some cookies…. Well folks, I have an entirely different type of “first time in the kitchen” childhood memory.  Stuffed grape leaves. Stuffed grape leaves you say?  Yes…and oh how amazing they were!

I still have the very vivid memory of standing in my grandmother’s kitchen with the leaves all lined up on the counter, the stack of cigar shaped leaves that were already done and running by and stealing a few of them before they were cooked.   She would be screaming as I whizzed by… “Don’t eat them raw! You’re going to get sick!” so began my trek of living on the edge!  I never got sick and still to this day, even when I’m making them myself I steal a few! (I don’t recommend that you do this by the way… you can get sick! HA!)  But back to my point… what was my point… oh! I know, my point was that I never got around to asking her for this recipe, nor did anyone else for that matter… she made them the best! As good as I’ve ever had, and over the years I’ve learned to adjust my recipe to what I think hers tasted like…I think I’ve come close!

Making stuffed grape leaves or Sarma as it’s properly called is sort of like the Ceviche I did yesterday… every region has it’s own take on how to do this… some make theirs with only rice and onions, some add parsley, some don’t… some use lamb some use beef… some add coriander some don’t.  It’s all about the region that you are from.

So here it is… the step by step guide with my little tricks for making Grandma Margaret’s Sarma - A.K.A. The best darn stuffed grape leaves you’ll ever eat! (did I just say darn?) 

Armenian Style Stuffed Grapeleaves

1 ½ pounds of ground beef
1 can or 16 oz of plain tomato sauce
2 cups uncooked white rice
½ small onion finely diced
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ lemon juice
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 16oz jar of grape leaves

Preparation of the grape leaves and the meat filling:

Remove the grape leaves from the jar… this takes a little bit of jiggling to get them out… they are packed in brine, I suggest sticking a finger in there, and tilting it to the side to remove all of the liquid first, then gently pull the bunches out.  There should be 2 or 3 neatly folded bundles in there, depending on the size of the leaves.  Drain, open up the bunches and allow them to sit in some clean cold water for a few minutes to remove some of the excess salty-ness.

Once they’ve sat for a few minutes, begin removing the stems from each leave.  (If you leave the stems on, they will be too tough to chew) 

While the grape leaves are soaking, in a separate bowl mix together the beef, rice, spices, lemon juice and ¾ of the can of tomato sauce- reserving ¼ of the can for use later. Now get in there and use your hands and mix mix mix! Making sure everything is combined well. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Get ready to roll….

Place the leave with the shiny side down, vein side up on a flat surface and spread out.  Place about a teaspoon to tablespoon (depends on leave size) and using the tips of your fingers, pinch it outwards until your’e about 2 inches from each edge. 

Fold up the bottom leave

Fold in the sides

Roll upwards tightly.  Don’t roll it up too tight as while the rice and meat are cooking, they will expand and it will tear the leaf or unravel.

Repeat this process with the remaining leaves and meat mixture. (reserving about 5-10 leaves)

Now here comes the tricky part… (as if this wasn’t hard enough!)  If you don’t place your little grape leave cigars properly in the pot while they’re cooking… well, all this is for nothing. Ha ha ha. I’m KIDDING! You’re doing great!

In a large saucepan or medium sized pot, lay a few leaves on the bottom of the pan.  Lay each stuffed grape leave side by side next to each other tightly, seam side up and continue making even layers.  Do not fill it all the way to the rim of the pan, as it will as I said expand and well, you’ll have a mess on your hands… or your stove rather.  Layer about 2 inches from the top of the pan and place a small plate upside down on top of the grape leaves and apply pressure to hold it down.

In a large measuring cup mix together:

2 cups cold water
Remaining tomato sauce
1 teaspoon crushed mint
2 cloves crushed garlic (mortar & pestle it into a paste)
¼ teaspoon cayenne
½ lemon juice

Pour this mixture over the leaves, making sure that they are covered just over the top of the edge of the plate on top.  If you don’t have enough liquid, add more plain water.  Cook on high heat until it comes to a boil and then reduce heat down to a low simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, making sure that the leaves don’t move around inside the pot.
You’ll know it’s cooked once you open it and the rice is cooked.

Allow to sit for a few minutes before removing plate from the top-  remove leaves from the pot and serve with some lemon wedges… or as we do with some plain yogurt on the side.


You can omit the cayenne if it’s too spicy for you.
Look for leaves that aren’t too thick.  Use only the flexible soft leaves
This meat filling can be used to stuff bell peppers, small eggplants, zucchini, or even tomatoes. You’d cook it using the same process.
Once you get the hang of rolling the leaves you’ll be on a roll… ha ha ha (bad joke)
Just know, they don’t have to be perfect!

I hope that you try this recipe… it’s a little bit a work… who am I kidding… it’s work!  But you’ll really love the end result!  I know I always did and still do!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gobble Gobble! Leftover Turkey Thanksgiving Pie

Alright, alright... this is not the leftover turkey dinner that I am speaking of! I hope that none of us, even in our darkest days has to face the wrath of a Hungry Man Roasted Carved Turkey microwavable dinner!!!

But... in about 24 hours it'll all be over. Stuffing, Sweet potatoes, Mashed potatoes, Green beans, Cranberries, and TURKEY!!! AHHH!!! TURKEY! TURKEY! TURKEY! Most of the time we have so much of that left over turkey that we don't know what to do with it and we reheat it and it just becomes dry, chewy and well... almost unrecognizable as what was once our beloved turkey!

I was on the hunt for an easy recipe, because let's face it, who wants to get back in the kitchen after all that cooking the day before! What I came up with is this super easy Turkey Pot Pie. It's not a traditional Turkey Pot Pie, but more like a left over Thanksgiving Dinner in a pie recipe. It's delicious, it's easy and requires almost nothing more than reheating most of your left overs from the day before! I hope you try it!!! Your turkey will be thanking you for if not at the very least allowing him to maintain his integrity!!!

Happy Thanksgiving friends.

Turkey Mashed Pie

Leftover Turkey Meat
1 Cup Diced Celery
1 Cup Diced Onion or Leeks
1-2 Bay Leaves
1 Box Chicken Broth
1 Cup Frozen Peas & Carrots

Left over stuffing

2 Cups Leftover Mashed Potatoes


In a medium sized pot combine all ingredients except mashed potatoes and bring to a boil. Allow turkey to absorb most of the chicken broth until it reduces down by 1/2. This will take approx. 5 to 10 minutes.

Pour mixture into a deep pie dish. Then put a layer of the left over stuffing and make an even layer on top of it. And finally, take the left over mashed potatoes and spoon over the top of the mixture and pat down making an even layer.
(**tip**you can use the back of your spoon to smooth it out)

Place pie onto baking sheet and put in the oven on 400 degrees for 15 min or until top is brown and the filling is bubbling out.

Scoop out and serve hot- you can even put some leftover cranberry sauce on top!

Tuna Tartare with Green Olive Crustini

So I'm about to begin my Thanksgiving cooking and I'm going through all of my recipes and well I came across this one that I just MUST share with you!  It's one of my favorite appetizers and an absolute must if you have guests over that you want to impress!!! 

I'm off to cook!!! 

Make this appetizer... I promise your guests will FLIP! It's not what they'd expect... and the flavors are so mild and blend together so well they'll be surprised when you tell them what's in it!

Tuna Tartare with Green Olive Crustini


  • 1 ¼ lb sushi grade tuna fillet, (Ahi)  finely chopped
  • 1 avocado cut into a medium sized dice
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½  tsp Mixed green, white, pink, and black peppercorn crushed
  • ½ cup finely chopped fennel bulb plus fronds for garnish
  • ¼ to ½  cup fresh lemon juice (depends on how tart you like it)
  • Coarse salt to taste
  • 4 slices of coarse country bread, 4inches square and ½ inch thick, crust removed


  • 1 Tablespoon pine nuts
  • ¾ cup brine-cured green olives, pitted
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

    1. In a medium bowl combine tuna, ¼ cup olive oil and the ground peppercorn to taste, mixing well. If desired cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours to chill.
    2. To make olive spread toast the pine nuts in small frying pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 4 minutes. Pour onto plate to cool. In a blender or food processor combine the nuts, olives, red onion, garlic, and olive oil and process until smooth. Set aside.
    3. Preheat the broiler. Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and toast, turning once, until crisp about 5 minutes total. Let cool and cut into 16 strips about 1 inch thick.
    4. Brush strips with olive oil and spread with the olive spread.
    5. In a small bowl mix together the chopped fennel, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
    6. Just before serving add the fennel mixture to the chilled season tuna mixing well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with fennel fronds. Serve with toasts.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Healthy... useful & healthy recipes for those with heart disease or diabetes

Holiday Healthy... 

Wouldn’t it be brilliant if your Diabetes, High Cholesterol or Blood Pressure were just like a food allergy and you could simply avoid that food, take your meds and you’d be all set? With holiday season rapidly approaching and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years being just around the corner, if you have one of these conditions you may be forced to examine your eating habits and tune into your body and what will keep you healthy.  Special occasions can be challenging, but they aren’t impossible. 

Cooking for someone who has any of these conditions can also pose some challenges.  Here are some fantastic recipes and ideas for a Holiday Feast that’s really delicious for just about anyone.

Holiday Tips:

  1. Remember you are in control!
  2. Don’t obsess over trying to cook the perfect meal for everyone at the table.  Instead create a bunch of small dishes so that everyone can “mix & match” and get what they want out of their meal.
  3. Try preparing some of your old favorite recipes but decrease the fat and sugar by using sugar substitutes and reduced or low fat products.
  4. Don’t go to your holiday party starving! This will cause you to over eat and possibly indulge in a little more pumpkin pie than you’ll really mean to.
  5. Exercise! Keep your body moving for at least 30 minutes a day. This movement will help keep your blood sugar levels controlled and burn those extra calories.

These tips are not meant just for those of you who have Diabetes, High Cholesterol or Blood Pressure… After all, what’s the best, healthiest diet for someone who is living with any of those conditions?  It’s the very same healthy- eating diet and guidelines for someone who doesn’t have them.
I hope you enjoy and try these recipes. They’ll be sure to please even your most hearty holiday eater!

Holiday Feast
Oven Roasted Turkey with Mushroom Gravy
Low-Sugar Cranberry Apple Dressing
Sweet Potato Pie

Oven Roasted Turkey

½          Cup dried cherries
2            Tablespoons olive oil
1            Teaspoons snipped fresh sage
1            10-12 lb Whole Turkey
1            Large onion, quartered

Mushroom Gravy

1½             Cups dried porcini, oyster, shiitake, and/or chanterelle mushrooms
2            Cups of boiling water
½             Cup all-purpose flour
1             Cup Low Sodium/Low Fat Chicken Broth
2            Tablespoons dry sherry
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place dried cherries, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sage in a blender container or food processor bowl.  Blend mixture just until cherries are finely chopped.

2. Slip your fingers between the skin and meat of the turkey just under the breast and loosen the turkey skin. Lift the skin and, using a spatula or spoon, carefully spread the cherry mixture directly over the turkey breast meat. Place the turkey on a rack, breast side up, in a roasting pan. Place the onion quarters inside the cavity of the turkey. Tie the legs together using butchers twine.  Insert a meat thermometer into the thigh portion of the turkey without the thermometer touching the bone. Brush the top of the turkey with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

3. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Roast in preheated oven for 2½ hours. After 2½ hours of cooking, cut the string between the drumsticks so thighs will cook evenly. Uncover; roast 30 to 60 minutes more or until meat thermometer registers 180 degrees farenheight. Remove turkey from oven. Cover; let stand 15 minutes before carving.

Mushroom Gravy…

Meanwhile, place mushrooms in a medium sized bowl. Pour boiling water over mushrooms to cover. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain mushrooms. Strain the mushroom-soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth, paper towels, or a coffee filter and reserve.

Pour pan drippings from turkey into a large measuring cup. Skim and reserve fat from drippings. Pour 1/4 cup of the fat ( if necessary, add butter) into a medium saucepan. Stir in flour.
Add enough mushroom liquid and chicken broth to remaining drippings into a  measuring cup to equal 2 cups. Add broth mixture all at once to flour mixture. Whisk over medium heat to make sure it’s all incorporated well. Cook and continue stirring  over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Stir in mushrooms and sherry. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Turkey & Gravy Make 12 servings.

Per 5 ounce cooked meat and 2 tablespoons gravy, Calories 244, Total Fat 6 grams, (1g saturated fat), Cholesterol 105 mg, Carbohydrate 8 grams, Dietary Fiber 1 gram, Total Sugar 4 grams, Protein 36 grams

Low-Sugar Cranberry-Apple Dressing

1            12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
3            tablespoons sugar
1½             tablespoons spoonable sugar substitute
¼             teaspoon ground cinnamon
2            medium Golden Delicious apples, peeled and diced
2            teaspoons (10 ml) fresh lemon juice

In a saucepan place the cranberries, sugar, sugar substitute, and cinnamon and add water just enough to bring the cranberries to a float. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes and then drain, but leave a small amount of water in the pan.
Add apples and cover mixture for 5 more minutes or until apples are tender.  Stir in lemon juice.
Allow to cool then transfer dressing to a serving bowl. Cover and refigerate for at least two hours.  Serve chilled.
Makes 3 cups

Per 1/4-cup serving:39 calories (0 calories from fat), 0 protein, 0 total fat (0 saturated fat), 10 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, 0 cholesterol, 0 sodium

Sweet Potato Pie

3            tablespoons reduced-fat margarine, softened
¼          cup packed light brown sugar
½          teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼          teaspoon ground ginger
¼          teaspoon salt
¼          teaspoon  ground allspice
1            large egg yolk
2           cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes
1           cup evaporated skim milk
3          large egg whites
1           9-inch unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 350°F
In a large bowl, beat together the margarine, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, allspice, and egg yolk. Mix in sweet potatoes and evaporated milk.
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into sweet potato mixture. Do not over mix.  Pour mixture into the unbaked pie shell.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a rack until ready to cut into wedges to serve. Makes 10 Servings

Per serving: 203 calories (30% calories from fat), 5 g protein, 7 g total fat (2.3 g saturated fat), 32 g carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber, 26 mg cholesterol, 203 mg sodium

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Asparagus & Mushroom Risotto

Risotto is one of those things that when you think about eating it, you might say... I'll only order that in a restaurant, that's "restaurant food" it's too difficult and time consuming to make. Well, you guys know me by now and I'm not gonna lie to you...that's true and not true.
The reality is, risotto happens to be one of the easiest things to make. It's doesn't require a
huge skill level in the kitchen and just about anyone can make it. It also isn't as time consuming as you might think. It takes about 25 minutes, no more than you would normally be taking to make a dinner.... so here's the deal...although you can't just leave the risotto on the cooktop and walk away, you don't have to stand there constantly and stir it to death! You gotta pay attention to it, and you'll even have enough time to prepare other things while you're allowing it to cook
. As long as you get the basic concept of it which is, to allow the risotto to absorb a little broth at a time until it reaches a creamy consistency, you've got it!

Mushroom & Asparagus  Risotto

1 ½ Cups Arborio Rice
6 Cups Chicken Broth
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½-1 Pound of Mushrooms (Assorted- it’s up to you!)
1 Bunch of Asparagus (the tips only) 
½ Cup Dry White Wine
4 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Cream
Salt & White Pepper to taste
1/3 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • In a saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer- leave on the stove simmering
  • In another large sauce pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and stir in the mushrooms & asparagus– allow to sweat for about 3-5 minutes
  • Remove from pan set aside
  • In that same saucepan with the remaining juices from the mushrooms & leek, add Arborio Rice, slowly begin to combine wine and stir the rice constantly until the wine is completely absorbed.
  • Then begin adding chicken broth ½ a cup at a time. Stir constantly until the broth is absorbed fully and repeat until you use all of the chicken broth. This should take approx. 15-20 minutes
  • Remove from heat and add butter, mushrooms & leek with their liquid , cream & the parmesan cheese.
** sidenote**
Types of Mushrooms that you can use: Portobello, White, Shitake, Crimni, Button- For this recipe I think a combo of Portobello & White Mushrooms will be best, although Shitake is pretty darn good too!

What is Arborio Rice? Arborio rice is a variety of short-grained rice that’s used primarily for making risotto. It is always prepared al dente, or slightly firm to the bite.

It is super important to just keep your eye on the risotto, especially once you start getting closer to the stock being fully absorbed… if you don’t you might get some scorching of the rice on the bottom of your pan.

Do not add more ladels of stock before all of it has been mostly absorbed.

And finally… risotto turns really gummy if you let it sit for too long! It should be served right away. Should you want to reheat it if this happens, just add a little stock and heat and stir it until the stock gets reabsorbed and the risotto is creamy again!

Things you can use to accompany with Risotto are: Shrimp or Calamari, Roasted Chicken, Veal Medallions, Pumpkin, Squash, Peas, Prosciutto... I could go on an on....

Please feel free to leave any comments or ideas of your own! If you have any other recipes or stories that you'd like to share with me, please forward them to michelle@foodfromthehearttv.com

Enjoy the season my friends! Stay warm! Eat some soup! Some BUTTERNUT SQUASH & LEEK SOUP that is!!!

Winter has officially arrived... at least as far as I'm concerned!  It's cold and rainy outside and I want some HOT soup!!!! And nothing sounds better to me than two of my favorite fall combos... butternut squash & leeks!!!  This is a truly light, delicious, guilt free recipe for Butternut Squash & Leek Soup.  Oh, did I mention easy too?!

Butternut Squash & Leek Soup

1 Butternut Squash
(or you can buy it pre-packaged and cubed for you during the fall/winter months) 
2 Stalks of Leek 
3 or 4 Stalks of Celery 
1/2 Yellow or Red Bell Pepper
2 Medium Potatoes 
2 Cups Vegetable Stock or Chicken Stock (I use Chicken... but if you want to keep it vegetarian it's great that way too!) 
Pinch of Salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
Drizzle of olive oil

In a large stock pot saute the leek, celery & pepper in the olive oil.  Rough chop all of them- truly it doesn't matter how it's chopped, it's all going in the blender anyways! :-) Let them cook down for a few minutes on medium heat until the celery becomes translucent.  Add the butternut squash and the potatoes (which are peeled and cubed)... the salt & pepper... and then add the stock.  You're going to add enough just to cover the vegetables.  You don't want to add too too much liquid or else your puree will become too watery.  
Allow the soup to cook uncovered on a medium low boil for 20 minutes. 

Here's where the optional ingredients come into play... you could technically just put this all in the blender now and give it a little blend until it's a smooth consistency... and it would be INCREDIBLE!  It's one of my favorite soups that are just all natural and the vegetables really speak for themselves.  But... if you wanted to throw it over the edge just a bit... add a pat of butter and a couple tablespoons of heavy cream to it.  It will be smooth & creamy and oh so good!  

Enjoy the season my friends! Stay warm! Eat some soup! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

My absolute favorite Pumpkin Pancakes!

You all know me by now... I'm a sucker for anything pumpkin, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg... this has it all!  It's the start of the holidays and these delectable pancakes are no exception!  I love them... and so will you! 

My absolute favorite Pumpkin Pancakes!!!!

In large bowl mix:
2 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

In small bowl, mix:
2 slightly beaten egg whites
1 1/2 c. milk 
2 tbsp. oil
1/2 c. canned pumpkin puree
        Add small bowl mixture to
        large bowl. Stir just until moistened.  Don't over mix!  Heat griddle, brush lightly with oil. Pour batter by 1/4 cup onto hot griddle.
        Makes 16 pancakes.

        ***** side note*****

        The key to making perfect light pancakes is don't over flip them! I used to be a bad flipper and my pancakes never turned out fluffy! Thanks to this great trick I learned a few years ago, I no longer flip! Wait till you see a good amount of air bubbles that come up to the top of the uncooked side of the pancake... then FLIP!

        And lastly, one of my favorite things to do with these pancakes is to mix the remaining half of the canned pumpkin with some whipped cream and use that as a topping for the pancakes while they are hot right off the griddle... it becomes all gooey and is a great alternative to using maple syrup... although that tastes pretty good on top of it as well! Crush some pecans and sprinkle them on top and you have a breakfast made in heaven!!!

        Please feel free to email me any stories, memories or recipes that you would like to recreate at michelle@foodfromthehearttv.com!