Healthy Recipes to Keep You Fit and Fabulous

Archive for the ‘Date Night Dinners’ Category

B.U.I.

Blogging Under the Influence.  Is there some type of virtual infraction issued for this?   Guess we’ll find out!

Before I get to the good stuff, let’s talk about breakfast and lunch.  I had to teach today, so breakfast and lunch were kind of as easy and boring as it can get:

Breakfast

I got up at 6:30AM and made a bowl of Quaker Weight Control Oatmeal, topped with sugar free maple syrup:

Lunch

For lunch, I packed my adorable Vera Bradley lunch bag (Thanks, Mom!) with a pre-made tupperware full of broccoli slaw and chopped almonds, topped with Kraft Toasted Sesame Dressing, and a side of OIKOS Greek Caramel Yogurt:

Vera + Tupperware + Yogurt

I was so excited when I saw that one of my students had the same lunch bag as me, so I tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Hey! We have the same lunch bag!”  She gave me a weird look and hurried away.  Apparently, it’s not cool to match the substitute teacher.

Dinner

I want to address my thoughts on healthy eating and the weekend.

Life as a post-college graduate hasn’t exactly been the cake-walk I’d always imagined.

Now that I’m paying for my own post-graduate classes and taking a full-time courseload, working as much as I can, and worrying about my own bills, the weekend means more to me now than it ever has.

All we have are those 2 1/2 fun days!  That’s why I tend to loosen the healthy eating reigns during the weekends.  I’ve really been trying to not go too crazy, but it just doesn’t make sense to deprive myself of the good things in life!  There is definitely a balance to be found between living a healthy lifestyle and enjoying life’s indulgences.

If you’re actively trying to lose weight, then the weekends are a time of focus and continued effort in your weight loss goals.  However, if you are at a healthy and happy place in your life, I think you can afford a “free” day or two in your schedule.  This is tricky for anyone, especially me, but I think I’ve finally gotten to a place where I understand how to balance these one or two free days into my lifestyle.  Caution: the following drinks and meals are NOT by any means low-calorie!

I don’t know when I started loving beer, but I do.   I like to try all different types, and so does Corey.  It’s one of our favorite pass times!  To start our “Friday Funday”, we headed over to my favorite restaurant, Mitchell’s Fish Market. We indulged in my favorite appetizer in the world, Mitchell’s Crab & Spinach dip.  We also enjoyed Happy Hour drinks: Chardonnay for me, Magic Hat #9 Draft for Corey.   That crab dip is to die for.  (Confession: At this point, I was too embarrassed to take pictures of our drinks and appetizer, because we were sitting at the bar in front of everyone! I’ll get there one day….or maybe after a few drinks…)

After happy hour, we debated about new places to try out for our actual dinner.  We settled on one that we’ve been talking about for months:

Shipyard is a brewery/restaurant.  We browsed the gift shop while we waited for our lobster buzzer to go off:

Beer Here!

Lobsta Buzza

This little entity alone was enough to make me want to come back!

We sampled a beer that was on display while we waited:

Sampling Shipyard Expo

Please note how tightly Corey is hugging the lobster buzzer.  I think he wanted to bring it home.

When we got seated, I ordered a Flight of Beers which included:

Shipyard Blue Fin Porter, Shipyard Light, Shipyard Expo, Shipyard IPA...have I told you how GREAT you look lately?!

For an appetizer, we shared the White Bean Hummus:

White bean Hummus

The hummus was not good.  It was more of a “bean dip” than a hummus, and I hate bean dip.  I also wasn’t a fan of the crostini’s it was served with-hummus should always be served with some type of pita, don’t you think?

For our meal, we split a flatbread:

Mmm...meaty!

I kind of forget what the name of this was, but I know it had a lot of meat- salami, capicola and proscuitto.  I would never order this normally, but a) it was date night which = compromise, and b) Shipyard has an awesome deli that is part of the restaurant, so I trusted their meats and was interested to try this particular creation.

While Corey got the car, I snuck back into the gift shop, and I returned with some delicious treats for us:

Jane's Shortbread Cookies + Box of Shipyard Mini Cupcakes

Mini Cupcakes

The shortbread was devoured in literally 2 seconds.   Even after Corey told me he “doesn’t even like shortbread”.  HA! It was so amazing.  Our cupcake selection included 1 strawberry cheesecake (yuck, I gave it to Corey), 2 mint chocolate (yum!), and 1 cookies ‘n’ cream cheesecake (double yum!).

After our trip to Shipyard, we decided to head to a brand new place that opened in our neighborhood, called “CaddyShanks“.  It’s a virtual golf bar, but we weren’t there to hit balls.  We went to watch the Orlando Magic play the OKC Thunder!  We sampled a few different beers and then headed home around 9:30.

MORE Shipyard beer?!

Stay tuned for some serious foodie blogging tomorrow, because we are going to our neighborhood’s Chili Cook Off to sample LOTS of different eats!

Hope you’re having a fun start to your weekend!

Best Dinner EVER! Scallop Risotto served with Roasted Butternut Squash, Broccoli and Sweet Onions

I’m never one to toot my own horn, but this is definitely one of the best dinners I have ever eaten.  Corey and I stopped by our local fish market this afternoon to pick up some fresh seafood for this week’s dinners.  We are big fans of scallops, and they were having a sale on bay scallops, so we decided to bring some home.  Bay scallops are the small ones, not the big diver scallops that you get at fancy restaurants (which are also delicious, of course!).  I often use bay scallops for pasta dishes, but Corey was actually the one who suggested we make a risotto with our scallops.  The wheels started turning in the kitchen part of my brain, and this recipe was born!

I think most people automatically assume risotto is a very fattening dish, because of its creamy texture and rich flavor.  However, there is not an ounce of cream in this recipe!  The creaminess comes from the starches in the rice that develop from the continuous stirring that you have to do when making risotto.  I love dishes that taste fattening but really aren’t!

I had a bunch of vegetables that I bought last week at the produce market that needed to be used up, so instead of just making my usual roasted broccoli, I decided to throw in a Vidalia onion and some chunks of butternut squash.  They added great color to my plate and were oh-so-flavorful!

I have to warn you, this dish is a major arm workout! You really can’t leave the stove for the 20 minutes this takes to cook, because you have to keep stirring everytime you add liquid to the pot.  It’s worth the effort!

Scallop Risotto


Servings: 4

Ingredients:

3/4 pound bay scallops, rinsed and patted dry

2 cups Arborio rice

8 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

6 tablespoons EVOO, divided into 4 and 2

1 celery stalk, diced

salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons Smart Balance spread

1 lemon

Directions:

You will need two pots for this dish.

In a larger pot, heat the 4 tablespoons EVOO over medium heat.  Add the celery and onion to the pot, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  In the other pot, pour in the 8 cups of chicken stock and heat over medium until hot.  Add the garlic to the pot with the celery and onion.  Cook for a minute.

Drunk Rice

 

Pour in the white wine and cook, stirring continuously, until almost all the liquid is evaporated.

Add one cup of chicken stock to the pot, and continue stirring until almost all the liquid is absorbed by the rice.  Repeat this step for about 20 minutes, or until you taste the rice and it is cooked but still has a “bite” to it.  Remove from heat.  Add the parmesan cheese and the butter and stir together.  Cover with a lid and set aside.

In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO over medium-high heat.  Season the scallops with salt.  Add the scallops to the skillet and sear on one side for about a minute.  Turn over and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.  Squeeze the lemon over the scallops.  Add the scallops to the risotto and combine.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Serve with an extra sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Broccoli and Sweet Onions


Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes

2 cups fresh broccoli florets

1 1/2 Vidalia onions, peeled and cut into wedges

3 tablespoons EVOO

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons EVOO

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  On a baking sheet, lay out the vegetables in one layer.  Pour EVOO over top of the veggies, and sprinkle with the salt and garlic powder.  Use your hands to toss everything together.  Place in the oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 425, use a spatula to flip the vegetables, and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.


It’s Not Delivery…Because You Made it Yourself! Recipe: Broccoli Pizza

I got the inspiration for this recipe from one of my favorite sites that I’ve mentioned before. I changed a few things about it and added my own touches to fit my tastes.  It’s very easy to make, especially when you get help from the store-bought pizza dough!  Pizza has a bad reputation, but it really can be good for you with a few modifications.  First, it is ALWAYS better to get “thin crust”, even when you are ordering out.  Less dough = less calories.  Second, skip the fatty meats and extra cheeses, and try ordering as many veggies as you can.  That’s why I love this recipe- it has 2 cups of broccoli on top!  The dough that I used for this recipe was Pillsbury’s Refrigerated Thin Pizza Crust.  However, if you can find it, it is much better to use a whole-wheat dough (I was very upset that my store didn’t have it!)

Broccoli Pizza

Servings: 12 slices

Ingredients:


1 roll of Pillsbury Refrigerated Thin Pizza Crust

2 cups broccoli florets, cooked in boiling water until tender

2 cups Fat Free Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1/3 cup pre-made Pesto (I used Spice World brand, found with the pre-chopped jars of garlic)

1/4 cup Reduced Fat Feta Cheese

Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)

salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spread the dough out on a cookie sheet (sprayed with non-stick spray), and pre-bake the dough according to package directions, 5 minutes.  Take the dough out of the oven.  Cook the broccoli florets in boiling water for about 4-5 minutes, until tender.  Drain and pat dry.

Spread the pre-baked dough with the pesto in an even layer.

Spread the broccoli on top of the pesto in another even layer.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Sprinkle the Mozzarella and Feta cheeses on top.  Bake for another 10 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.  Sprinkle individual slices with Parmesan cheese, if you want.  Serve hot!

 

 

Date Night Dinner: Beef Bourguignon

Ok, so I know the name of this dish is enough to send any first-time cook running in the other direction, but don’t worry- the name is just a cover-up for how simple this dish is! This is actually my mom’s recipe. She made it for my dad first, then she made it for my uncle when they were staying up in the mountains at our house in Boone, NC.  It was quite a hit. She convinced me to give it a try, and now it is one of our favorites!  Just follow each step to a T, and you’ll be amazed at how good it turns out! The most fun part about making this was watching my fiance drink glass after glass of the burgundy…lol. He said it felt sophisticated because it “comes in a jug”.  I have to warn you, this doesn’t fall under the category of “healthy”…but it’s so worth the splurge!

Mom’s Beef Bourguignon


Servings: 8

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

3 slices bacon, diced

2 lbs. boneless beef stew meat, cubed

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 1/4 cup burgundy, plus more as needed

1/2 cup water, plus more as needed

2 beef boullion cubes

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 small bay leaf

1 cup frozen pearl onions

1 package whole wheat egg noodles

Directions:

Melt butter over medium high heat in large saucepan with lid.

Saute mushrooms 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms; set aside.

Add bacon to pan, cook, stirring for 3 minutes, until crisp.  Remove to paper towels; set aside.

Add meat to drippings in pan, brown well.

Stir in flour, garlic, tomato paste, wine, water, bouillon cubes, sugar, salt, thyme, bay leaf and pepper.  Cover and simmer, stirring occassionally 2 hours (if liquid evaporates too much add more water or wine).

Add onions, reserved mushrooms and bacon.  Simmer 1 hour longer.

Cook egg noodles according to package directions.  Serve over the cooked noodles.

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