Healthy Recipes to Keep You Fit and Fabulous

Posts tagged ‘cooking’

Cooking in College: Another dish to keep you skinny and your wallet fat.

According to my feedback from the last post, you guys are fans of cheap dinners!  I’ve decided to add a Part 2 to my affordable feasts.

Pork chops are really one of the best things you can pick up at the grocery store.  I always buy the lean cuts, in packs of four.  They are just as versatile as chicken, but pork is actually almost always cheaper than chicken breasts, at least, that’s how it is at my grocery store.  Our pork chops cost us about $4.

Because Corey and I are leaving town tomorrow, our refrigerator and pantry are as bare as can be, so it was actually a little challenging to come up with a dinner last night.  What I came up with was definitely a random assortment, but it turned out to be a great dinner.

I meant to write a post a few weeks ago about my recently discovered obsession with a little something called polenta.  Polenta is made with cornmeal, and when it is cooked, it has a similar appearance and texture to mashed potatoes or grits.  However, there is another way to prepare it- you can pour it into a baking dish and stick it in the fridge until it sets, then cut it into squares or rounds and grill it.  I call this the restaurant preparation, because I feel like that is something you would only see during a fancy 5-course dinner.  Hey, if you want to impress somebody, give it a try! You can flavor it an endless amount of ways, by adding herbs, cheeses, garlic, bacon- anything you want!  Another bonus? It’s CHEAP! All you need is course ground cornmeal, which should cost around $3 for a medium-sized bag, and several cups of chicken stock ($2-$3), depending on how many cups of cornmeal you add.

Dijon Pork Chops

with Caramelized Balsamic Onions and Garlic Polenta

Servings: 4


For the pork chops:

4 lean cut pork chops

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Cooking spray

salt, pepper, garlic powder

For the onions:

2 tablespoons EVOO

1 large onion, sliced

4 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar


For the polenta:

1 cup coarse ground cornmeal

1 quart chicken stock

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon EVOO

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Season the pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Using the back of a spoon (or a cooking brush, if you have one) spread the Dijon mustard on both sides of each pork chop.



Sprinkle the bread crumbs on both sides of each pork chop, place them in a baking dish and spray each side with cooking spray (to help the bread crumbs brown).  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes (more or less, depending on thickness of the pork).

In an oven-safe pot, heat one tablespoon EVOO over medium heat.  Throw the chopped garlic in the oil for no more than 30 seconds, because it will burn.  Pour the quart of chicken stock into the pot and bring to a boil.

When it is boiling, slowly add the cornmeal, while continuously whisking, to prevent lumps.  Cover the pot and place in the oven for about 15 more minutes (certain types of cornmeal take longer).  Check on it every 5-8 minutes and give it a good stir so it does not stick.

In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO over medium heat.

Throw in the sliced onions, and stir to coat in the oil.  They should begin to brown and caramelize after about 8 minutes (make sure you stir them every so often so they do not burn).

At this point, pour in the balsamic vinegar and give it a stir.  Keep stirring every few minutes until the balsamic thickens and the onions are completely caramelized (about another 6-8 minutes).  When they are done, remove from heat and set aside.

To serve, top the pork chops with the onions.  Serve the polenta on the side.

*Note* If you would like to make the fancy version of the polenta, follow the above directions.  After removing from the oven, lay a sheet of parchment paper down in a 9X13 baking dish.  Pour in the polenta and place in the fridge.  It should be set after about an hour.  Use either a round cookie cuter, a wine glass sprayed with cooking spray, or just your spatula to cut out individual rounds or squares.  Spray each side with cooking spray and place in either a skillet over medium heat or a grill for a few minutes, until slightly browned on each side.




My Favorite Meal: Eggplant Parmesan

My favorite meal of all time is definitely eggplant parmesan.  No matter what Italian restaurant I go to, I can’t seem to steer myself away from ordering it!  However, frying up a vegetable doesn’t exactly count in the healthy eating department.  I still love the taste of eggplant even when it isn’t fried, so I decided to invent a healthy version of my favorite meal.

Healthy Eggplant Parmesan

Servings: 4


2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced into rounds

2 cups of your favorite healthy tomato sauce (meaning no added sugar or cheese),

OR use my Simple, Cheap Tomato Sauce recipe (see previous post)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2/3 cup Fat-Free Shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

You will need a 9X9 baking dish


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If using my Simple, Cheap Tomato Sauce recipe, make this ahead of time and set aside.  After peeling and slicing the eggplant into rounds, pre-heat an indoor grill (or use your outdoor grill).  Spray each slice with Pam or non-stick spray.  Sprinkle the slices with salt, pepper, oregano, basil and garlic powder. Grill the rounds in batches (not overlapping), about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, until tender.  Remove from grill.

In a baking dish, pour about 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan and spread around evenly.  Working in layers, place as many eggplant rounds in the bottom of the pan as you can without overlapping them.  Top with another 1/4 cup of sauce, sprinkle with some of the Parmesan cheese, and then a sprinkle of Mozzarella cheese.  Repeat this process in layers until you have used up all your ingredients (should make about 3 layers).

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Serve over whole-wheat pasta and a sauteed vegetable on the side.


Welcome to Cooking With Carly!

I have always wanted to start a cooking blog, so here I am, finally doing it!  I guess this is what life as a post-graduate college student is all about- doing the things you’ve always wanted to do.

For those who don’t already know me, here is a little bit about me:

I am 22-years-old, and I recently graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Communications.  I changed my major so many times throughout college that it actually started to get funny- I went from a Vocal major, to Journalism, Radio-Television, Sociology, and finally, I decided to stick with Communications.  Some people can’t figure out what they want to do because they don’t know what they like- my problem has always been that I like too many things!  So, my new philosophy is why not do as much of the things I enjoy as I possibly can?

So, how did I start cooking in the first place? Well, as much as I hate to admit it, during my first semester of college I gained a whopping 20 pounds.  My diet consisted of every fast-food imaginable, sometimes eating it up to four times a day!  I was extremely inactive, spending most of my time ASLEEP.  During my second semester, I didn’t actually set out to lose weight, but it ended up happening on its own, simply because I taught myself how to cook!  I started watching the Food Network and fell in love with Rachael Ray.  I decided to try one of her recipes that I watched, even though I had never attempted to make any kind of complete meal in my life.  I’ll never forget it- it was a spinach and cheese “pasta bake”.  It turned out perfectly!  I was so amazed by how easy the meal came together, and  how much fun I had making it, that I was immediately hooked on cooking.  Slowly but surely, I began trying out new meals from the Food Network chefs, and I also added the gym to my daily routine.  By the end of my Sophomore year, I had lost 20 pounds and found myself competing for the title of Miss Florida, with a large part of my pageant platform centering around my cookbook-in-the-making, entitled “Carly’s Cooking for College”.

I know that cooking can seem to be a daunting task for many people, but I am living proof that anyone can do it!  I would love for this blog to be a stepping stone for first-time cooks, and a go-to place for people longing for easy, healthy meals to make for themselves, as well as friends and family.

I fully welcome any questions, comments or suggestions that you may have.  I hope you enjoy my recipes!

Competing at Miss Florida

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