Sunday, June 26, 2011

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara (Lighter)

Total Time: 44 minutes
Grade: B
Make Again: Maybe?

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (October 2008)
Recipe Source: America's Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2010

This was good, but maybe more work than I wanted. My bacon always takes longer to cook than they say it will. I may have used thicker bacon though.

I did add some boneless chicken breast to this to add some more protein. It was a good addition, IMO.

Also, I didn't have any evaporated milk on hand, so just used a tiny bit of cream instead.

I was surprised that the leftovers were still good. I thought it would be a gloopy mess, but it wasn't bad. Not as good as fresh, but still quite edible.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Philly Cheesesteaks (Lighter)

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Grade: B
Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (October 2006)
Recipe Source:  Light & Healthy 2010 (The Best of America's Test Kitchen)

1lb. top round steak, cut into strips and partially frozen (25-50 minutes), then shredded with food processor
1 onion chopped (I sliced so I could pick them out later, for my picky eater)
2 teaspoons oil
salt and pepper
5 slices reduced-fat provolone deli-style provolone cheese
4 sub rolls, toasted

Saute the onions over low heat, covered, then add the beef, and cook at higher heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Lower heat and put cheese on top. Serve on bun.


I'm a little bit excited about this recipe, which may seem a little strange, since I only gave this recipe a B. However, the concept of the recipe is what is great, and it tasted really, really good, and it is "light".

The fact that I couldn't make the cheese gooey and melt nicely like the recipe suggested it would is why I don't give this recipe an A. The recipe suggests you should be able to add a lower fat provolone cheese (I used Sargento) to the top of the beef over a low heat, and stir it in after it melts. I've tried this two times, trying to stir at different times, and both times the cheese became very rubbery and never stirred in well. I would assume a higher fat cheese would work fine.

But I don't have a problem with just laying the cheese on top and letting it melt, and skipping the stirring phase. Even the beef without the cheese is very tasty, so that is an option also.

Really the best thing about this recipe is the idea of cutting up the beef (Top Round) into finger pieces that will fit in your food processor tube. Then you freeze them for 30-60 minutes, to make them firm, but not frozen through. After that, you can slice with a thin slicing disk on the food processor.

You don't even really need a recipe for this (although I've linked to the non-light version of the recipe above at the paid Cook's Country site.)

I plan on using this technique for the beef to make these sandwiches also. I've always made that recipe with Shaved Beef from Trader Joe's which is somewhat expensive and full of fat. I was able to get 1.25 lbs of Top Round for a little over $4 on sale, which is much cheaper, and also much leaner. I ended up freezing half of my shaved beef and using a week later to make this recipe a second time. In the future, I may even buy a bigger piece of meat, especially if on sale, and shred a whole bunch at once, and freezing in batches. This will make a super fast dinner when I don't have a lot of time.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lemon Yogurt Mousse

Prep Time: 43 minutes
Cool Time: 6-24 hours 
Grade: A

Make Again: Yes
Recipe Source: The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2011

I was kind of disappointed with the best of 2011 book when I first looked at it after borrowing it from the library last week. There are several recipes from the Light & Healthy 2010 in there, and it seemed like there were other repeats in there. The only CI books I get anymore are these yearly annuals, so I expect to not have repeats.

It seems like a strange assortment of recipes, and I'm not sure how many I will try. However, this Lemon Yogurt Mousse looked good to me, so I decided to try it first. This one recipe may be enough to convince me to buy the book. I don't think it is on-line anywhere. I am guessing the recipe comes from this book but I don't know for sure.

It is a perfect summer recipe. Light, and refreshing. There is a berry sauce at the bottom of the dish, which is a nice little addition and complements the lemon nicely. (Strawberry, blueberry or raspberry - I used strawberries.)

After making the sauce, you make the mousse with egg whites, sugar, greek yogurt, lemon and some heavy cream. I was previously annoyed at having to purchase heavy cream for a light recipe earlier, so I was happy to be able to use some up with this recipe.

The most difficult part of the recipe is whipping the whites and sugar by hand while the bowl is over simmering water to get the eggs to 160 degrees. That takes almost 10 minutes. Otherwise the rest of the recipe is not too bad.

This one is really good. I will definitely make again. It would be good for summer entertaining, because it is a cold dessert and can be made ahead.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Thin-Crust Pizza

Dough Time: 20 minutes (including 10 minutes rest)
Rise Time: 24+ hours
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 12 minutes

Grade: A-
Make Again: Maybe
Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (January 2011)

This was good, but I struggled to shape the dough. I just couldn't get it to 13". I used Trader Joes' pizza sauce because I hated the sauce from the Veggie pizza a few weeks ago and this one was similar.

I think I prefer the really, really thin crust recipe from 2001 or the Pan Pizza recipe from Cook's Country, which I have made many, many times, because it is fast and really good.  So, even though I liked this, I'm not sure how often I will make it.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Soft Chicken Tacos

Prep Time: 17 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Make Again: No
Recipe Source: Light & Healthy 2010 (The Best of America's Test Kitchen)
Cook's Country TV (registration required, but free - at least for 2011) 

This wasn't horrible, but still disappointing overall. The sauce which consists of Orange Juice, chipotle, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic and cilantro, almost could taste like a spicy, sweet sauce. However, the flavors of the orange juice and chipotle never married, and they were very distinct in the sauce and didn't go together. I cooked the sauce even longer than suggested, but it didn't help.

The recipe is easy and fast, so I was a little disappointed that I didn't love it.