Sunday, November 13, 2011

3 Fast, Healthy and Delicious Budget-Friendly Meals for November

For me, November is a bittersweet reminder that the holidays are just around the corner. As I anticipate all  the family gatherings and laughter that will arrive in the coming months, my palms grow sweaty. Why the grim thoughts, you may ask? Well, the response is quite simple, money and time are always scarce this season and obligations abound. If you can relate to my holiday woes, I hope you enjoy the menu I've planned for this week. Easy, fast, healthy menu options are the only thing that makes me feel somewhat in control of my budget and weight during this time of year. Therefore, here is my holiday gift to you...3 meals that will satiate your hunger and leave a little room in your wallet for all the superfluous nonsense your about to spend your hard-earned dollars on...bah, humbug and happy healthy eating!

1. Brown Rice Pasta with Red Clam Sauce
     original recipe found in Food & Wine April, 2011

                                                     Picture taken by Kris Callen, November, 2011

  1/4 cup olive oil
  4 large cloves garlic, chopped  
  2/3 cup dry white wine  
  1/2 teaspoon dried thyme  
  Pinch dried red-pepper flakes  
  3 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 28-ounce can)  
  1 cup bottled clam juice  
  1 1/4 teaspoons salt, more if needed  
  3/4 pound chopped clams, drained (about 1 1/2 cups)  
  1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley   
  1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper  
  3/4 pound linguine

  1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine, thyme, and red-pepper flakes; bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, clam juice, and salt. Raise the heat to moderate and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the clams and bring back to a simmer. Continue simmering until the clams are just done, about 1 minute longer. Stir in the parsley and black pepper. Taste the sauce for salt, and add more if needed.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the linguine until just done, about 12 minutes. Drain and toss with the sauce.
Note: Top with Locatelli Romano. We buy ours straight off the block at Dorn's. The reason it should be straight off the block is that as soon as the air hits the cheese it begins to oxidize and the natural flavors become compromised. If you must go to the market for this cheese, buy a wedge and grate as you go. 

2. Marinated Vegetables with Romano Coated Chicken Breast

                                Marinated Italian Veggies 

                                                         Photo by Kris Callen October, 2011

1/2 lb mushroooms (stems trimmed)
1 large cauliflower(broken into florets)
2 large green bell peppers (cut into 1/2 inch strips)
2 large red onions
1 cup olive oil
2-3 tbs minced fresh garlic
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar or agave
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Steam veggies until tender but still firm and place in a large bowl. Combine the last five ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour dressing over the steamed veggies and let marinate in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

                    Romano-Coated Chicken Breast 

1 tbsp butter
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup finely grated Locatelli Romano Cheese
Freshly ground pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 325F.
2. Heat butter in a heavy skillet over med-high heat and brown chicken breast on both sides. Cook each breast for 5 minutes on each side.
3. Spread Locatelli Romano out on a plate and season with pepper. Turn breasts in cheese to coat completely and arrange in a baking dish.
4. Place chicken in the oven and bake for 10-15minutes until completely cooked through. Serve warm and enjoy!

 3. Spicy Cajun Crab and Greens Soup

Our good friend Jim made us this soup last night. The soup was meaty and flavorful. The rich and bold tomatoes combine beautifully with the onion, crab and delicate baby spinach to create a harmonious masterpiece.  Jim is no slouch in the kitchen and has treated our family to some exquisit meals in the past, but last night's meal was as healthy and satisfying as it was delicious.  Having lived in New Orleans, I can attest to the fact that this Crab Soup is among the best I've tried. Jim made it right before my eyes in less than 20 minutes using high quality Boss Pasteurized Canned Lump Crab Meat available locally at NorthWest Seafood. His gracious wife Leeanne was kind enough to pack-up a handsome portion of this soup for my husband and I to enjoy a second time around. I count myself very lucky to have friends with such good taste! Cheers to you both and many thanks for your continued hospitality.

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 to 5 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 2 1/2 cups bottled clam juice
  • 2 14 1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes with caramelized onion, in juice
  • 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat
*Note: Jim uses the regular (not jumbo or claw) Hand Picked Boss Lump Crab Meat

Whisk oil and flour in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat until smooth and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add enough Cajun seasoning to season to taste and stir 30 seconds. Add clam juice and stir until smooth. Add tomatoes with juices. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 3 minutes. Add spinach, thyme, and garlic and simmer until spinach is just wilted, about 1 minute. Add crabmeat and simmer until heated through, stirring gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

Note: Jim found the recipe in the March 2003 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine.
The recipe can also be found online at

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