Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chef Ryan Presents....

A fun afternoon of grocery shopping and cooking with mom and I for the families! Ryan and I both like to cook but seeing as how we are both back in the states for now and living with our families we are missing a kitchen but mom loves to cook and even more than that I think she likes to watch others learn to cook so she helped us out this weekend with different things and I think was quite proud!
Every Sunday someone in Ryan's family has to cook Sunday lunch and this was his/our turn. Seeing as how we have been trying to get into shape we thought we would use some of mom's healthy cook books to show his family that flavorful meals can be made without all the calories. So Saturday mornings we took our recipes to Publix and hunted down the ingredients. After getting a few looks as we randomly went in ever different direction we were quite successful and only had to make one side stop to Ingles.

In order to make sure everything went off without a hitch we cooked the exact meal we were going to cook for Ryan's family at my house Saturday afternoon, and went ahead and got everything ready for his dinner Sunday. I am happy to say that everything got the thumbs up from my family Saturday night and I think Ryan's parents enjoyed it today also. So what did we cook? Well here you go:

We started the meal off some Blush Sangria from Cook Yourself Thin Faster. 
Cook Yourself Thin Faster: Have Your Cake and Eat It Too with Over 75 New Recipes You Can Make in a Flash!

And I don't know about you but I LOVE sangria so finding one that was better for me than a normal sangria was like a double sign that I should of had some this weekend!

Blush Sangria:
Serves 6 (Calories 131, Total Fat less than 1g, Sodium 15mg, Sugars 11g)
1 bottle rose wine, chilled
1 peach, thinly sliced
1 orange, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 pint reach raspberries
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
1 cup club soda, chilled

We went a little different rout and mixed:

White Zinfandel (we had a hard time finding rose wine)

1 Peach, Orange, Green Apple, Red Apple

Random amounts of raspberries and strawberries

2 tablespoons sugar

Skipped the mint leave

Added the club soda in the bottom of the glass before serving.

Let me say one more time that this was great! Adding the club soda made it more filling to me.

With the sangria we enjoyed a Greek Salad that Ryan made with some iceberg lettuce, Cesar dressing (I think the Publix brand) some feta cheese, and some croutons. It was ahh perfect and so easy!

Next we made Chicken and Cheese Poppers from Now Eat This! Diet.  This cook book is amazing and I have learned so much from it, if you like smoothies you will love some of the suggestions he has in this book!
Now Eat This! Diet: Lose Up to 10 Pounds in Just 2 Weeks Eating 6 Meals a Day!

We made a few adjustments to this recipe because we couldn't find jalapeno's big enough; because it was so amazing I will list want we used/did.

Chicken and Cheese Poppers:
6 Jalapeno peppers
3 bell peppers (we used 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 red)
2 cups of shredded precooked chicken strips
1/3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/3 cup chopped scallions (white and green parts)
1 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat panko bread crumbs
4 large egg whites
Nonstick cooking spray

1. Preheat the broiler on high. Place a wire baking rack on a foil-lined baking sheet.

2. Cut the bell peppers in half and scrape out the seeds and membranes. Cut the jalapenos in half and scrape out the seeds and membranes. Place them all on the prepared baking sheet, and broil until they begin to char slightly and are partially cooked (about 2-4 minutes). Allow all the peppers to cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 450.

4. In a bowl mix the chicken, cream cheese, sour cream, scallions, cheese, and jalapenos (chopped). Add salt and pepper to taste. Fill each pepper with the mixture, packing it in tightly.

5. Put the flour in a shallow dish. Put the panko in a small dish. In a medium bowl, whip the egg whites with a whisk.

6. Take each pepper and place it in the flour, then egg, then panko. I had a hard time doing this and felt like none of the panko was sticking to the peppers so I sprinkled some on top of them to give it the "breaded taste".

7. Spread all the peppers on the wire rack. Bake until the breading is golden brown and crispy and the cheese is melted (about 20 minutes).

These peppers could of been a meal in themselves with the salad becuase they were so filling.

Our main dish was Stuffed Shells from Cook Yourself Thin.
Cook Yourself Thin: Skinny Meals You Can Make in Minutes (Voice)

Stuffed Shells:

Serves 10 (Calories per serving 331)

12 Ounces (1 box) jumbo pasta shells

It had a do it yourself tomato sauce but we just picked up some red sauce.

For the stuffing:
1 pound bag baby spinach
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
2 scallions, chopped
2 cups (16 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat, part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 thin slice ham, chopped (we swapped this out for some of the extra chicken from the peppers and beef)
*next time I think we are going to use some spicy Italian sausage
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch grated nutmeg

1. Spray a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shells, and partially cook-they should have started to become tender but will still be firm to the bite, 6-7 minutes. Drain in a colander, and immediately transfer to the oiled baking sheet, spreading them out in a single layer so that they don't stick together. Let cool.

2. Add the spinach and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet. Place over medium heat, cover and cook, tossing every now and then with tongs for even cooking, until wilted, 5-6 minutes. Drain, and let cool, then squeeze out as much liquid as you can (I found that part to be quite entertaining), and chop.

3. In the same skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the zucchini and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring every now and then, until tender and lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Add scallions during the final 1 minute. Move to a bowl and add the spinach. Add the ricotta, the meat, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, the parsley, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and the nutmeg, and stir to combine.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

5. Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of two 9-by-13-inch baking dishes. Fill the cooked shells with the cheese mixture, about 1 tablespoon per shell, and arrange the shells side by side in a single layer in the prepared dishes. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells, then sprinkle each with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.

6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the filling is heated through and the cheese is melted, 25-30 minutes.

Ok this sounds harder than it was I swear!

For my family we got a cookie cake from Ingles (I swear they have the best) because the desert we made for Ryan's family we normally eat for breakfast to make sure we get a full dose of fruit.

Then for Ryan's parents we made some fruit smoothies:

2 peaches
12 ounces of water
1 cup of ice
1 packet of any flavor you like of Cristal Light

Blend well and enjoy!

Photos Chris took of the meal:

And for now that is that!  I know you are all about to fall out of your chairs because this happened this weekend and I managed to blog about it this weekend!  I won't lie it is quite around the house tonight because Chris and Ryan went off to the Journey concert and well there seems to never be anything good on T.V. and I am out of books until I go to the library tomorrow. Oh no wait mom and I picked up The Help at Costco a few weeks ago, my night is looking up!  Hope everyone had a great weekend and has a good start to their week! As always I am ready to see where this week goes and what life has to teach me.

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