America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara

America’s Test Kitchen Light & Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara

Yes, the title is correct – A Light AND Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara. I recently picked up a magazine featuring the best light & healthy recipes of 2010 from America’s Test Kitchens. I absolutely love America’s Test Kitchens because not only are their recipes full proof, they explain the science behind the recipe and I find it fascinating.

For this lightened up Spaghetti Carbonara they used ingredients such as fat-free evaporated milk and mayonnaise to create a creamy sauce without a ton of added fat. I would have never thought to use these ingredients in a carbonara, but let me tell you – it is fabulous and the calorie/fat content isn’t so shabby either. Coming in at 410 calories per 1-cup serving, this comes in way under an original carbonara recipe and I didn’t miss the original one bit. I hope you enjoy it as much as my husband and I did.

Light & Healthy Spaghetti Carbonara
(adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

Ingredients
2/3 c. Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated
1/4 c. fat-free evaporated milk
2 T. mayonnaise
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 ounces Canadian Bacon, chopped coarse
2 slices bacon, chopped coarse
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. pepper
1/3 c. dry white wine
1 pound spaghetti
Salt
1 T. chopped, fresh parsley

Directions
Process the cheese, evaporated milk, 1 1/2 T. of the mayonnaise, egg and egg white in a food processor until smooth, about 15 seconds; leave the mixture in the food processor.

Cook the Canadian bacon and bacon together in a 12-inch non stick skillet over medium heat until the fat has rendered and the bacon is browned, about seven minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Add the garlic and pepper ot the fat left in the skillet, and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the wine, bring to simmer, and cook until thickened slightly, about one minute. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring four quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 T. salt, and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with the remaining 1 1/2 t. mayonnaise until coated.

With the food processor running, slowly add the wine mixture and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water to the egg mixture, and process until smooth and frothy, about 1 minute. Immediately pour the egg mixture over the pasta and toss to combine, adjusting the sauce consistency with the remaining reserved cooking water as desired. Stir in the bacon and season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

My Favorite Cookbooks of All Time

My Favorite Cookbooks of All Time

I love cookbooks, they are one of the only actual books that I still enjoy buying.  I have become so accustomed to purchasing books on my Kindle and while my Kindle is great for reading a novel, I am unable to truly appreciate or peruse a cookbook easily on the device.  So while I try my best to avoid clutter, when it comes to cookbooks I just can’t resist.  Here are a collection of my all time favorites, I hope you enjoy my selections and hopefully see something new.
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The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

I have collected every one of Ina Garten’s cookbooks over the years and all are amazing, however I have to say that this one is my favorite.  Everything I have ever made tastes delicious and so many of the recipes have become regular favorites that I cook time and time again.  Some of my favorite recipes include Ina Garten’s Pan-Fried Onion Dip (always a crowd pleaser), Cheddar Corn Chowder (the perfect soup on a cold evening), Gazpacho, Grilled Salmon Salad, Turkey Meatloaf, Filet of Beef Bourguignon, Outrageous Brownies and the amazing Coconut Cupcakes.  These are just a few of the dynamite recipes that are favorites, but believe me when I tell you I have yet to make a recipe from this cookbook that isn’t fabulous.

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Pasta & Co. by Request
If you live in the Seattle area, chances are you have heard of a little deli by the name of Pasta & Co.   Inside of this deli are freshly made salads, artisan meats, cheeses, gourmet spreads, dips, crusty bread and don’t even get me started on the smell of this place.  This is one of those gems where you walk in and are immediately stricken by the freshness of herbs, olive oil and all around deliciousness.  This book offers up so many delicious favorites that are staples at Pasta & Co. and have been a favorite of mine.  Now, if you have time (and if you don’t live in the area you have no choice really), the recipes in this book are definitely worth making and will not disappoint.  Some of my favorites include

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Neiman Marcus Cooks

One of my very best girlfriends came over with this book one night and after perusing I knew I had to have it, and order it I did the second she left.     The book in itself is worth buying as a coffee table book for its grandiose size and extraordinary pictures, but the recipes are truly spectacular.  Some classic Neiman Marcus recipes include their Popovers with Strawberry Butter, the Neiman Marcus Salad Trio (featuring chicken salad, egg salad and tuna pecan salad) and Mandarin Orange Souffles.  The Chicken and White Bean Chili are favorites along with the fresh and flavorful homemade salad dressing recipes.   There is also an amazing chapter devoted just to cocktails – skinny cocktails too!  Perhaps the food didn’t sell you, but if you are in the market for a good new set of cocktails this book will not disappoint.

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Mesa Mexicana

For the past six years my girlfriends and I go to Vegas once a year for our annual girls trip and we always have the best time.  We have our routine which includes laying out by the pool, drinking amazing cocktails, shopping, laughing our butts off and of course eating delicious food.  We have a couple of tried and true restaurants that we always visit and one of these eateries is a place called the Border Grill at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.  The Border Grill is a restaurant that was started by Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken and Mesa Mexicana is the cookbook with many of the dishes found at the Border Grill.  Favorites include their salsa recipes, specifically the Tomatillo Salsa and Pureed Tomato Salsa Cruda.  Other favorites include the Turkey Tostada Salad and the Grilled Marinated Skirt Steak.

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How to Grill

My husband got into grilling a few years back and this is the book he bought.  I was skeptical at first since I had never heard of it and from the outside looking in, it just didn’t look like the kind of cookbook I would normally buy – think very utilitarian.   Boy was I wrong.  Every single recipe that my husband has ever made from this book has been delicious and has recipes that are very different from any other cookbooks that I currently own.  Amazing recipes include Ginger Soy London Broil, Asian Grilled Beef Salad, Bourbon Brined Pork Chops, Asian Flavored Vegetables Grilled in Foil Packets and Barbecued Cabbage.

Do you have any favorite cookbooks?  I would love to hear any recommendations!

Cle de Peau Intensive Eye Contour Cream Review

Cle de Peau Intensive Eye Contour Cream Review

I am about to get real, real expensive.  Cle de Peau expensive.  If you aren’t familiar with Cle de Peau this haute couture cosmetics collection was founded in 1982 with the claim to fuse both technology with refined aesthetics. Products in this makeup/skincare line can retail for several hundred dollars, which is why I have always avoided this brand. I simply didn’t believe anything that they could offer would be worth paying that price tag, however I was given a sample of the Cle de Peau Intensive Eye Contour Cream that changed my thinking.

I was at book club and one of my girlfriends received a bag full of Cle de Peau samples from the salesgirl at Neiman Marcus.  I was a lucky recipient of one of these samples which as you can imagine from the title of this post was the Cle de Peau Intensive Eye Contour Cream.  The sample I received was a tiny fraction of an ounce but I fell in love, ok I was hooked – a junkie.  Only an obsession like this would make me spend the offensive $250 on a jar of this cream.
Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 11.42.06 AM So, let’s breakdown what makes this cream so magical (as noted on the Nordstrom website, but all claims listed I completely agree with)…

Key benefits and ingredients of this cream include:

  • Supports the natural vitality of skin to counteract the appearance of wrinkles, lines, puffiness and loss of resilience.
  • Replenishes and maintains moisture levels to protect against dryness and ensure a smooth, supple texture over time.
  • Contains Illuminating Complex, a cocktail of powerful ingredients that creates optimal conditions for skin cells to promote exquisite radiance.
  • Formulated with exclusive Clé de Peau Beauté ingredient Cellular IC Normalizer, which enhances conditions for optimal functioning of the cellular ion channel system.

As mentioned in previous posts I just turned 40 which has made me more conscious than ever about skincare and overall health. After using this cream twice daily for only a week I saw increased firmness, decreased bags under my eyes and the skin under my eyes looked overall more radiant. Another factor I should include is that you only need the tiniest amount of product, seriously just a touch. The cream is so thick and luxurious the tiniest amount is all you need. I anticipate this cream lasting around 6 months which does (sort of) help me rationalize the cost.

Like all expensive department store favorites I will be in search of a dupe for this cream. Not only because it is so expensive but because I love a bargain. I plan on trying the Cerave Eye Repair Cream next.  I am crossing my fingers I like it.

Blueberry Crisp Marshmallows

Blueberry Crisp Marshmallows

Recently I took a trip to Chelan, Washington where there was an abundance of fresh blueberries. I purchased ten pounds of berries for $5 – what a deal! Well, yes, it was a deal, but now I am faced with what on earth to do with a gizillion blueberries. There is only so much blueberry muffins, smoothies and syrup a family can take after all…enter my heavenly Blueberry Crisp Marshmallows.

I decided to get creative and make my favorite recipe for homemade marshmallows, but with a twist. Rather than dust them with confectioner’s sugar, I decided to dust them with a topping of graham cracker crumbs and swirl some fresh blueberry sauce in the marshmallows once completed.

The final result was fabulous and a great way to use up a bit of those blueberries. I fused several recipes together – Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for homemade marshmallows along with a Blueberry Sauce from All Recipes.

Blueberry Crisp Marshmallows

Ingredients
1 package unflavored Knox gelatin
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (crushed from about 7 squares)
2 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 T. sugar
3 T. blueberry sauce (recipe below)

Directions
Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes.

While the marshmallow is being whipped, add the crushed graham crackers, sugar and butter together. Set aside. Grease a 8×8 inch square pan with cooking spray or butter and dust the bottom with the graham cracker crumbs. Reserve the remaining crumbs. Like this:


Once the fifteen minutes has passed, your marshmallows will be light and fluffy. They will look like this:

Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly. Carefully fold in the blueberry sauce just until you see a ribbon of blueberry and a light marbling effect. Pour into the baking pan and sprinkle with some of the remaining graham cracker crumb mixture. Let the marshmallows set overnight or for approximately 6-8 hours.

Cut the marshmallows up once they are set and dust the remaining sides with the graham cracker crumb mixture. Enjoy!

Blueberry Sauce

Ingredients

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup water
1 cup orange juice
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cold water
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the blueberries, 1/4 cup of water, orange juice, and sugar. Stir gently, and bring to a boil.

In a cup or small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water. Gently stir the cornstarch mixture into the blueberries so as not to mash the berries. Simmer gently until thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the almond extract and cinnamon. Thin sauce with water if it is too thick for your liking.


Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50 Review

Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50 Review

I am getting older.  I just turned 40 this year and while I was OK with this milestone I am trying to preserve the skin and health I do have as I get older, older and older (I hope anyways!).   Living in Seattle we actually do get a decent amount of good weather and we have been especially lucky to be experiencing an amazing summer this year.  With this beautiful weather comes the need for sun protection which is why I was very pleasantly surprised to discover the Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50 which I wanted to review for those interested.

I found this product on Sephora and it retails for $28.  The details on Sephora describe this product as:
“An innovative three-in-one mist that sets makeup, helps control oil and shine, and refreshes your defense against photoaging UV rays with an uplifting scent of rosemary and mint.”  I was skeptical of a product so high in SPF that came with a claim that it was a makeup setting spray.  Well, I was right about that.  I found that this product when used as a makeup setting spray turned my makeup from fresh to splotchy in about an hour.  I also found this product not to control oil.  So, makeup setting spray this is not.

However, I did find an two very useful ways to use this product.  First, it is great to use when I am out in the sun, not wearing makeup.  This mist was a refreshing way to reapply sunscreen to my face and worked much better than having to rub lotion on my face and I found the scent to be very relaxing.  The second way I like to use this is on my décolleté.  Again, the mist is so easy to apply it is a perfect way to protect this part of your body as well.

So as an overall recommendation I would give this three stars because it does offer broad spectrum SPF 50 coverage and I have found a couple of very useful ways to utilize this product.  However I had to cut down  the stars since  doesn’t work as a makeup setting spray and I do think this product is quite pricey at $28.  If you have tried this product out, let me know what you think!

J-Lo’s BodyLab Green Smoothie featured in InStyle

J-Lo’s BodyLab Green Smoothie featured in InStyle

I am a little obsessed with Jennifer Lopez.  It is amazing how she has managed to actually age backwards.  Looking at pictures of her from ten years ago, I can’t believe how much better she looks as the years have gone on.  So, while I was perusing the July 2015 issue of InStyle magazine and came across her recipe for a green smoothie I knew that I had to try it.

The smoothie features her BodyLab Vanilla Whey Protein Complex which I unfortunately did not have on hand so I opted for my Trader Joe’s Whey Protein in vanilla.  I am guessing they are pretty similar, so I moved forward with the recipe.  The smoothie includes rice milk, spinach, banana, chia seeds, sunflower butter and protein powder.  This was a convenient recipe for me since I usually have all these ingredients on hand.  Not having too many ingredients was very helpful.

Now for the taste, it was surprisingly good.  I honestly wasn’t sure how the sunflower butter would marry with the rest of the ingredients but the banana and sunflower butter take over most of the flavor and the spinach adds a freshness without being to overpowering.  I may even actually pick up a container of the BodyLab protein powder when I am done with my current protein powder to see how the BodyLab version compares to the Trader Joe’s variety.

I would definitely recommend trying the recipe for this shake.  Looking at J-Lo, there are many things she is doing right and I will try one of them to see how it works continuously.  Not only is it delicious, but if this is one of the items J-Lo is eating I am going to give it a try as well.

*For an additional Maca smoothie recipe as well as an extremely knowledgable post about Maca and all the amazing benefits, check out this article on superfoodliving.com. Some of the benefits noted are increased libido and hormone balance (something I could definitely use, especially a few days a month).

J-Lo’s BodyLab Green Smoothie (1 serving)
Ingredients
1 cup rice milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
1 handful spinach
1 frozen banana, sliced
2 T. chia seeds
2 heaping teaspoons sunflower butter
1 dry scoop BodyLab Vanilla Tasty Shake Complete Whey Protein Complex (I used Trader Joe’s Vanilla Whey Protein)

Instructions
Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Serve.

Maple Pork Tenderloin (the other white meat)

Maple Pork Tenderloin (the other white meat)

You know a marketing campaign is good, when years after it has run its course, you still recall their slogan. I love pork and I think calling it the “other” white meat sells itself short sometimes. My new favorite cut, is pork tenderloin. It is succulent, delicious and is the perfect canvas to absorb all sorts of flavors. The fact that it is relatively lean doesn’t hurt either – especially this time of year.

The recipe I made last night was inspired by one of my favorite wing recipes, Maple Wings. If you have never tried this recipe, you definitely should – they are sensational and everyone always raves about them. I can’t tell you the number of times I have given out that recipe. The combination of soy sauce, teriyaki and maple syrup is spectacular and really brings out the natural flavors in the pork. I love to serve this dish with my Ginger Rice and a cool cucumber salad. Sooooo good!

Maple Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients
1 pork tenderloin (approximately 1.5-2 pounds)
2/3 c. pure maple syrup
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/3 c. teriyaki sauce (preferably Yoshida’s)
1 T. finely minced garlic
1 t. pepper
1/4 t. crushed red pepper

Directions
Put pork tenderloin in a ziploc bag. In a separate bowl, mix all the remaining ingredients and pour into the ziploc bag. Marinate for as long as you can – overnight, if possible.

Remove pork from the plastic bag and grill or bake in a 400 degree oven until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

While the pork is cooking, boil the remaining marinade in the bag for atleast 10 minutes.

When the pork is finished, slice and serve with the marinade as a sauce.

Now, wasn’t that easy!

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Yogurt Dressing

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Yogurt Dressing

There is a Mediterranean restaurant that my husband and I absolutely love going to called, Mediterranean Kitchen. The food is so flavorful (think super garlicky and lemony) and although it isn’t the place to go if you are on a first date (unless you are into that sort of thing) it is definitely the place to go if you want something crazy garlicky good.

I love Mediterranean food which is why I am so excited to share my recipe for a Greek Quinoa Salad that I created.   I am always looking for new ways to incorporate these fresh flavors into my cooking so when I found a recipe for a greek salad with yogurt dressing I knew it would be a winner.

The dressing itself is delicious and not only is great as a dressing but also is amazing utilized as a sauce as well.  I did create this recipe to be a little more garlicky, a lot more lemony and a touch lighter (in calories) by adding both olive oil and chicken stock then traditional dressings/sauces.   I used Greek yogurt for its added protein punch and added quinoa and garbanzo beans to make this salad super filling.Continue reading…    

Orange Scented White Chocolate Toffee

Orange Scented White Chocolate Toffee

I have been cooking a ton lately, but everything has been so healthy I was craving something that was decadent and blog worthy. Even though I have been trying to cook healthier I can not and will not ever give up sugary, decadent delights such as this Orange Scented White Chocolate Toffee.

The base is the same that I use for my original toffee which is butter, sugar, almonds and vanilla, however in this case I use orange extract in place of the vanilla extract.  The orange extract I use is Nielsen-Massey’s Orange Extract, which you can find on Amazon here.  I find this extract lends the toffee a mild orange flavor without tasting artificial.

There are still many delicious healthy recipes to be posted, but as with everything in life there needs to be some balance and this Orange Scented White Chocolate Toffee brings balance into my life – well this and Proseco. :-)Continue reading…    

Summer Gazpacho Pasta Salad

Summer Gazpacho Pasta Salad

I love going to Farmer’s Markets. I always come home with an abundance of veggies and while I have the best of intentions to you use them all, often times I fall short. Those days are over now with this recipe for Summer Gazpacho Pasta Salad.

In my quest to use up the inordinate amount of fresh veggies I had on hand, I decided to make Gazpacho. Now I love Gazpacho, but unfortunately I am the lone one in my home with this love. My husband doesn’t care for it much and I won’t even attempt to try and feed this to my boys…until now… You see, I had this huge bowl of yummy Gazpacho in my fridge and decided to use it as a pasta sauce on some thin spaghetti last night. Add a bunch of parmesan, fresh basil, salt, pepper and you have a healthy, delicious meal that will definitely satisfy. What else could one ask for?Continue reading…