November 26, 2007

Oodles of Noodles

This is an easy one-pot meal for evenings when you want something healthy that takes little effort. You can use this dish as an excuse to clean up those miscellaneous items in your veggie drawer. Try bell peppers, cabbage, bean sprouts or whatever else strikes your fancy. I didn't have much time tonight, so I just added carrots and onions.

1 9.5 ounce package of organic wheat udon noodles
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 to 1 pound chicken, cut into bite-sized slices
2 cups chopped veggies
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
pinch of salt
pinch of fresh ground pepper

  1. Cook udon noodles in boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil on medium-high in large nonstick skillet. Add chicken and saute until no longer pink or juices run clear. Add all the veggies (except green onions), heating for another 3-5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. Add soy sauce, green onions, salt and pepper to skillet and toss all ingredients together.

Updated 3/2/3008
4 servings

Weight Watchers = 10 points per serving

November 23, 2007

A Little Bit of Heaven on a Cracker

I served Katie's (of Good Things Catered) recipe for Roasted Artichoke and Spinach Dip as a snack while we watched football and waited for the turkey to cook yesterday. One word: fabulous. I almost didn't bother roasting the artichokes because it sounded unnecessary at first. Follow the recipe because the roasting really brings out the flavor. Here's a shot of the finished product. As you can see, people couldn't wait to dig long enough to let me grab a picture.

Updated 3/2/2008
8 servings
Weight Watchers = 6 points per serving

Sweet and Spicy: A Great Combination

Looking for an alternative to the usual white-bread stuffing, I came upon this recipe for cornbread and sausage stuffing. Besides the taste (which I'll get to in a second), what I liked most was that it was ridiculously easy to prepare. And, I made it in advance, refrigerated and just added five minutes on to the cooking time. It's a great choice if you have a busy schedule and prepare food in advance.

As for the taste, this one hit it out of the park. If you like the sweetness of cornbread, this is your new stuffing recipe. The sweet corn and spicy sausage play nicely off each other and every bite is as delicious as the next. My only complaint, and it was really my own doing, is it sucks up a lot of the broth when you cook it. So, you need to make sure it is adequately moist, or it can be a little dry and crumbly. I added some before serving, when I noticed it to be a bit dry, and it didn't absorb as much as it would have in the hear of the oven. It still tasted great and I plan to make this again. Next time, I may add some toasted pecans to add a little nutty flavor.

Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
Recipe from

1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage (about 4 links), casings removed
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 pounds prepared cornbread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 1/2-3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring and breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 10 minutes. Add onion and celery; cover, reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add cornbread, parsley and sage.
  3. Bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Pour 1 cup over the stuffing mixture and toss gently (the cornbread will break into smaller pieces). Add as much of the remaining broth as needed, 1/2 cup at a time, until the stuffing feels moist but not wet. Spoon the stuffing into the prepared pan and cover with foil.
  4. Bake the stuffing until thoroughly heated, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.


Fresh cornbread can be a little crumbly. Prepare the cornbread two to three days in advance and it will hold its shape better when mixing everything together. If you prefer a more moist stuffing, refer to my introduction comments above for a suggestion.

Updated 3/2/2008
12 servings
Weight Watchers = 7 points per serving

Herb is the Word

Each year there seems to be one popular method to prepare your Thanksgiving bird. I'm not talking about the roasting-vs-frying-vs-barbecuing debate. I'm talking about how to get the juiciest and most flavorful bird. Last year, it was maple glaze; the year before, citrus. This year was all about the herbs. Rosemary, sage, thyme, etc. We have yet to find the preferred method in our house, so tend to run with the masses on trying new flavors year after year. I found a recipe on that I planned to follow verbatim. In the end, I made so many modifications that the recipe became more of an inspiration rather than providing specific directions. And an inspiration it was. The skin browned nicely and the meat had just a hint of flavor, without being overbearing. It was the perfect foundation to our herb-inspired Thanksgiving. It remains to be seen if this will become tradition, but we would definitely make this one again. Simple, fresh and savory.

Apple-Shallot Roasted Turkey
Adapted from a recipe by the same name from

1 15-pound turkey
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus 3 sprigs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus 3 sprigs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 sprigs
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise, divided
1 tart green apple, quartered
4 cups chicken broth, plus more as needed

  1. Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 325°F.
  2. Remove and discard giblets and neck from turkey cavities.
  3. Place the turkey, breast-side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan; pat dry with paper towels. Combine oil, chopped parsley, sage, thyme, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the herb mixture all over the turkey, under the skin and onto the breast meat. Place herb sprigs, 6 shallot halves and apple in the cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Scatter the remaining shallots in the pan around the turkey. Drizzle olive oil over the bird. Add 3 cups chicken broth to the pan.
  4. Roast the turkey until the skin is golden brown (about 3 1/2 hours*), basting with the pan juices about every 30 minutes. For the last 30 minutes, loosely place a piece of foil over the bird, to avoid burning the skin. Continue roasting until the meat reaches 165°F. If the pan dries out, tilt the turkey to let juices run out of the cavity into the pan and add 1 cup water.
  5. Transfer the turkey to a serving platter and tent with foil. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes. Remove the string and carve.

* Cooking time based on a 15-pound bird. Cook your turkey according to the package instructions.

Updated 3/2/2008
Weight Watchers = 4 points per serving

November 18, 2007

Chicken Nuggets with Less Guilt

If you're ever looking to satisfy a food craving, just look for a recipe from my girl, Paula Deen. Hailing from the South, Paula knows comfort food. So, last night I decided to indulge the child in me by preparing Paula's recipe for chicken nuggets with honey mustard dipping sauce. What's great about these is that they are baked instead of fried. Based on the ingredients, it's obvious this isn't the healthiest recipe in the world, but it's a good compromise when you need to feed your inner child.

Photo credit:

Chicken Nuggets with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen via


2 cups crushed sour-cream-and-onion-flavored potato chips
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
6 chicken breast fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup butter, melted
Honey Mustard, recipe follows


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread the crushed potato chips in a shallow dish. Beat together the egg and milk in a shallow bowl. Dip the chicken cubes into the egg mixture and then dredge them in the chips. Place the chicken nuggets on a baking sheet and drizzle with melted butter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown. The chicken nuggets can be frozen after baking. Serve with your favorite sauce, such as honey mustard or ranch dressing.

Honey Mustard:


3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice or juice from 1/2 lemon
Horseradish, to taste
2 tablespoons orange juice (more or less as needed)


Combine all ingredients except orange juice; stir well. Thin to pouring consistency for dressing or dipping consistency for dips with orange juice. Cover and chill for 2 or 3 hours.

Excellent based on taste; good based on nutrition (coating chicken in crushed potato chips cannot be healthy, but it is still better than frying processed chicken parts)


To make a nice crust on the chicken pieces, crush the chips in a food processor. The result will be a fine powder that browns nicely in the oven.

Updated 3/2/2008
12 servings
Weight Watchers = 10 points per serving

November 15, 2007

The Most Tender Meatloaf Ever

Meatloaf is one of those dishes I usually avoid. Reason being is that no matter what recipe I try, I usually end up with what can only be described as an overcooked, dry and flavorless giant hamburger patty. I came across this recipe on that promised to deliver rich flavor and smooth texture. Not only was this dish very tasty, but it was extremely easy to make. Prep time took less than 15 minutes and I liked the fact that it contains pureed veggies, which helps us add more vitamins and nutrients to our diet. My perception on meatloaf has changed; I will definitely be adding this recipe to my list of favorites.

Meatloaf 101 with Mrs. Kostyra
Serves 8


4 slices white bread, torn into pieces
2 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into eighths
2 cloves garlic
2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 large egg
1 cup ketchup
3 teaspoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place bread in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade; pulse until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a medium bowl, and add ground beef.

  2. Place onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade; pulse until fine. Add to meat mixture, using hands to mix well. Add egg, 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 teaspoons dry mustard, salt, and pepper; use hands to combine thoroughly. Place in an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pan.

  3. Combine remaining 1/2 cup ketchup, remaining teaspoon dry mustard, and brown sugar in a bowl; stir until smooth.

  4. Brush mixture over meatloaf; place in the oven with a baking pan set on the rack below to catch drippings. Cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 160 degrees, about 90 minutes. If top gets too dark, cover with foil, and continue baking.

My Rating:

I used a combination of ground beef and ground pork, about 2 1/4 pounds and 1 pound respectively. This yielded a little more mixture than anticipated so I ended up using two loaf pans. So as not to dry out the meat, I reduced cooking time to 60 minutes. This was the perfect amount of time; I suggest reducing the cooking time as indicated if you make two smaller loaves.

Take the
leftovers and make a meatloaf sandwich. Slice the meatloaf a little thinner than normal, top with some shredded mozzarella, and pop in the microwave for about 90 seconds. Put it all between two slices of your favorite bread and you have a tasty lunch!

Updated 3/2/2008
Weight Watchers = 7 points