Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dieting and Cheating.... they go hand in hand

I have a confession to make. I am the world's worst dieter. I start a diet every morning and somewhere between 9am and the Starbucks drive thru I have already blown it...big time. I am in my thirties now (that is so weird to say) and I have been this type of "on again, off again" dieter since college. I truly believe that old habits die hard. So I have decided that I need to do my best to at least whip up one healthy meal a day for my family and hopefully that will point me in the right direction. No matter how many Frappuccinos or cookies I eat during the day, I have a healthy dinner to cancel it all out in the end. That's how it works, right?!? Man, I hope so!

So last week I felt like I FINALLY got my cooking mojo back. It has really been missing since the move. I don't know if it is the peeling old lady wallpaper or the slightly tilting electric stove top that have been making my kitchen a less than desirable work space. I have burned several of my old stand-bys trying to get used to this place. (Did you hear me say ELECTRIC stove top? For shame! I'm a gas cooking girl all the way!) But I am back and feeling pretty good about it. I served up some pretty dang good cuizine two nights in a row last week and the crowd was very pleased.

First up was Spaghetti with ricotta and tomatoes from Real Simple Family. You guys know my love for this magazine. I especially love their "10 Things to do with..." feature every month. This month the featured ingredient was Spaghetti. Brilliant. I ALWAYS have spaghetti on hand. It is a staple in the Summy house. Anyway this recipe is great and will be back again and again. Sorry there are no pictures. I have gotten out of the habit of photographing our meals. I will do better from now on. I promise.

Spaghetti with ricotta and tomatoes
2 pints grape tomatoes
4 smashed garlic cloves
olive oil
12 oz spaghetti
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped italian parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Toss grape tomatoes and smashed garlic with olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 450º until the tomatoes burst, about 8 to 10 min. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti and drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water. Toss Spaghetti with ricotta cheese, chopped parsley, and reserved pasta water. Season with Salt and pepper. Top with the tomatoes. See how easy that was?

The next night I took some help from my friend Rachel Ray and her magazine Everyday with Rachel Ray. She has started including these Weeknight Meal Planners in each issue. I LOVE this idea because she helps you get the most from the fresh ingredients you buy at the store. I always hate to buy stuff like Parsely or cilantro if I am only using 1 tbsp but if you have several recipes that use that ingredient it totally makes it worth the cost! Okay so I know I say this alot, but this meal was so great that I really will be making it over and over. It was super easy and delicious and, get this, healthy too (well at least the chicken and onions part)! I believe that is called a trifecta. Oh wait, and it is beautiful too. Is that a Quadfecta?

Chicken with Balsamic Onions and Parmesan Potatoes (YUM)
2 lbs red potatoes cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (5oz each)
2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 cups (about half a package) baby spinach loosely packed

Preheat oven to 400º. In a large pot, combine potatoes and salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil and cook until fork-tender, 6 to 8 min. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Toss with 2 tbsp butter, the parmesan cheese, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp EVOO over med high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper (and garlic powder if you have it) and cook, turning once, until golden brown (about 5 min). Transfer to a baking dish; roast until cooked through (about 10 min).

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp EVOO over medium heat. Stir in the onions and vinegar and season with salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized (about 15 min). At the end, stir in 1/4 cup water and scrape up any browned bits.

Serve the chicken on a bed of spinach and top with onions. Serve potatoes on the side.


  1. Yummm. I think we'll have the chicken and potatoes for supper tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. oh yes! And I meant to say that it was easy to please the picky kids because I just served theirs without the spinach and onions. Everybody was happy!