Healthy Eats

Just thought I'd share a couple of healthy dinner ideas. Above is my Hoisin Chicken, oven roasted sweet potato, steamed broccoli, cucumber slices and brown rice. It makes for a very delicious and healthy dinner. I just wish brown rice reheated better for leftovers!

Thanks to Athena for the heads up on the website and publication Clean Eating Magazine. I found this Ginger-Lime Kale recipe on there. It had Kale, ginger, lime, Butternut Squash, Chickpeas and Pomegrantes. Such an unusual combination but so delicious! It's a very hardy side so you only need to pair this with a protein for a complete dinner.

Alexia Sweet Potato Rolls Product Review

Alexia contacted me about reviewing their Sweet Potato Rolls. I've never had Sweet Potato bread before and I was really curious to try them! I've never enjoyed Sweet Potatoes but lately it's been my mission to eat them and learn to live them. I love having bread rolls with soup so I was happy to see that this was a healthier bread option with my new favorite super food to boot!

My bag had only 7 rolls which I thought was strange. The package did not mention how many sweet potato rolls were inside which I also thought a bit odd. It just said 10.5 oz and since I don't have any kind of food scale I couldn't verify if 7 rolls equaled 10.5 oz. The bag's baking instructions showed 8 rolls so I'm assuming 7 was a bagging error. If it was not a bagging error, I would definitely suggest Alexia change to an even number either 6 or 8. It's hard to split odd number of rolls between two people.

I baked these rolls in a 350 degree pre-heated oven on the center rack for 12 minutes. They came out slightly crusty on the outside and very soft in the center. These are absolutely delicious served piping hot with a little bit of butter. They are not as great cold or at room temperature. I would also have these with butter and honey as a dessert (the bag suggests that as a way to serve them too).

I thought these were to be more savory rolls so I served them with soup. They were too sweet to go with the soup I made so I'd like these more as a dessert rather than part of a main course. As a dessert they are really delicious!

Thank you Alexia for providing me with a bag of these Sweet Potato Rolls to try. They were delicious!

Zucchini Tomato Pesto Pasta Bake

This casserole is ridiculously good! I got the idea from WebMD's recipe for Pesto Zucchini Tomato Gratin. The picture shows it on top of pesto penne but didn't say anything about cooking the gratin with the penne. I decided to combine the two and turn it into a casserole. This makes a lot so you'll have plenty of leftovers.

My husband hates Zucchini and while it's not my favorite vegetable either I am determined to sneak it into as many dishes as I can. I shred the zucchini to make it more palatable. It works really well in this casserole!

Zucchini Tomato Pesto Pasta Bake


1 box of whole wheat penne
1 7 oz. container of prepared pesto, divided
3 large zucchinis
3 plum tomatoes
2 cups of panko bread crumbs
extra light olive oil
1 container of Pearl Mozzarella
extra light olive oil

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Fill a large pot with water, cover with lid and heat to a boil.

Shred your zucchini and slice your plum tomatoes into thin slices (I remove the jelly and seeds as much as I can). Set aside.

Add a drizzle of extra light olive oil to a large skillet and heat. Once the oil starts to sizzle, add the shredded zucchini. While that's cooking, add the penne and some salt to the boiling water and cook 10-12 minutes based on package instructions. While the penne is cooking, continue cooking the zucchini. Stir occasionally. You want to dry out the zucchini a bit so there is not so much water. After 10 minutes, stir in 2 tablespoons of the pesto. Set aside.

In a bowl, add the 2 cups of panko bread crumbs and about 3 tbsps of extra light olive oil and mix.

Drain the pasta reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Add the remaining pesto to the pasta and add the 1/2 cup of pasta water. Stir until all the pasta is coating in pesto.

In a 11 X 13 baking dish, add the pasta. Cover the top of the pasta with the shredded zucchini pesto mix. Top with half of the panko bread crumbs. Then add a layer of sliced tomatoes. Top with the pearl mozzarella balls and the rest of the panko.

Cover with aluminum foil and add to center rack of oven. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove foil, switch oven to low broil and broil for a couple minutes until the top gets brown. If you have patience, you can wait a little longer and it'll brown on top in the 375 degree oven. I am not patient so I like to brown with a quick broil. Watch the casserole closely or you can burn the top!

Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Or dive in if you can't wait.

Bon appetit!

Tuttorosso Tomato Review, Sloppy Joe Recipe & Giveaway

Tuttorosso is a brand of canned and jarred tomato products that has been around since 1929. They pride themselves on "producing the freshest, best tasting tomato products in the world."Tuttorosso is becoming more popular recently and they have been getting a lot of good coverage on social media and blogs. They are expanding their product reach across the U.S. but right now are available mostly on the East Coast including my home state of Massachusetts (full list of states and their availability can be found here).

Tuttorosso sent me a couple of cans of their product to try. Last night I made a big batch of my Sloppy Joes with Tuttorosso Tomato Sauce in the 29 oz. can. It's a lot of sauce so that is why I made such a huge batch. The end result was delicious. I love that the tomato sauce wasn't too acidic and how it was really smooth. It worked really well with my Sloppy Joes and I would definitely try Tuttorosso again. Let's hope they work on producing smaller cans as I usually don't use such huge cans of tomatoes!

Sloppy Joes with Tuttorosso Tomato Sauce


2.5 lbs of Ground Beef
Salt, Pepper and Seasoning (I used Onion Powder)
1 large onion chopped
1 cubanelle or regular green pepper seeded and chopped
1 29 oz. can of Tuttorosso Tomato Sauce
3 tbsps of Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsps of White Wine Vinegar
2 tbsps of Brown Sugar

toasted hamburger buns
shredded cheddar

This makes 16 mini sloppy joes or 8 large ones. It makes a lot of leftovers. You can use half of the sloppy joe mix for the sandwiches and use the rest the next day and serve over pasta or alongside some white rice.

Season the ground beef. Heat a large skillet with extra light olive oil. Add half the beef when the oil sizzles. Brown, drain fat, set aside. Add more oil and cook the second batch of beef. Repeat. Set both batches of beef aside when fully cooked.

In the same skillet, add a little more olive oil and cook the chopped onion and green pepper. Once the onions begin to be translucent, add back the beef and stir. Then add the Tuttorosso Tomato Sauce, the Worcestershire Sauce (I like using a lot!), White Wine Vinegar and Brown Sugar. Stir and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Then lower heat and cook about 10 minutes more or until sauce has thickened to the consistency you like.

Serve on top of toasted hamburger buns. I like putting a bit of shredded cheddar on top. Delicious!

It's giveaway time! 

Enter for a chance to win a Tuttorosso gift pack including a kitchen mitt, mug cozy, red apron, four recipe cards and a can of Tuttorosso's  Peeled Plum Tomatoes in Juice (not shown) to try. 

Giveaway Rules:
1) You must be in the Continental U.S. to enter.
2) The deadline for entry is Noon EST Sunday January 27th.
3) To enter answer the question: "What is your favorite way to used canned tomato?" in the comment section below. Include an email address so I can contact you. This is a required entry.
4) For a second entry, "Like" Tuttorosso on Facebook and leave a comment below telling me you did so. This is a voluntary entry.
5) For a third entry, follow me on Twitter @thoughtfuleats and leave a comment below telling me which Twitter account you used to follow. I keep track of unfollows so please don't try the third entry if you don't want to follow me! This is a voluntary entry.

The winner will be chosen at random and will be contacted via email. I'll also make a note of the winner on this post once he or she has been chosen. Good luck!

Arroz con Gandules - Rice with Green Pigeon Peas

The other day I was watching Navidad Utilisima which was the Christmas special for the Spanish-Language television channel Utilisima. In one of the segments, a very charming Puerto Rican  man cooked up some Arroz con Gandules, Rice with Green Pigeon Peas, which is a very traditional Caribbean dish. My mom cooks it but does it very differently. I wanted to learn this version and try it myself. I went on to to find the recipe but it wasn't there! Good thing I taped the show. I watched the segment again, took notes and tried the dish out. And voila!

Adapted from Utilisima

Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Green Pigeon Peas)


Pork Broth
1 small package of pork bones
4-1/2 cups of broth
1 whole onion
aromatics (whatever seasonings you want, I used cumin, garlic and oregano)
salt and pepper to taste

Arroz con Gandules

1-1/2 cups of cubed pork loin (I bought a big pork loin and used the rest of the meat for another dish)
1 cup diced all-natural ham (with no nitrates or nitrites!)
1 onion diced
1 green pepper diced
2-3 garlic cloves pressed
2 cans of Goya Gandules (Green Pigeon Peas)
2 cups of uncookeed long grain rice
2 bay leaves
cilantro and chopped plum tomatoes for garnish

Makes 8 servings

To make the Pork Broth, add pork bones, water, onion and aromatics. Cover pot with lid and bring to a bowl. Lower to medium heat and let simmer with the lid partially covering the pot. Cook for about 45 minutes or until broth has some flavor. Season with salt and pepper. Strain and set aside.

Chop up your pork and dice your ham, green pepper and onions.  Season your pork cubes with salt and pepper.

Heat some extra light olive oil in a deep pot until the oil sizzles. Sear the pork cubes.

Add the ham, onion and green peppers to the pork cubes and saute until the onions and green pepper start to break down. Or until the onions begin to be translucent.

Add the pressed garlic, gandules (make sure to rinse them!) and rice.

Cover with 4 cups of the homemade pork broth and add the 2 bay leaves. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Stir thoroughly and bring to a boil. If the pork broth is still hot this will happen quickly. 

Bring the heat down to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Check 10 minutes in and stir the rice so all of it gets cooked evenly.  If its too wet for your taste, you can always cook for an extra 5-10 minutes, stirring carefully and occasionally so it dries out a bit.

Top with cilantro and fresh chopped plum tomatoes. Or you can also top with chopped roasted red peppers. The green and red give the dish a great look. This dish is a complete meal!

Buen provecho!

Tew-Mac Tavern at the Tewskbury Country Club

My father-in-law took my husband and I out for a Christmas Eve dinner to the Tew-Mac Tavern at the Tewksbury Country Club in Tewksbury, MA. The country club sits on what used to be a privately owned airport. The great thing about this country club is that it's open to the public and you don't need to be a member to eat at their tavern or play on their golf course. The Tew-Mac Tavern had a small menu but boy was I impressed with what we ordered!

Inside the Tavern is a gorgeous dining area complete with fireplace and grand piano! It was Christmas time so there was also a beautifully decorated tree. I loved the open design and the lodge-type feel.

Tew-Mac Tavern has an absolutely fantastic cocktail menu and had a special holiday one too. I opted for an Old-Fashioned because I have never had one. Also, in the show Mad Men, Don Draper makes Old-Fashioneds for himself and for Conrad Hilton at a Country Club. I love that show, I was at a country club, so it was absolutely necessary to order an Old-Fashioned.

I think this is my new favorite cocktail!

The nice waiter brought us two types of bread, olive oil with herbs and a whole head of slow roasted garlic. OH MY GOD was that garlic so delicious. It's a little tricky to fish out but oh so worth it. I had so much garlic I had to tell Carlos to take the head of garlic away otherwise I would go through a similar situation like the Honeymoon Garlic Overdose of 2012!

I have never been to a restaurant that serves a whole head of slow roasted garlic with bread. I think this is amazing and definitely a reason to visit the restaurant!

For an appetizer we got their Sicilian Calamari which was tossed in Garlic Butter and had some sliced cherry peppers. I'm glad they didn't fry the peppers and the butter wasn't overwhelming. We didn't even need a dip!

I ordered their Seared Scallops dinner and substituted their sauteed spinach with the house vegetables. These scallops were so delicious and perfectly and expertly seared. They came with 2 three-cheese potato croquettes which were so heavenly. The croquettes were nice and hot and crispy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside. Yum!

This was the best choice for dinner and when I go back I'll definitely order this again.

Carlos had the New York Strip Steak and my father-in-law had the New England Haddock plate. They both liked their meals too!

We didn't have any room in our bellies for dessert which was a shame. I'd love to see if their desserts were as good as the other plates. Instead of dessert, we sat down by the fireplace and chatted for a bit. Tew-Mac Tavern has these big comfy chairs and a couch in front of the fireplace so it's a great spot to sit and talk for a bit after your meal.

If you are ever in the Tewksbury, MA area, you must eat at Tew-Mac Tavern. This restaurant is a new favorite of mine and I can't wait to go back.

What I've Been Cooking

I've been trying to learn the recipes from my dad's culture (Portuguese) and from my mom's culture (Dominican). I attempted to make my very first Folar de Chaves which is a Chorizo and Prosciutto stuffed Brioche Loaf. It's very traditional to make around Easter and I'd like to get it right by the time the next holiday rolls around. My first try was a bit of a failure. I don't think I gave the yeast enough time to do it's thing in the milk before I added all the dry ingredients. Also the dough was really sticky and I didn't use enough flour so rolling it was very difficult. The dough is stuffed with slices of chorizo and prosciutto. You can also add bacon or pancetta but I chose to omit that. I stuffed the bread with chorizo and prosciutto, I rolled it the best I could and let is rise. I waited an hour and it NEVER ROSE! Ugh. After all that work, I baked it anyway. It was very thick and not light and airy like the bread I know. We ate it anyways.

While that bread was baking in the oven, I tried another Portuguese recipe: Chocolate Mousse. The Portuguese KNOW how to make chocolate mousse. They are experts and Portuguese Chocolate Mousse is like heaven in your mouth. My try tasted good but came out pretty terrible texture-wise.

To make this chocolate mousse you need to melt dark chocolate in a water bath, mix it with a yolk and coffee or rum, separately beat 2 egg whites until peaks form and whip cream until softer peaks form and mix everything together carefully. I did all of that but had some trouble with the egg whites. I over-beat them and they didn't form into peaks so I had to start over. I added the chocolate to the egg yolk and went to incorporate the egg white and cream. I didn't have a big enough bowl to add the chocolate so I dumped it into the bowl with the cream because that bowl was bigger. BIG MISTAKE! The chocolate cooled too quickly and formed chunks of chocolate. The mousse was dry not smooth and with chewy chunks of chocolate. Also, I forgot to add liquid coffee so I tried adding some instant coffee granules at the very last minute. Too little too late. Oh well. I'll master this eventually.

Then it was on to my mother's famous Dominican pink bean recipe!

My mom taught me all the steps in making her beans and boy with there a lot of steps. I took about 2 pages worth of notes and I'm more confused than ever. It's a 3 hour process and involves several pots and a pressure cooker. My mom makes them in big batches. In this batch she used 6 pounds of beans. Yes 6! She uses a lot of chicken bouillon and I'm hoping to be able to duplicate her recipe just using table salt and some other seasoning to replace the bouillon. These beans are so tasty! The sauce is what makes it.

I was feeling very adventurous over the break and was sick of sweet brunches so I decided to make Smitten Kitchen's Potato Pancakes. Ever since I heard about them on NPR I have been dying to make them. When you don't have a shredding attachment on your food processor, these are a BITCH to make. Holy crap. I shredded two large potatoes and two small onions and it took me forever to do by hand. When I was done, the shredded potatoes started to turn red which led me to believe that I might have shredded some skin and got blood all over them. Lucky for me this was not the case.

These were tasty but only while hot. I had to bring a hot potato pancake over to Carlos in bed to lure him out of the bedroom otherwise we were going to eat these cold! I'm not sure if these are worth it unless I had an easier way to shred the potatoes and onions.

What have you been cooking?

Easy Dinner ~ Sausage Pepper Pasta

When I get home from a long day at work, sometimes the last thing I want to do is cook. So I depend on quick and easy dinner recipes that will help me put dinner on the table within 30 minutes. This one is super easy and very satisfying. If you are not a big fan of peppers, this is a much more palatable way to eat them.

Sausage Pepper Pasta


4 links of Chicken Sausage, sliced (I used an Italian flavored one that had cheese)
1 Green Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Red Pepper
1/2 box of Farfalle pasta
extra light olive oil

Makes 4 servings

*Note - You do NOT need a whole box of Farfalle pasta so don't be tempted to empty the whole box. For seasoning you can use thyme, garlic powder, oregano, red pepper flakes or whatever seasoning you'd like that would work with the sausage and peppers.

Start a pot of water and get it boiling. Add the farfalle pasta and cook to package direction or until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, add some extra light olive oil to a large saute pan  and turn the head up to medium-high. While it's heating, chop up your green, yellow or red pepper. I cut them into chunks or thick strips. Once the oil starts to sizzle, add your peppers and cook until they start to brown/blacken. A couple minutes into cooking the peppers add your seasoning. Do not add salt because it will drain the peppers of their natural liquid.

Remove the peppers from the pan, add a drizzle more of olive oil and saute the chicken sausage. Once the sausage is browned, add back the peppers and drain the pasta and add that too. Stir thorough and serve.

Top with some grated parmesan or chopped parsley. Enjoy!

Make this without the pasta for a low-carb meal. Just add an orange pepper and have some steamed veggies on the side.

New Year's at the Rialto

We rang in the New Year last night at the Rialto, part of the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA. And boy what a night it was! We had an absolute blast and the Rialto treated us so well that we can't imagine going anywhere else for New Year's next year!

The Rialto was decorated in silver and white balloons. We got these great silver and white New Year's props: a hat, a tiara and noisemakers. Last year we went to the Noir Bar at the Charles Hotel for New Year's and we had a lot of fun. But every time I would go upstairs to use the bathroom, I'd pass by the Rialto and take a peek inside. The people at the Rialto looked like they were having more fun. Also they had live music! I was hoping to see live music at the Rialto this year but there wasn't any. We still had a fabulous time.

 We started our evening with two cocktails. On the left is a Tangerine Tango served in a chilled martini glass. This was a really good cocktail! It had Bourbon, Aperol, Blood Orange, Lemon, Honey and a Blood Orange Rind Twist! Carlos had a Whiskey Sour which was pretty good too. Our reservation was delayed and the general manager offered to give us these drinks on the house! He took care of us the entire evening and made us feel really special.

Our table wasn't ready quite yet, so we moved from the bar to the bar lounge. 

Downton Abbey reference FTW!

At the lounge, we sat in a little nook and ordered two more drinks. I had an Old-Fashioned and Carlos had another Whiskey Sour. Rialto's cocktails are well-made with quality liquors and ingredients. Carlos and I have been there before for drinks and dessert but not for food so we were excited to try some of the restaurant's savory delights.

From the Bar menu, we ordered the Stuffed Dates from the Antipasti selection. All the Antipastis are $5 each or $14 if you buy three. They are great way to start off your meal if you don't want a full appetizer. These date were stuffed with gorgonzola cheese, wrapped in pancetta and topped with toasted chopped almonds. They were a taste and texture explosion in your mouth! Salty, sweet, smoky, peppery, crunchy, smooth. They were nice and hot too which made them all that more enjoyable.

Our table was ready, later than expected but the general manager thanked us for our patience and rewarded us with a gift certificate. We thought that was very generous of him so we decided to buy a couple expensive plates to use the card and to also kick back something to the restaurant for treating us so well!

In the dining room, we were seated at a nicely decorated table. There was a vase with a White Gerber Daisy, a white candle and magenta star confetti and crinkled paper. I thought this was very classy! The waitress brought us over an Amuse Bouche also on the house. It was Prosecco with candied orange, peppercorn and the rim had bay sugar. This was so good! I wish I had set it aside to toast with because by countdown time I had no drink left. The cocktails were too good.

Sorry for the dark pictures but flash made these look terrible. Carlos got the Spiced Chicken Under a Brick which came with one big gnocchi, pumpkin, gorgonzola and truffles. I had a bite of the chicken and it was amazing!

I had the Cacciucco (which I still don't know how to pronounce), a seafood soup. It had cod, shrimp, mussels, clams, lobster and calamari. It was topped with a parsley crouton. I love seafood soup and this one was quite tasty but just a bit too salty.

I had some fun with the confetti at the table!

For dessert, we had the Walnut-Apple Bread Pudding with vanilla ice cream, poached crab apple and compote. It also came with a nice caramel candy on top. Carlos loved this dessert but I thought it was so-so. I had my heart set on something chocolatey but we both agreed to get this one instead. I wish the pudding was warm but it was cold. Because the bread pudding was cold, I didn't see how the ice cream was even necessary. Next time I'll get the Chestnut-Chocolate Cream Puff which sounds divine.

You can't really see in the picture but a lady sang Auld Lang Syne to us. Then we all used our noisemakers to ring in the New Year. I wish there was a countdown but oh well. Perhaps there was one at the bar. We can't complain because our New Year's was a great time. A couple of friends were supposed to join us, but one of them was feeling really ill. In fact, today I'm supposed to be at my parents home cooking my dad a birthday lunch but they are both sick too! So I guess Carlos and I were lucky to be able to ring in the new year with health.

I hope all of you had a wonderful New Years and here is to a great 2013!

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