Category Archives: Official Menu

Make 3 Salad Dressings

Wouldn't it be awesome to have these in your fridge?

That’s what was requested for work yesterday.  Three dressings to be delivered to a friend who’s in the hospital.  A very sweet request, but a tad vague.

So I made the first two dressings that came to mind.  A basil balsamic vinegrette & a citrusy gingered oriental(ish) dressing.  Typical weekday dressings. They’re asked for all the time at work, because they’re bold, extra vinegary and relatively low in oil.

But what about that third?  I had to sneak around the fridge for inspiriation. There was pesto!!  Oh, the poor thing, languishing in the back, it really wanted to be enjoyed.  So a quick search later popped up a post about a creamy pesto dressing and we had a winner.  Expect that there was no mayo & I’m still not sold on the taste of Miracle Whip in salad dressings.  And  I only had a little sour cream left.  Well, there went the exact recipe, but 1 part pesto, 2 parts sour cream, 3 parts parmesan & 6 parts buttermilk made a tasty variation.  Just remember to always test a dressing by dipping in a piece of lettuce.  I’ve made some amazing dressings that weren’t that great when they met the salad.  Lessons learned.

PS Anybody know why my homemade buttermilk is so sharp tasting?  I only like it cooked with flour so far & didn’t dare use it in a dressing (regarding the flour: think cakes, biscuits, & bread pudding).  Had  to use store-bought for this…

PSS Macaroni goulash uses porportions around 9 pounds hamburger, 4 onions, 2 celery heads, 2 bottles tomato juice, lots of A-1 & worshestershire & a subtle bit of celery salt.  Oh, and 2-3 pounds macaroni shells.  Not 6.  Baked 30min.  Tonight I get to use the extra 3-4 pounds shells that is left over when you cook  all six pounds…  And I’m feeding 2 people.  Hooray for freezer casseroles! Oh, and the extra 4 chopped onions freeze beautifully for quicker prep throughout the week…


Work Menu: 9/13’s week

M: Mostaccioli, a romaine/spring salad with basic vineagrette, and some forgotten vegetable from the crisper drawer

-A riff of of a sausage & tortellini tomato soup some friends served me.  Unfortunately, kielbasa has a habit of overpowering the whole dish when it sits for lunch the next day.

W:Grilled elk loin steaks vacuum marinated with balsamic, olive oil, basil, pepper, and lemon juice. Mashed sweet potatoes, oregano roasted broccolli and a simple spring salad with a fresh orange-balsamic dressing rounded off dinner

-Lunch became a brocolli chicken alfredo dish from ____________.

F:Roasted a Rump Roast, mashed some potatoes, oven-fried some zucchinis, tossed a spinach salad with some fresas and balsamic dressing, then congratulated myself for the homemade blueberry sherbert and gazpacho to be enjoyed at their leisure.

-Roasted a smaller pork roast for an Asian Cabbage Slaw with Pork that I must try again with meat that hadn’t been thawed and re-froze.  Some mixed wild rice sauteed with diced onions and carrots rounded off the meal at about 550 calories.

SS:I braised some elk with mushrooms ala this recipe, and served it with a simple salad and spaghetti squash parmesan for dinner.

-A couple thin crust pizza‘s and a personal favorite Greek chop salad formed lunch.  A meatlovers was created with ground beef, extra roasted pork, slivered onions, and some mozzerella and cheddar.  The veggie pizza starred home-grown tomatoes, zucchini, more onion slivers, and mozerella and shredded parmesan.  I love how good healthy food tastes.

Healthy (packed) lunch: Elk & Bean Chile Verde with Cornbread & a funny salad. 500 calories.

Ground elk & ground beef can actually be swapped out pretty easily. You may have to add some liquid or oil when you cook ground game though, it tends to be super lean.  I froze 2 servings & packed two for tomorrow.  You can make the salad dressing & let it set in the fridge a few days, but I haven’t tried freezing it yet.  It’s just so easy to make.  And tasty.  And healthy.  And funny.


Recipe, pretty straight from

Elk/Beef & Bean Chile Verde. 4 servings, ~1 1/2 C each

30 minutes total seemed about right to me 

  • 1 pound 93%-lean ground elk/beef
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (we only had some random thai spice. it worked)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 16-ounce jar green salsa, green enchilada sauce or taco sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto or kidney beans, rinsed
  1. Cook beef, bell pepper and onion in a large saucepan over medium heat, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
  2. Stir in salsa (or sauce) and water; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in beans and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat just before serving.

Cornbread.  Buy a packaged mix and follow the directions.  I used a 160 calorie/serving “sweet cornbread” bagged mix that I cooked up in a special skillet.  Whatever you use, I recommend preheating it to get the oil/butter/pam all sizzly before you pour the cornbread in.  It’s just right.

Wedge Salad with Tomayo Dressing (from the VitaMix recipebook)

  • Romaine lettuce hearts, quartered & cored.  Plan on 2 quarters per person.
  • Tomayo dressing
  • Bacon Bits (or crumbled bacon fresh from the skillet for you with time)
  • Figure out how to put the lettuce wedges on a plate & sprinkle stuff on ‘em.

For the dressing: (this makes 1 cup, enough for 4)

  • 1 lg tomato
  • 1/2 C low fat/cal mayo (we had a 10 cal/.25 cup jar to use…)
  • 1/2 t dried Basil (or way more if you’re like me. at least double it if using fresh basil)
  • 1/4 sm, peeled onion (or a shallot, if you have a bunch on hand…)
  1. Toss it all into the VitaMixer or food processor and whiz away until it’s smooth. 
  2. Tada.  It actually tastes wonderful, thick, and unhealthy.  But it’s less calories than a vineagrette.  Funny, huh?

Healthy Dinner: Mostaccioli, Green Bean Medley & Salad. Under 600 calories.

Plus a lunch of Elk & Bean Chile Verde with Cornbread and a different salad, for about 500 calories.

I first recall trying mostaccioli last night before prom.  One of my best friends had been regaling me with how she was trying to get a recipe from her childhood but wasn’t sure if the nice old lady who prepared it was still alive and able to share it.  Yesterday the recipe arrived.  Very cutely phrased.  There was a warning not to use too much cheese because it’s “caloric.”  Made my day.  Especially after I got to taste the dish last night too.  Mmmhmmm.  I used a different recipe because it already had caloric values calculated.  Still pretty tasty.

Today’s recipes were inspired (read: straight from) Taste of Home’s Healthy Cooking magazine and website.  Ms B gave me a bunch of the mags & I was just picking something simple.  The Dinner was served to Ms B and her guests, and everybody spoke contentedly of the mostaccioli.  The green beans were good, nothing spectacular, and the salad received no accolades because it was standard in that household.  My personal gripes were that the green beans were a bit softer than I personally prefer, and the salad may have accidentally been drowned in the tasty dressing.

Dinner. Truncated.  My adaptations included

Baked Mostaccioli.  35min prep, 30 min bake, 6 servings (I found this pretty true)

  • 8oz uncooked mostaccioli (penne in my case)
  • 1/2 lb lean ground turkey (elk from my employers actually)
  • 1 sm onion, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained, & 1 (6oz) can tomato paste (I just used the 26 oz jar of chunky spaghetti sauce that was 70 cal/serving…)
  • 1/3 C water
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/8 t pepper
  • 2 C (16oz) fat free cottage cheese
  • 1 t marjoram (or italian spices or whatever green leafy mix you have on hand.  I used “Fine herbs”)
  • 1 1/2 C (6oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese & 1/4 C grated parmesan (lazy me, the pkg of pizza cheese comes in w 4 different cheeses, so I went with that.  All 8oz’s of it just for spite)
  1. Cook the pasta like the pkg says.  Meanwhile, cook the meat in a big saucepan.
  2. Toss in the tomatoe stuffs, water, oregano & salt & pepper.  (I add: Take a second to pour the measured spices into your hand to get a feel of how much you should be adding so you can gradually quit pulling out so many measuring spoons.) bring it all to a boil, reduce it to a covered simmer for 15 min (covered? so that’s how there was supposed to be liquid…)
  3.   In a sm bowl, like the one you bought it in, mix the marjoram & cottage cheese, then put it aside.  Drain your pasta if you’ve forgotten.
  4. 1/2 C red stuff goes into the 11×7 pam sprayed dish.  Then half the pasta, red stuff, and mozzarella.  Next all of the cottage cheese & repeat with the remaining pasta, red, and mozzarella.
  5. Bake, uncovered, 350o, for 30-40 min till is bubbly & heated through

About 300 calories.  And tasty.

Green Bean Medley.   gets done somehow during everything. serves 4 by my generous portions. 

  • 1lb fresh green beans, trimmed (takes time or costs extra)
  • 1 sm sweet red pepper, fine chopped
  • 4 green onion (scallions), chopped
  • 1/4 C sliced fresh mushrooms (or a full cup if you’re like me)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 garlic, minced, ran thru the press, or from the minced jar
  • 1 T sherry vinegar (we had seasoned rice vinegar on hand…)
  • 1/2 t dried basil (I like basil… so more like 1 T)
  • 1/4 t salt & pepper (measured?  yeah right.)

Cover beans with water in a large sauce pan, like your now empty pasta pot, and bring to a boil.  cook ‘em for 4-7 min until “crisp-tender”

meanwhile, prep your fresh veggies.  Then toss them all into another skillet & saute them with the oil & garlic till they’re tender, or till you’re just about ready to serve.  Toss in the beans, drained please, and everything else.  Heat it “through.”

The end.

technically, every 3/4 c serving = 59 calories.  Or figure under a hundred for a quarter of the total.

Organic Spring Salad with Strawberries and lemony dressing

  • one ziplock baggie of salad from the local food basket people
  • the leftover strawberries from something or other.  The small ones were the best.
  • The homemade salad dressing that used something vinegary, lots of lemon-olive oil (from Newzealand I believe), and a nice bunch of dried herbs.
  1. Slice the strawberries & toss it all together. 
  2. Realize you forgot the feta cheese.
  3. Ponder if you’ll ever get a real recipe…

somewhere around 100-150 calories, if you know what’s in your dressing.

First dinner

DSC03549 So I got a yob.  Nothing phenomenal, but a decent one.  Preparing a nutrition dinner and packed lunch for a nice couple.  16 hours over 4 nights a week.  & I’m hijacking this blog to keep track of it.  So here’s my first offering to them:

Mediterranean.  Butternut squash soup with a slew of veggies (even kale) and  a bit of bacon.  Chop Greek Salad, or green beans and tomatoes with homemade dressing.  Thin crust pizza.

Just about killed myself trying to come up with multiple menus for them to choose.  They liked it.  They’re even letting me come back another time.

Hallelujah, thine the glory.

What a couple, what a kitchen, & what an adventure.


Eventually, I’ll even post caloric values,  maybe recipes if I’m feeling particularly spritely.