Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

A week or so ago I went to a local Mexican chain restaurant. I can't say this particular restaurant is ever fantastic, but it's good for cheap Mexican food every once and a while. I usually just order the chicken fajitas, but this time I ordered Enchiladas Suizas. Basically, chicken enchiladas with tomatillo salsa. Sounded good.

Unfortunately it was only plain unseasoned chicken rolled in corn tortillas and covered with salsa and cheese. I not only could have done better. I already had made a better version once or twice before.

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde is the same idea. Except the chicken filling is tossed with some of the salsa and low fat cream cheese. It just makes a world of difference. A flavorful, cheesetastic difference. It is by far my favorite low fat enchilada recipe. As good, if not better, than I can get at any restaurant. Now if only I could accurately recreate those chips and salsa!

On the side is Mexican sort of rice. I combined two different recipes for this one.

Jen's Mexican Rice
2 tsp canola oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, minced; ribs and seeds removed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large tomato
2 tbsp or so of tomato paste
1/2 tsp or so of cumin
1/2 tsp or so of chili powder
1 cup long grain white rice
2 cups chicken stock

Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Saute onion and jalapeno until soft and the onion is translucent. Add minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and seasonings. Add rice and saute another minute or so. Pour in broth, bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat, simmering for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ham, Mozzarella, and Spinach Panini

Ham, Mozzarella, and Spinach Panini

I got the idea for this sandwich from an Everyday Food issue. Martha's version was on french bread with fresh mozzarella. That would have been better. Hands down. Except, it took 20 minutes in the oven. I didn't have that kind of time for lunch.

So, it's 2 oz. of part-skim mozarella cheese on 100% whole wheat bread with 2 oz. of deli ham and about 1/2 cup spinach. I cooked it in a small frying pan and weighted it down with a glass pie plate and a pyrex liquid measure to flatten it. And cooked over medium heat until nicely browned on both sides and the cheese had melted. I put cheese close to the bread on both sides to keep the toppings securely in the middle. I liked it, but didn't love it. If I make it again, I'll make it Martha's way and make sure my ham is low sodium. Blech. Too much salt.

I served it with this:

Grape Tomato Salad
2 pints grape tomatoes
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tsp fresh lemon juice or vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, and mustard. Toss with tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Salad with Seared Scallops

Salad with Seared Scallops

"Did someone make tuna today for lunch or something? I smell fish," my coworker remarked on Monday while I was pouring myself a glass of water from the pitcher in the staff kitchen. I had just returned from making lunch at home, which I do every day.

"I don't smell anything," I replied. "But I did make scallops for lunch."

She paused. "....oh," she said when she realized she wasn't smelling tuna in the kitchen, but the scallops that I had cooked for lunch.

Yes, I smelled like scallops when I got back to work. Oh well. And my apartment still kind of smelled like fish when I got home from work that night, too. But it was a simple, decadent kind of lunch that I needed on Monday. The scallops only take a few minutes on each side to cook and are good with just a little salt and pepper. I put it over a salad with plenty of veggies and dressed it with a light vinaigrette. In my opinion, it's a great way to introduce a little seafood into your diet. And, the salad was only 4 pts., and it was a decent sized one, too.

So who cares if I smell a little bit like fish afterward? I certainly didn't.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Steak Salad with Creamy Ranch Dressing

Steak Salad with Creamy Ranch Dressing

I don't eat a lot of red meat. It's not that I think there's anything inherently bad for you. You just have to choose the right cuts. Understandably, they aren't always the best testing. The rule for red meat is more fat = more flavor. Well for any meat really. The best part of a chicken is the dark meat and the skin, in my opinion. Both are fattier.

The reasons are that lean red meat is expensive. My chicken costs me $2 a pound roughly, extra lean ground beef is $3.50. Another reason is because I didn't grow up eating it. My sister hated all red meat except for steak. So we ate nothing but chicken. We never asked what was for dinner because we always knew the answer: chicken breast.

Now that I'm cooking for myself I try to eat a better variety of foods, but sometimes I still find myself defaulting to chicken. Last night, though, I made steak. Steak Salads with Creamy Ranch Dressing to be exact. It's nothing all that fancy. Most of it was prepacked (salad, grape tomatoes, ranch dressing) but the steak was given a dry rub treatment and cooked on a grill pan. It would have been better on the grill, but I don't think the apartment management would agree with me grilling in my living room. The rub is good in general, although, if you decide not put the steak on a salad, I'd cut back on the red pepper.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Crunchy Garlic Chicken with Honey-Glazed Carrots

Crunchy Garlic Chicken

Surprisingly enough, I didn't grow up eating unhealthy foods. At least compared to most of my peers. (Ever seen Honey We're Killing the Kids on TLC?) My mom's favorite when I was in high school was Betty Crocker's Healthy New Choices cookbook. She cooked from it so often that I requested the Crunchy Garlic Chicken and Honey-Glazed Carrots for my birthday dinner on my 19th birthday. I was only a month into my freshman year of college and I was already sick of the butter-laden, fried, greasy soaked food I was being served in the dining halls.

I used to love this chicken so much that when I moved into my first apartment, my mom bought me this cookbook as a housewarming gift. I wouldn't say many of the recipes are fantastic. They actually look kind of gross. But this one works. It's a newer take on breaded baked chicken and the cornflake crust is much more flavorful than just plain breadcrumbs. Even now, this is one of my favorite ways to bread chicken. The carrots, by the way, are practically the only way I'll eat them cooked. I could eat an entire bag of baby carrots this way. Seriously.

Crunchy Garlic Chicken
Makes 6 servings
6 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons of trans fat free margarine
1 tablespoon skim milk
1 tablespoon of fresh chives or parsley
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cup cornflakes, crushed (1 cup)*
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray baking pan with cooking spray.

Mix margarine, milk, chives, salt and garlic powder together in a bowl. Dip chicken in the margarine mixture and then dredge in cornflake mixture until lightly coated.

Place chicken in the pan and coat with cooking spray. Bake 20-25 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink when the centers of the thickest pieces are cut.

*Note: You can buy cornflake crumbs in the aisle with the bread crumbs. Makes things so much easier.

Nutritional info per serving: 220 calories, 9 grams of fat, 0 grams of fiber

Honey-Glazed Carrots
Makes 6 servings
1 16-ounce bag of baby carrots
2 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon of trans fat free margarine
Ground nutmeg

Place carrots in a steamer basket set over boiling water in a 2-quart saucepan. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender.

Add honey and margarine to the carrots stir until the margarine is melted. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Nutritional info per serving: 70 calories, 2 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hoisin Chicken Skewers with Asian Noodle Salad

Hoisin Chicken Skewers

Bon Appetit has a new-ish feature on its Web site called the Easy Week. For each weeknight, they offer main dish, side dish, and dessert ideas. Brilliant if you have trouble pairing sides with mains, or if you're just looking for new ideas.

I don't often use these because some of the recipes are too fat-laden, some are even a little too labor intensive. One hour paella? Um, when the directions suggest that it takes an hour, I often find it'll take me an hour and half b/c I'm a little scattered and sometimes inefficient when cooking.

The Hoisin Chicken Skewers, though, stood out. For one, I had two half-finished jars of hoisin sauce. I must have forgotten I had one open and opened another. (Dear God, I'm becoming my mother. Next thing you know I'll have three open boxes of elbow macaroni in my pantry.) Another reason being that the chicken would only take 8 minutes to cook. I'm all over that one.

I paired it with the noodle salad from this post, but I only used the dressing and garnished the noodles with green onions from the farmer's market instead. And yes, I used whole wheat noodles instead of soba. Darn you, Meijers! Why'd you have to stop carrying soba?

Ooh, then fresh, delicious green beans from the farmer's market. Perfect. The meal was as simple, flavorful, and as filling as I thought it would be. Plus, roughly 6 pts. per serving according to my old-school points tracker.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Fage Total 0% with Blueberries

Fage 0% with blueberries

I may never go back to plain yogurt again. I absolutely *love* this yogurt. It's the first time I've tried it because the price is a bit high, but now that I've tasted it — I know it's worth it.

If you haven't yet had Fage yogurt, you should. It's creamy, thick, and has less of the tang that regular plain yogurt has. This week I'm mixing it with blueberries. YUM.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lemon-Zucchini Muffins

Lemon-Zucchini Muffins

Summer Saturday mornings are my favorite. It's the day I get up at the crack of dawn (for me, it means before 8 a.m. on a weekend) and buy farm-fresh fruits and veggies at a farmers market. Usually, I like to go the the North Market. If I get there around 9:30 a.m., it still hasn't gotten very busy. Last week I picked up sweet corn, blueberries, tomatoes, and garlic.

This week, though, I decided to try the Worthington market. We didn't get there as early as we would have liked—and the crowd was pretty thick. Nonetheless, I picked up some red potatoes, green beans, green onions, and zucchini, which made it into these muffins. They'll make a nice bedtime snack tonight and possibly part of my breakfast this week.

The recipe is from The Wooden Spoon Bread Book. The recipe was for zucchini bread, but in the interest of portion control, I made them into muffins. I got 14 muffins out of the batter at 5 pts. a piece. (Tip: to make them more point-friendly subsitute the oil for an equal amount of applesauce, which makes them 3 pts. a piece)

Lemon-Zucchini Muffins
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ginger
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
zest of one lemon
2 cups of unpeeled, grated zucchini
1/2 cup coursely chopped pecans (you could also use walnuts)

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups. I also give them a quick spray with cooking spray so the muffins won't stick to the wrappers.

Sift together the first 5 ingredients, through the ginger. Set aside.

In a medium bowl beat the eggs. Beat into the eggs the sugar, oil, and lemon juice. Stir into the egg mixture the zest, grated zucchini, reserved flour mixture, and the nuts.

Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full. For perfect muffins, try using an ice cream scoop for this. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Grocery Tips for Staying on Plan

I am a huge fan of lists. I would say there are more half started lists on my desk at the moment than actual work. It shouldn't be much of a surprise then, that making a grocery list is a top priority before I even step foot through the sliding glass doors and grab a cart.

There are a couple of basics I can't live without: whole bean coffee, chicken, low fat milk, eggs, olive oil. I either buy these things in bulk or they make repeated appearances. Another thing about my lists—they are produce heavy. Seriously. I shop the aisles first, hitting up the produce last (my mom did the same order in the very same store...it's sick, really). Before I get to the produce my cart is practically empty. Last week I told my mom I intended to pay the $500 to get a CSA (community supported agriculture) share next year. That works about to be roughly $20 a week on produce.

"Do you really spend that much?" she wondered. The answer is yes. Yes, I do. I buy a few things from the dairy, a lean meat or two per week, and a couple of odds and ends from the aisles. That's about it. Keep in mind, I also cook for one. Shopping this way is not only healthy for your waist line, but your budget as well. Most penny-pinching folks agree that the perimeter of the store, i.e. less processed, provides the biggest bang for your buck.

Typically speaking, here are some other favorites.
PRODUCE: Mostly what's in season. Right now it's a lot of corn, tomatoes, peaches, and berries
DAIRY: Low fat plain/vanilla yogurt, low fat milk, sharp cheddar, part-skim mozarella, monterey jack, feta, goat's cheese, bleu cheese, eggs
AISLES: rice, pasta, dried spices, condiments, olive oil, the occaisonal bag of popcorn
BULK: Nuts, frozen chicken (boneless skinless breasts and thighs), coffee beans
MEATS/FISH: Flank steak, scallops, shrimp, lean pork chops, pork tenderloin, whole chickens
BAKERY: whole wheat bread, whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat pitas, the occaisonal loaf of sourdough or French bread.

My best tip is to keep a stocked pantry. A good example of what you should have in a well-stocked pantry is here. Choose recipes based on what's available, and make a list to fill in the rest.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

These aren't the beets from my childhood

I loved beets when I was little. I remember eating them straight from the can at my grandmother's house. It seems like an odd food for a child to like. I hated peanut butter, but hell, I'd eat canned beets. Somewhere along the line my tastes changed. I learned to love peanut butter and my love for beets turned to disgust. I still can't eat canned beets.

But like a lot of other veggies (green beans especially), I absolutely adore the fresh version, but can't stomach the canned version. So, this weekend I saw some beets at the farmer's market and decided to take the plunge. My first attempt at beet greens didn't pan out. I was afraid the beets would be as terrible as the greens.

A good thing to do with vegetables you aren't so sure about is to make risotto. Hello, creamy carbs.. what's not to like? You can add just about anything to rice and I'll eat it happily. Rachael Ray's Beet Risotto with Roasted Asparagus and Ricotta Salata looked easy enough. If you cut the oil down to 2 tbsp instead of 6 (yikes!) it's 9 pts per serving according to nutritiondata.com.

My only complaint? That the beets were still a bit on the crunchy side. I think that would be easily cured by roasting them ahead of time. But if she had written the recipe that way, it wouldn't exactly be her signature "30 minute" meal. Although as written, it still took me longer than 30 minutes. Risotto has always been more like a 45 minute meal for me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Look before you leap...er, EAT!

I learned a lesson with last night's dinner. Always, and I mean, ALWAYS, look up the nutritional info or the points value before eating. It's easy to think, "This doesn't sound point-laden" when, in fact, it'll make you wish you never put it in your mouth — no matter how delicious it was.

OK. That's a lie. I love food too much to wish I had never put something in my mouth. With the exception of the macaroni and cheese I made. That was not so good. Gross, actually. Oh well.

You'd think after more than five years of attempting to lose or maintain, I would be the perfect WWer. Well, I'm not. Far from it actually. I happily lapped up the creamy polenta with sweet corn and the Spice-Rubbed Chicken Breasts with Lemon-Shallot Sauce oblivious to the points. I cut the oil drastically, and well, quick-cooking polenta cooking in half milk/half water and finished with butter and cooked sweet corn is low in points? Right?

Not so much! A mere 14 points later (not counting the beet greens I spit out.. even I don't like everything!) I was done with my meal and passed out on the couch from the exhaustion of the day, only to wake up, eat two hershey dark chocolate sticks (they're so small!) and then wolf down two cups of fresh pineapple while talking to the boyfriend before bed. All in all, I consumed 45 points yesterday. Oops! I plenty of flex, but honestly, tomorrow's date night and while I'll make better than usual choices, I'm not going to fret over points. Life's too short and it's been a long time since the boyfriend and I got some QT alone.

Next time I make this dish I'll eat half the polenta and cut the oil even more.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Garden tomatoes = YUM

This past weekend I got some really good looking tomatoes from the North Market's Farmers Market. I think I planned just to add them to a salad to go with corn chowder (I also picked up some gorgeous sweet corn) but they were so red and juicy I decided to put off the corn chowder until Friday and make some BLTs instead.

You might think BLTs would not be WW-friendly. Again, using some clever swap outs, it's very easy to recreate it in a point-friendly manner. Instead of white bread, I used toasted whole wheat. Then, I opted for light mayo and center cut bacon. Center cut tastes like bacon b/c it actually IS real bacon. Unlike that turkey bacon crud my mom tried to feed me whenever she was trying to eat better. It's only 2 pts for two slices. Maybe 2.5 depending on the brand and whether you count half points. I don't b/c my old school points slider doesn't mark half points. Anyhow. It's not as flavorful as real bacon, so I'll buy that if I'm eating only a slice, or if I need a slice or two for an entire recipe to impart bacon flavor.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Taco Bell vs. Homemade

The other day a friend of mine craved Taco Bell. She craved it so much, she was ready to pick some up on her way home from work. But, being diet conscious, she didn't really want to spend the points. Taco Bell can be point-laden, depending on what you order. For a decent-sized 9 pt. meal you could have 2 hard taco supremes fresco style (with beef, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa) and a side of pintos and cheese fresco style (beans, red sauce, and salsa). For the same amount of points though I can recreate two regular style taco supremes with beans and cheese for the same point value. And, it's actually better than eating Taco Bell in the first place.

Taco Bell
2 Taco Supreme®
(seasoned ground beef, cheese, tomato, lettuce, and sour cream)
1 order of Pintos n' Cheese
(refried beans and cheese, no red sauce)

2 homemade taco "supremes"
(seasoned extra lean ground beef (at least 92% lean), 2 tbsp shredded Kraft 2% milk sharp cheddar cheese, tomato, lettuce, and 1 tbsp fat free sour cream)
1/2 cup fat-free refried beans with 2 tbsp shredded Kraft 2% milk sharp cheddar cheese 2

My point is, sometimes Taco Bell can be convenient, but if you want to save 4 points and have something taste less healthier than it really is for you — make it at home.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A versatile relish that's good with fish or poultry

Tonight I made the grilled salmon with tomato/corn relish from the June 2007 cover of Cooking Light. If you don't like salmon, this relish would be good with chicken, too. I really liked it b/c you could really take advantage of the season's best produce, and here in Ohio, there's lots of corn and tomatoes in the summer. I followed the directions on cooking the salmon, but accidentally overcooked it. Oops. Live and learn I suppose.

I also made a side salad and whole wheat couscous. The couscous was the perfect grain b/c it sopped up all the extra juices from the relish. YUM. Definitely a make again.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What I do with leftover veggies...

Besides making an "everything but the kitchen sink" salad, I'll turn leftover odds and ends into a tuna salad sandwich. Tuna salad is one of those things that tastes good with whatever you choose to put in it. I grew up on tuna salad that consisted of mayo, canned tuna, and sweet relish. And a lot of the time, that's how I make it.

When I went to throw it together yesterday, though, I decided to do something different. I had a lot of leftover carrots, celery, a cucumber, and some green onions languishing in the fridge just waiting to spoil. Although I have a boyfriend, he doesn't live with me and rarely is around through the week to eat at my apartment. So, for the most part, my cooking is cooking for one. When I buy a whole bag of carrots, some typically goes to waste. Sure, I can buy single carrots at Kroger, etc. But those are generally more expensive than the entire bag. Not per ounce, just more expensive overall. Sometimes it's a better deal, but in case of the carrots, it's not.

So anyhow, this week's tuna salad is all of the leftover veggies (about a 1/4 cup of each) plus 2 cans of chunk light tuna in water, and enough light mayo to make it creamy. This week's bread is Arnold's 100% whole wheat dutch country bread because it was on special.

Monday, July 9, 2007

A burger with bulgur?

I admit I was not so sure how these would turn out. I was afraid they'd be dry and grainy, or DBF wouldn't like them because of the pinto beans. If they were too beany, he won't eat them. (BTW: he's the only person I've met who doesn't like beans.) But, they were delicious. Moist, but not too much so, and you could tell they were made mostly of beans by their texture, but it didn't taste like beans. And oh my god were they filling. DBF couldn't even finish his.

On the side were steamed fresh green beans and sweet potato fries. Overall, a thumbs up.

Veggie Burgers
1/4 cup medium-grind bulgur
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 can (14.5 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large egg
1 large carrot, grated
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. tahini
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 whole wheat English muffins, toasted

In a medium bowl, mix bulgur with 1/4 tsp. coarse salt and 1 cup boiling water. Cover bowl, and let sit until bulgur is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to remove liquid.

Place beans in a medium bowl; mash with a potato masher until a coarse paste forms. Add breadcrumbs, scallions, egg, carrot, cayenne, tahini, and bulgur. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Form mixture into 4 patties, each about 1 inch thick.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-low. Cook patties until browned and firm, 5 to 8 minutes per side. Serve on English muffins.

Sweet Potato Fries
2 sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs), peeled and cut into 1/2-by-2-inch sticks
2 tbsp olive oil
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice.

Preheat oven to 450°. Divide potatoes between two rimmed baking sheets; toss with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer, without overlapping. Roast, tossing once, until tender and starting to brown, 25-30 minutes.

Sprinkle with lemon juice; season with salt and pepper, if needed. Toss to coat.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

No food blog is complete without...

...a fridge shot! OK, so it's another day of leftovers. Seriously, I think I'm as sick of them as much as you are sick of my non-food posts. Anyhow. The top has fat free mayo, some sour mix, iced tea, skim milk, sliced lemons for tea and water, and leftover gazpacho. The center rack is mostly condiments and leftovers. The bottom is organic baby greens, my carton of two dozen eggs, and whole wheat english muffins. The drawer has feta cheese (notice NOT fat free!), Laughing Cow light, part-skim ricotta apples, celery, carrots, and some lunchmeat.

I have a lot of condiments! The most used probably being the Frank's hot sauce and blackberry jam from Trader Joe's (not eaten together, of course).

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Another picture of of me...

Today was leftover day, so I thought I would post a picture of me from last night. Joe and I went downtown for Red White and Boom after a cookout with my family with "Asian" slaw, fruit salad, and grilled brats. Dessert was birthday cake for my sister. I was stuffed, but it was all very good!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Cold soup on a hot day

Soup is hard to photograph! Just thought I would say that.

Last month was pretty hot, and usually, July is even hotter. There's nothing better on a hot day than a cold meal and gazpacho is a classic cold meal. Probably the only cold soup I can stand. Most I just find weird. But not gazpacho. YUM. And it's all veggies, so a cup should be at least two servings. Plus, if you don't add a lot of olive oil to the recipe, it's extremely point friendly. In fact, this gazpacho is only 1 pt. for a generous 1.5 cup serving. I drizzle a teaspoon of oil over it before serving. It's a way to "sneak" in a serving of oil. Another good addition would be some cooked salad-sized shrimp.

I ate the soup for lunch with lean deli-sliced turkey w/ deli mustard on a toasted whole grain english muffin. Not very "gourmet," but tasty, filling, and only 5 pts.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Gnocchi without the potatoes

When I'm out at an Italian restaurant, I order gnocchi when it's available because I have heard the package premade variety have a funkdafied chemical aftertaste, so I've always been scared to try them. Not having a food mill, I've never really attempted making gnocchi at home.

That is until I saw a recipe for ricotta gnocchi with spinach. I found a recipe in Bon Appetit, so I ran it through recipe builder. It came out as 7 pts. That's reasonable, but with baking, and boiling, and etc. etc. etc., the recipe sounded a bit involved. Miraculously I found a Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi on the Weight Watchers site and it was easier. Surprisingly, despite needing a serious case of seasoning—it's very good. I skipped the suggestion to serve with tomato sauce from a can, and made my own adapting a recipe from an America's Test Kitchen episode.

Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi
1 bunch fresh spinach, stems removed
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese

Steam spinach just until wilted. Squeeze in a kitchen towel to remove all of the excess water and finely chop.

Combine spinach, flour, bread crumbs, and both cheese in a bowl. Drop 1 tbsp into flour and roll into an oval. Repeat until 36 gnocchi are formed.

Drop into a pot of boiling, salted water and cook until gnocchi float to the top, about 2 minutes. Makes six servings of six gnocchi.

Marinara Sauce
2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes in juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
2 medium cloves garlic , minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/3 cup dry red wine
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 - 2 teaspoons sugar , as needed

Pour tomatoes and juice into strainer set over large bowl. Open tomatoes with hands and remove and discard fibrous cores; let tomatoes drain excess liquid, about 5 minutes. Remove 3/4 cup tomatoes from strainer and set aside. Reserve 2 1/2 cups tomato juice and discard remainder.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden around edges, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and oregano and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes from strainer and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring every minute, until liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to stick to bottom of pan and brown fond forms around pan edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Add wine and cook until thick and syrupy, about 1 minute. Add reserved tomato juice and bring to simmer; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally and loosening browned bits, until sauce is thick, 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer sauce to food processor and add reserved tomatoes; process until slightly chunky, about eight 2-second pulses. Return sauce to skillet and add basil and extra-virgin olive oil and salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.