Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Don't be haters, but guess where I'm heading to in about 12 or so hours? NEW ORLEANS, baby!! Yup, I'm finally returning to the Big Easy - one of my fave cities in the whole word - after a multi-year absence. Although I'll be there for a wedding, I've already planned out my entire trip in terms of where I'll be eating and drinking in my free time. And yes, I'm fully prepared to come back lugging a few extra pounds around my waistline, because let's be frank...NOLA is not a city for dieters. I just plan to eat healthy foods and work out like a madwoman next week when I'm back in the ATL.

Anyhoo, for all of you who sit by jealously as I enjoy my trip to the Crescent City, here are a few low-calorie variations of some of their most famous menu items.

TURKEY MUFFULETTA PITA
Ingredients:
3 oz smoked skinless light turkey meat, thiny sliced and cut into strips
2 oz provolone cheese, sliced and cut into strips
1 1/2 cup chopped red bell peppers
1/4 oz green olives, manzanilla, stuffed with pimiento and sliced (1/3 cup)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tbsp Italian fat-free salad dressing
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh iceberg lettuce, shredded
2 slices of white, enriched pita bread, 6 1/2" in size, cut in half crosswise

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients; toss well. Cover and chill for one hour.
2. Divide lettuce evenly into pita halves. Spoon turkey mixture evenly on top of lettuce.
3. Serve immediately.

CHICKEN JAMBALAYA
Ingredients:
1 spray non-fat cooking spray
2 1/2 oz raw turkey sausage, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium celery, stalk, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 medium chicken breast, cooked, skinless, cubed (about 2 cups)
28 oz canned tomatoes, whole, plum, peeled with juice
2 cups fat-free chicken broth
1 cup uncooked white rice, long-grain

Directions:
1. Coat a large, nonstick saucepan with cooking spray. Over high heat, sauté sausage until crispy on edges. Add onion, celery and green pepper; sauté until tender.
Reduce heat and stir in cayenne, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic; sauté until garlic is fragrant.
2. Stir in chicken, tomatoes, broth and rice. Bring to a simmer, cover and let cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
Flavor Booster: Popcorn rice, a specialty of Louisiana, is a delicious substitute for long-grain rice. The rice, which has a mild nutty taste like basmati rice, is available through gourmet food stores and Internet specialty shops

HURRICANE
Ingredients:
2 oz light rum
2 oz dark rum
* 2 oz passion fruit juice
1 oz orange juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
* 1 tbsp simple syrup
1 tbsp grenadine
* For a healthier recipe, use some V8 Splash Guava Passion and make sugar-free simple syrup combining 1 cup of sucralose with 1 cup of boiling water. Once it has cooled, strain the sucralose and water through a coffee filter.

Directions:
Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, pour into a hurricane glass and garnish with an orange slice and cherry.

BEIGNETS
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons granulated Splenda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1 cup water
1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil for frying
Powdered sugar

Directions:
1. In a saucepan, combine Splenda, salt, butter, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil.
2. Add flour and cook over medium heat, beating with spoon until dough forms a ball and leaves side of pan. Remove from heat.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with electric mixer at medium speed after each addition. Continue beating until the mixture is smooth.
4. Mix in vanilla.
5. Roll dough on a floured surface and cut into 2-inch squares.
6. In skillet, heat 1 to 2-inches of oil. Then fry dough (three or four pieces at a time) until puffy and golden brown on both sides.
8. Remove beignets and drain on paper towels. While hot, sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.

Finally, here is some great NOLA music bound to put a smile on your face. Enjoy! Or should I say - let the good times roll, chere!

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