Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chicken Pho

I love pho. Now, pronounce it correctly, fuh. Seems weird to say at first, but whenever I order it in a Thai restaurant and use the correct pronunciation, the waiter/ waitress will give me a huge smile.

Pho is a wonderful soup, full of delicious flavors and textures that mingle perfectly. Soft rice noodles, crisp bibb lettuce and bean sprouts, salty fish sauce, spicy ginger and cinnamon, and so on. Really a bright and refreshing soup, but you have to use the cilantro and mint and absolutely remember to squeeze fresh lime on before eating. These garnishes truly make pho, well, pho!

Two notes: I added some red bell pepper strips for color (and extra veggie-ness) and more bean sprouts because I was trying to make a dent in a huge bag I had bought last week.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Chicken Pho

Recipe adapted from Cuisine at Home
Servings: 4

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------

40 ounces low-salt chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger root
12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast -- sliced into thin strips
4 ounces rice vermicelli
1/2 cup red onion -- thinly sliced
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup scallions -- green part only, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
12 small bibb lettuce leaves
2 cups bean sprouts
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves -- chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves -- chopped
1/4 cup jalapeno chili -- thinly sliced
1 small lime -- cut into wedges

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the vermicelli.

Mix the chicken broth, cinnamon, and gingerroot in a large pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add chicken and cook for 10 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, stir the vermicelli into the hot water and remove from the heat, stir a few times until the noodles are softened.

Add the red onion and carrot to the chicken broth and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in fish sauce, lime juice, and scallions.

Drain the noodles and divide between 4 large, shallow bowls. Arrange the Bibb lettuce leaves on top of the noodles. Divide the chicken broth, chicken, and vegetables between the 4 bowls. Top with bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, and chili
slices. Serve with wedges of lime to squeeze over.

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Per serving: 209 Calories (kcal); 6g Total Fat; (21% calories from fat); 35g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 52mg Cholesterol; 117mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 4 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Greek Chicken Roulades; Creamy Orzo with feta and sun-dried tomatoes

I’ve been happily cooking my way though the recipes in CuisineLite , and the latest was the cover recipe, Greek Chicken Roulades.

This is a great special-occasion recipe, very impressive looking yet quite easy. I made the filling earlier in the day, and also pounded the chicken breasts, so this was very quick to assemble and cook in the evening. The combination of flavors in both this and the side dish, Creamy Orzo with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Feta, is awesome.

As for the orzo, it is cooked in broth (like risotto) instead of being boiled in water. This gives it a creamy texture and nicely compliments the chewy sun-dried tomatoes and soft feta.

I did increase the amount of cornstarch used to thicken the sauce because there was a lot of sauce, and I think that next time I will also decrease the amount of broth to 1-1/4 cups.

A note: although rum is our alcoholic beverage of choice, and we enjoy a glass of red wine (sometimes two!) with most of our dinners, white wine is not often in stock at our home. Because of this I will occasionally buy a bottle of white wine to use in a recipe and then freeze the remaining in ice cube trays, later transferred to a small freezer bag (and labeled!) for future use. The cubes never freeze totally, but otherwise it works quite well. :)

Greek Chicken Roulades with white-wine reduction.

Look for chicken breasts that are at least six ounces in weight - - they’ll be big enough to hold the filling when pounded thin and rolled.

Calories: 389
Makes 2 servings
Total time: 30 minutes

12 pitted kalamata olives, divided
3 Tbsp. fresh bread crumbs (about 1 slice, trimmed of crust, whirled in the food processor)
3 Tbsp minced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 Tbsp. minced lemon zest
2 gloves garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 oz. each), trimmed of fat
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. cornstarch (I used 2 teaspoons)

Dice 6 olives; set aside. Process remaining 6 olives, bread crumbs, tomatoes, zest, garlic and oregano in a food processor until minced.

Using a mallet, pound the chicken between plastic wrap to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Spread olive-tomato filling on chicken and roll; secure with toothpicks.

Sauté roulades in oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned on all sides, 4-6 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate. Add onion to the skillet; sauté 2 minutes. Add wine; cook until liquid is reduced by half, 1-2 minutes. Add broth. Bring mixture to a boil; add diced olives and chicken rolls.

Cover skillet; reduce heat. Simmer chicken rolls 10 minutes; remove chicken to a plate. Whisk together lemon juice and cornstarch; stir into sauce in skillet. Simmer for 1 minute. Slice rolls; serve with sauce.

Per service with sauce : 389 cal; 10g total fat (2g sat, 6g mono, 2g poly); 102 mg chol; 770 mg sodium; 19g carb (2g fiber, 5g total sugars); 45g protein; 3 mg iron; 64 mg calcium.

Creamy Orzo with feta and sun-dried tomatoes
Start boiling the pasta before making the roulades, then finish the orzo dish while the chicken simmers.

Calories: 293
Makes 2 servings
Total time: 30 minutes

1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup dry orzo pasta (4 oz.)
2 Tbsp. minced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese (1 oz.)
1/8 tsp. each kosher salt and ground black pepper

Bring broth to a boil in a small saucepan; stir in orzo. Return liquid to a boil. Cook orzo, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed, 9 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat.

Stir tomatoes and feta into orzo, mixing until feta melts slightly. Season orzo mixture with salt and pepper. Serve with Chicken Roulades.

Per serving : 293 calories; 5g total fat (3g sat, 2g mono, 0g poly); 16mg chol; 424mg sodium; 47g carb (3g fiber, 4g total sugars); 13g protein; 2mg iron; 87mg calcium .

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Strawberry Balsamic Chicken with Feta

About 20 years ago, I decided that we should stop eating red meat. I had become more concerned about what Jack and I ate, and was reading various books and magazine articles about the benefits of healthy eating. Here’s the funny part—I was interested in this subject because I was getting older--- 30! :) Imagine...

In any case, we stopped eating red meat. It was difficult at first, and we occasionally “cheated” with a grilled hamburger at a picnic, or pot roast for Sunday dinner, but as we continued it became easier and easier to concentrate on eating more fish and poultry instead of any beef at all. In fact, a couple of years into this, we went out to dinner and Jack’s mouth started to water when our dining companions kept raving about the melt-in-your-mouth prime rib at this restaurant. So he ordered it and ate less than half of his meal, telling everyone that he was full and that it was a huge portion. Yes, it was, but the problem actually was that, to him, the meat tasted heavy and greasy. And he did not feel well for two days afterward (we gave the remaining meat in our “doggie bag” to our dog, who was incredibly grateful!). A few years after that, in autumn, I was craving pot roast. Made with carrots and mashed potatoes and gravy, I just could not get it out of my head. So I bought a piece of meat (I actually had to go online to find out the best cut since it had been so long), and prepared it. It was absolutely delicious and we dug in. Oh my, neither of us felt well for a couple of days afterward. I was bloated and felt sluggish and was a little depressed—the pot roast was so good!

That ended our occasional attempts at eating red meat. We were simply not "used to it" any longer.

An article in Nutrition Action (a health newsletter published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest) in June 2009 only confirmed the reason why I omitted red meat from our diet. A joint study by the NIH and the AARP followed the diets of over a half-million people over a period of 10 years (through questionnaires). The results indicated that, within this 10 year period, those who ate the most red meat (about 5 ounces of red meat a day in a 2,000 calorie per day diet as opposed to those in the low end, who ate about 2/3 ounce of red meat per day on average) were roughly 30% more likely to die, and this was mostly the result of heart disease or cancer.

The entire study is fascinating. I didn’t know this when we started our red meat-less diet, but if we could possibly avoid, or reduce our risk of, heart disease and cancer (especially colorectal, but also prostrate and pancreatic), simply by eliminating red meat from our diet, well, why not? There are plenty of other food options out there!

Most recipes which call for beef or pork can be adapted to use chicken or turkey. Some are easier than others. For example, the following recipe was originally published in CuisineLite as Balsamic Steak with Fruit and Gorgonzola. All I did was to sub grilled chicken breast for the pan-fried tenderloin fillets and use reduced-fat feta cheese for the gorgonzola. One of my favorite summer salads contains grilled chicken, feta, and fresh strawberries, so I knew that this combination would be great. And it was quite good. Jack said that it was excellent.

This is such a quick recipe. Grill the chicken while you make the sauce and slice the strawberries—it couldn’t be easier. I wanted to serve Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley as a side, so that was started first (it takes 45 minutes to cook), and I also made green beans sautéed with garlic and finished with a squeeze of lemon juice.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Strawberry Balsamic Chicken with Feta

Servings : 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast -- (2 pieces)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon strawberry jam -- (rounded)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup sliced strawberries

2 tablespoons reduced fat feta cheese -- crumbled

Preheat grill. Spray chicken breasts with cooking spray and sprinkle with pepper. Cook until done.

While chicken cooks, pour vinegar into a small saucepan. Heat over a medium flame until it is reduced and thickened, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the jam and set aside.

Place chicken on serving dish, sprinkle with salt, brush with balsamic glaze. Sprinkle strawberries and feta over top, drizzle with remaining glaze.


"adapted from CuisineLite"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 259 Calories (kcal); 4g Total Fat; (15% calories from fat); 43g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 104mg Cholesterol; 791mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 5 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 0 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lacquered Chicken with Spicy Ginger Sauce

Both Jack and I love spicy food. He apparently has a higher heat-tolerance than I do because often I will make a recipe and find myself almost unable to eat it while he will wipe his face with his napkin, grin, and proclaim “this is nice and spicy!”.

Seriously, I’m not a weenie about spice. A friend once thinly sliced some of his home-grown Scotch bonnet peppers, and placed a sliver on a cheddar-topped cracker. It was hot, very hot, searingly hot, but the delicious flavor combination was irresistible. I ate several (and drank a lot of cold beer). Those, my husband deemed to be too spicy for his taste. Go figure.

I recently prepared a Cuisine at Home recipe which tested both of our spice limits. Lacquered Short Ribs with Spicy Ginger Glaze was altered and became Lacquered Chicken (because we do not eat beef). It was changed from a crockpot recipe to a non-crockpot recipe. And the spice level of the glaze was toned down dramatically (though, apparently, not quite enough!).

I knew that it would be trouble when I read that one of the ingredients for the glaze, to serve 4, was ¼ cup of Sriracha sauce. So I reduced it to 2 tablespoons and that really pushed my spice limit. But Jack said that it was perfect although maybe a little too spicy. In fact, be both were so impressed with the flavor of the glaze that I plan to make it in quantity, with less Sriracha—the stuff will be awesome on grilled chicken. And, in addition to serving it over steamed rice as I did, this would be excellent served as a sandwich on a hearty whole-grain roll.


This was a really quick recipe since I was using poached chicken breasts instead of cooking short ribs in the glaze in a crockpot. Any kind of precooked, shredded chicken can be used (such as rotisserie chicken bought at a grocery store). This is my version of the Cuisine at Home recipe:

Lacquered Chicken with Spicy Ginger Sauce

Serves 2

10 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast

For the spicy ginger sauce-
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh gingerroot
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce (or more, if you can handle it!)
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon reserved poaching liquid (or water)

Poach chicken in water to cover, adding some onion, celery, carrot, and peppercorns to flavor broth. When almost cooked, turn off heat and cover. Cool in pot for 15 minutes, remove lid and continue to cool for another 15 minutes. Remove chicken to a cutting board. Strain the poaching liquid into a container for later use.

Combine scallions, gingerroot, brown sugar, vinegar, Sriracha sauce, molasses, hoisin sauce, lime juice, and poaching liquid or water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer on very low for 15-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, shred chicken.

When sauce is cooked down a bit and thickened, add the chicken shreds, mix well, and cook, covered, for 15-30 minutes occasionally (stir often and add additional broth/water if the sauce becomes too thick and starts to stick to the pan).

Serve over rice.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Shrimp Korma, Saag Aloo

I looked at the calendar this morning and noticed that Spring will officially start on Saturday! At long, very long, terribly long, last!!! :) We went to the lake house for a few days to deal with cleaning up storm damage there, and when we returned to the farm the change was incredible. After a week of warm temperatures and sun, and 2 days of rain, there is no snow. None. Well, a few pockets of the white stuff which remain at the northeast part of the house, closest to the porch, but other than that… wow. The night before we left I needed to grill chicken to take with us for use in a few recipes and I had to stand at the side of the grill because there was still too much snow piled around the front and other side. Amazing. Welcome, oh yes, and amazing. One month ago, there was over 2’ of snow everywhere, I had to strap on my snowshoes to make my way down to the mailbox, and it seemed as though winter would never end. I’m not kidding myself. We do get snow into April, but it will not last long. The warm, fuzzy, gentle light of spring is absolutely, most definitely at the end of the tunnel now!

Last week, I came across a great deal on shrimp while grocery shopping. I buy wild, gulf shrimp and often cannot seem to find them already peeled and deveined. Really, it’s one of my few indulgences since I do not like preparing shrimp but I do love to eat them. bought a couple of bags and for dinner I made Shrimp Korma from the book Curry, Fire and Spice by Mridula Baljekar.

I have made this recipe once before and my notes indicated that while it was very good, something was missing. The shrimp, even after being cooked in the sauce, needed some flavor. I remedied this by sprinkling the raw shrimp with cumin and allowing them to stand for a few minutes to allow the flavor to absorb. Also, a sprinkling of chopped, roasted cashews added a satisfying crunch. These two simple adjustments to the recipe worked for us, and served with saag aloo (spinach and potatoes) it was a very flavorful, warming meal. I suppose I could have added another vegetable (I don’t often serve rice and potatoes in the same meal), but it worked.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Shrimp Korma

Recipe adapted from Curry, Fire & Spice

Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

10 ounces large shrimp -- peeled and deveined

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons plain lowfat yogurt

2 tablespoons light coconut milk

2 tablespoons skim milk

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon ground red chili pepper -- not chili powder (which is a mix of different peppers); if unavailable, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper will be a decent substitute

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

2/3 cup water

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon grated ginger root

1 piece cinnamon stick -- about 1"

2 whole green cardamom pods

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons cashews -- chopped

hot, cooked basmati rice

Drain shrimp on paper towels to remove excess water.

Place yogurt through water in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside

Sprinkle ground cumin evenly over the shrimp and toss lightly. Set aside.

Heat oil in a wok over medium heat and add garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom pods. Turn heat to low and fry for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the yogurt mixture and raise the heat to bring to a boil, stirring often.

Add shrimp and cook, stirring, constantly until sauce thickens a little more and shrimp turn pink.

Portion rice onto serving plates, divide shrimp on top of rice, pour extra sauce over, garnish with cilantro and chopped cashews.

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Nutritional information does not include rice

Per serving: 296 Calories (kcal); 13g Total Fat (2g Saturated); (37% calories from fat); 33g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 217mg Cholesterol; 309mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 4 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

NOTES : The coconut extract is essential. If not available, increase coconut milk to 4 tablespoons and omit the skim milk.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Saag Aloo (Spinach with Potatoes)

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

4 ounces fresh spinach

2 teaspoons canola oil

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 medium onion -- halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced

1 large garlic clove -- crushed

1 teaspoon minced ginger

6 ounces white potato -- cut into 1" pieces

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

Steam the spinach for 3-4 minutes, then remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and fry the mustard and cumin seeds until they begin to sputter (do not burn them!). Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the potatoes, cayenne, salt, and water. Cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes, stirring often and adding more water if necessary to prevent sticking.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 128 Calories (kcal); 5g Total Fat (trace Saturated); (32% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 319mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Orange-Chipotle Salmon Patties

We are completing our fifth sunny day in a row. Life is good! I heard on the news last week sometime that this area had 2 sunny days in February (along with 22 days of snowfall) so, really, I feel like I’m livin’ in the tropics! Well, except for the 6” of snow still on the patio. But the rain which is expected over the next few days should certainly take care of that. Yay.

I’ve been exchanging the winter decorations in the house for spring ones, and the newer atmosphere has considerably lightened our moods. It has been a difficult winter and we look forward to longer days, more sun, and finally being able to go outside without having to shovel snow or strap on the snowshoes!

I have been really enjoying my new publication from the publishers of Cuisine at Home called CuisineLite. There are several recipes which I have made that I will be writing about in the next few days, but today I will write about a meal that I made recently that inspired by CL.

A favorite “comfort food” which my Mom made as we were growing up was salmon patties. Canned red salmon mixed with an egg, crushed saltines, minced onion, and seasonings (I think black pepper, celery salt, and maybe garlic salt). Served with corn (Green Giant niblets, of course) and mashed potatoes, it was one of our favorite meals. And the tradition continues as my Mom makes this for her grandchildren (she asked my 11-year old nieces last week what they would like for dinner, spaghetti or salmon patties, and the resounding answer was for the salmon. Go figure!).

I introduced this culinary delight to Jack after we were married and he mentioned that although his mother made something similar from canned tuna, he preferred the salmon. I made the switch from canned red salmon to the less inexpensive pink variety because of cost, and other than the color I cannot tell a big difference between the two. I also began to add Old Bay seasoning which I thought spiced it up nicely, and lemon juice. And this is how I made salmon patties for the past 25+ years. Until yesterday.

In the CuisineLite book I saw an interesting recipe for Zesty Salmon Burgers with Chipotle Mayonnaise. Orange juice and zest, scallions, and s&p were processed with fresh salmon fillet, then made into burgers, broiled, and served with a mayo-chipotle pepper-cilantro as a sandwich. Hmmm. I had never thought of using orange juice, and chipotle pepper would add some wonderful heat and smokey flavor to my ol’ salmon patties. Plus, with the wild salmon that I buy running around $10/pound, I would prefer to use the canned salmon for something like this.

And so I did. Because I would not be serving the salmon patties as sandwiches, I added the chipotle and cilantro into the fish mixture along with an egg white to help hold it together. This was incredible. Jack has requested that I never make them “the old way” again (thanks, dear!). Orange, chipotle, and salmon are great together, as my recipe for Orange-Bourbon Glazed Salmon (with chipotle) attests, but the addition of these ingredients just kicks up the comfort-food salmon patty to new heights. There is a definite orange punch, and the smoke/spice from the chipotle is pretty darn tasty.

And then I figured that, if I’m changing the salmon patty ingredients, I might as well play with the other standard menu items as well. I mashed the potatoes with orange juice, sour cream, and minced green onions; and instead of plain ol’ corn I made a mixture of edamame, corn, and red bell pepper. Awesome meal! Comfort food of my youth bumped up a few notches. ;)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Orange-Chipotle Salmon Patties

Recipe By : Vicci
Servings: 3

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 large egg white
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons chopped scallions
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo
1 teaspoon minced cilantro
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
14 ounces canned pink salmon

Beat egg white in a medium bowl until foamy. Add the next 7 ingredients (through black pepper) and blend.

Drain liquid from salmon, break into chunks (removing any silvery or dark skin). Any of the soft bones can be crushed and added to the salmon to be used in the recipe (it is a great source of calcium). Add to the bowl and mix with hands. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.

On a waxed paper lined baking sheet, divide mixture into 6 balls, then flatten to make patties.

Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. This will make the patties easier to work with when transferring to the pan and turning, but it is not essential to the recipe (realizing, of course, that you will have to be extra careful in handling the patties while cooking).

Preheat the broiler and line a broiler pan with foil. Spray with cooking spray and transfer the patties to the pan. Broil about 6" from the heating element for 4 minutes, or until they brown lightly. Turn and continue to broil until the other side is lightly browned. Serve.

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Per serving: 203 Calories (kcal); 10g Total Fat; (44% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 83mg Cholesterol; 578mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 10 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

Orange-Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

Peel 3 medium white potatoes and boil in a covered saucepan containing about 3” of water until tender. Drain cooking water into a measuring cup.

To the potatoes, add ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice, 2 tablespoons light sour cream, and a few grinds of black pepper.

Mash, adding additional cooking as needed for the desired consistency.

Fold in 2 tablespoons chopped scallions (white and light green parts).