July 2007


I’ve been so busy with work and other things that I haven’t been able to plan my meals out lately. On Tuesday night, I had no idea what I was gong to make. I ended up going to Whole Foods with my friend Allison for some inspiration.

My inspiration: Leeks! Leeks are part of the onion family but they’re sweeter and much more delicate. I left Whole Foods with some leeks and some crimini mushrooms (baby portobellas) and headed home to whip up a new creation.

Below is what I came up with . It was very good, and really only took 20 minutes to make!


Serves 2

Clean one leek by cutting off the roots and tough top portion. Cut the “good” part down the middle (you’ll end up with two half moons) and slice each half thinly. Place the chopped leeks into a bowl of water so the dirt can easily fall out. (Leeks grow in the ground and sometimes have dirt in between their many layers)

Thinly slice about 10 crimini mushrooms.

Preheat a large skillet with about 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil and 1 tb. butter. Cut up two chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add the chicken to the skillet. Saute until the chicken is browned on all sides, about 4 minutes.

Remove the leeks from the water, squeeze the excess water out of them and add them to the pan with the mushrooms.

Stir to combine the mixture and let it cook for about 3 minutes, or until the leeks have wilted and the mushrooms have softened. Add 1/2 cup white wine and 1 tsp. butter to the pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let the wine reduce for about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and you’re done!

Serve over couscous or orzo pasta.

Bon appetit!

I hope you’ve enjoyed Hillman’s Helpings!


Lauren Hillman
Hillman’s Helpings


This dish is AMAZING. Mr. Hillman’s Helpings thought it tasted like it came from a restaurant. Actually, it came from my favorite recipe source, Cooking Light. 🙂


Serves 4

2 quarts water
1/2 pound tomatillos (about 10 small), husks and stems removed
1 garlic clove
1/2 to 1 serrano chile
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 (1-ounce) slices white bread
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled queso fresco cheese
Cilantro sprigs (optional)
Lime wedges (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare salsa, bring water to a boil. Add tomatillos, garlic, and chile; cook 7 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Combine tomatillos, garlic, chile, chopped cilantro, onion, lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor or blender; pulse 4 to 5 times or until coarsely chopped. Set aside.

To prepare chicken, place bread in a food processor, and pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 1/2 cups. Arrange crumbs on a baking sheet; bake at 350° for 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, cumin, and red pepper; sprinkle evenly over chicken.

Place breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Place egg in another shallow dish. Dip chicken in egg; dredge in breadcrumbs.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Top chicken with salsa, and sprinkle with queso fresco cheese. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges, if desired.


I have to apologize for being a bit of a slacker. I’d planned on providing two recipes in this issue, but unforeseen circumstances prevented me from devoting a lot of time to it. If you check my blog this week, I’ll try to post the other recipe soon.

Always on the lookout for low fat desserts, my best friend Jamie gave this recipe to me. Our love for the banana, peanut butter and chocolate combination is shared and this recipe brings out the best in all three flavors, without packing on the pounds.



Crust: (you can use pre-made graham cracker crust to save time and effort)

1 cup vanilla wafer cookies (about 20 cookies)

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted

Cooking spray


3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese

1/2 cup reduced-fat peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (8-ounce) container frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed

1 1/2 cups sliced banana (about 2 bananas)

1/4 cup fat-free chocolate sundae syrup

Preheat oven to 350°.

For crust: Place cookies in a food processor; process until finely ground. Add 1/3 cup brown sugar and butter; pulse 2 to 3 times or just until combined. Press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes; cool completely on a wire rack.

For Filling: Place 3/4 cup brown sugar, cream cheese, peanut butter, and vanilla in a mixing bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Arrange banana in bottom of prepared crust. Spread peanut butter mixture over banana; drizzle with syrup. Cover and freeze 8 hours; let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

I hope you enjoyed Hillman’s Helpings!


Lauren Hillman
Hillman’s Helpings

Last night wehad some friends over for dinner. Earlier that morning we were at Costco (what a fun outing for a Sunday morning…) getting some supplies for the apartment and I noticed they had Sockeye Salmon, the wild salmon from the Pacific Ocean. The salmon has a deep red color and a much stronger (i.e. better) flavor than regular salmon IMHO.

We made the couscous too and it was a great meal.


Ponzu Grilled Salmon with Couscous
Serves 4

1 teaspoon extravirgin olive oil
2 tablespoons thinly sliced peeled shallots (about 1 large)
1 cup uncooked Israeli couscous (use regular if you can’t find Israeli)
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raw spinach leaves, trimmed

1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons sake (rice wine)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Remaining ingredients:
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets with skin (about 1 inch thick)
Cooking spray
Lime wedges (optional)

Preheat grill. (or grill pan)
To prepare couscous, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots; sauté 5 minutes or until shallots are tender and just beginning to brown. Stir in couscous; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add water and salt; cover and simmer 8 minutes or until couscous is tender. Remove from heat; stir in spinach. Toss gently until combined and spinach wilts. Keep warm.

To prepare sauce, combine orange juice and next 6 ingredients (through red pepper) in a small saucepan, stirring well with a whisk; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 1 minute.

To prepare fish, brush cut sides of fillets with 1/4 cup sauce; place, skin sides up, on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill salmon, skin sides up, 2 minutes. Turn salmon fillets; brush with remaining 1/4 cup sauce. Grill 3 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or desired degree of doneness. Serve with couscous and lime wedges, if desired.


For special occasions, Mr. Hillman’s Helpings likes standard man food, meat and potatoes. Unfortunately, with this 95+ degree weather we’ve been having here in D.C., a heavy meal is less than optimal.

So when I was planning a special occasion dinner for him this week, I decided to go against the norm and make fish. I settled on a Cooking Light recipe from the June 2005 issue; Tilapia with Mustard Cream sauce. It turned out wonderful, was cooked perfectly and was a great light meal to compliment our heavy weather.

Tilapia is a great white, flaky fish that’s not too expensive and will take on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with.


P.S. If you’re interested in what else I made with this meal, click here.

Serves 4

4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 ounce portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used spinach instead and it was perfect)
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons dijon mustard


Sprinkle fish with thyme, pepper, and salt. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fish; cook 1 minute on each side. Add broth, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Add mushrooms (or spinach); cook, uncovered, 1 minute or until mushrooms are tender.

Carefully remove fish from pan (becasue it is prone to falling apart); keep warm.

Add cream and mustard to pan; stir with a whisk until well combined. Cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.

If you want to make a nice presentation, put the mushrooms/spinach in the middle of the plate, lay the fish on an angle on top of the veggies and drizzle the sauce over the fish.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Hillman’s Helpings.


Lauren Hillman
Hillman’s Helpings

Monday was the 5th anniversary of my first date with Mr. Hillman’s Helpings. I planned a feast! I always like to try something new for special occasions so I made the following recipe for an appetizer. (I cut it in half because it was just the two of us)

Fresh Corn and Scallop Johnnycakes with Green Onion Sauce

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 large egg
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
3/4 pound bay scallops, coarsely chopped
Cooking spray

To prepare sauce, place first 8 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

To prepare cakes, combine cornmeal and next 6 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon red pepper) in a large bowl; add buttermilk, 1 tablespoon of chives, and egg, stirring with a whisk until blended. Stir in corn and scallops.

Heat a nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Spoon batter by heaping tablespoons onto hot pan. Turn johnnycakes over when edges begin to brown (about 2 minutes). Cook an additional 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove johnnycakes from pan; cover and keep warm. Repeat procedure with cooking spray and remaining batter. Serve warm with sauce.


Then I served a mized green salad with croutons, shaved parmesan chese and a champagne vinegrette.

Champagne Vinegrette

Add to a cruet:
1/8 cup champagne vinegar
1/8 cup freshly chopped basil
1 tbs. finely chopped shallot
1 tbs. dijon mustard
ground black pepper

Shake well!

Add 1.4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Shake well!



For dessert I made a super simple chocolate fondue that I served with bite sized pieces of pound cake, strawberries, bananas and marshmallows.

Chocolate Fondue

Put 1/2 cup heavy cream in a saucepan and heat until there are little bubbles on the edges. Add 3/4-1 cup semi-sewwt chocolate chips, a dash of salt and a glug (technical, huh?) of brandy and stir until the chocolate has melted. Pour into a bowl and eat!


To see what I made for the entree, check back tomorrow…

Last night my friends and I had a little 4th of July faux bbq (it was raining). I made the following recipe, which appeared in last week’s Food Section of The Washington Post. It turned out awesome.

Since it was raining we made it on the grill pan. It tasted like it was straight off the grill!


Balsamic-Marinated Flank Steak With Salsa Verde
The Washington Post, June 27, 2007

6 to 8 servings


For the marinade and steak:
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
• 2 medium cloves garlic, smashed
• 5 sprigs thyme
• 1 1/2 to 2 pounds flank steak
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
For the salsa verde:
• 2 small shallots
• 6 cornichons, drained and coarsely chopped
• 2 tablespoons capers, drained
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 1/4 cup packed basil leaves
• 1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper


For the marinade and steak: Combine the oil, vinegar, garlic and thyme in a large resealable plastic food storage bag. Add the steak and seal; massage lightly to distribute the marinade. Refrigerate to marinate for 4 to 5 hours.

If using a gas grill, preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under half of the cooking area for direct heat. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 4 or 5 seconds. When ready to grill, clean the grate well with a wire brush. Use an old dish towel to lightly oil the grate.

Remove the steak from its marinade and pat dry with paper towel; discard the marinade. Season the steak liberally with salt and pepper to taste. Grill the steak over direct heat for 6 to 7 minutes, turning it 45 degrees to create crosshatch marks. Move to the cooler side of the grate and grill to the desired degree of doneness (for medium-rare, a total of 14 minutes, turning the meat over halfway through). Transfer the meat to a platter and let it rest for 10 to 12 minutes before cutting it in thin slices against the grain.

For the salsa verde: Combine the shallots, cornichons, capers, parsley, basil, cilantro, vinegar, olive oil and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and serve at the table, to spoon over the steak.

Note: If you’re using the grill pan, 6-7 on each side for a 1.5 inch think steak should do the trick.

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