Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Creamy Tomato Soup with a Mushroom-Provolone Panini

It has been really cold in Memphis, so I've been in soup mode lately. I was really in the mood for a thick, yet light tomato soup and I found
this recipe on foodnetwork.com. I decided to make it with vegetable broth and to leave out the prosciutto. I made up the panini recipe on my own. I love this panini they make at Panera Bread with mushrooms and mozzarella. This recipe is very similar. For a different twist, you could also add caramelized onions and/or roasted red bellpeppers.

Creamy Tomato Soup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 large clove minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 28oz can pureed tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup light cream or half and half

Sautee onion, celery, carrot, bay leave and garlic in butter until tender and beginning to caramelize. Add the tomato paste and sautee about 2 minutes. Add the flour and sautee two more minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients except the half and half/cream. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the half and half. Puree with an immersian blender or a regular blender, or serve as is.

Mushroom-Provolone Panini

3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/8c marsala cooking wine or vegetable broth
1/8 c vegetable broth
Sliced provolone
Sour dough bread

Melt butter with olive oil in a sautee pan. Add the mushrooms. Season with thyme and pepper. Sautee about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and tender. Add the wine and broth. Cook until liquid evaporates. Remove from heat. Preheat a George Foreman indoor grill (this is what I used to make mine), panini press, or pan. Butter two slices of sour dough bread. Lay three slices of cheese on the unbuttered side of one of the pieces of bread. Spoon some of the mushrooms evenly on top. Top with the second piece of bread. Grill sandwich until crispy and light brown on both sides and cheese is nicely melted. Serve immediately.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pumpkin Pie in a Cup!

I created this recipe based on a video I saw on foodnetwork.com where they scooped leftover pumpkin pie into a glass and layered it with vanilla ice cream. My wheels started turning and out popped this recipe! It requires a little work preparing each layer, but it's so worth it in the end! Another option would be to use the leftover pumpkin pie idea mentioned above. That would save you quite a bit of work. Man, you will absolutely love this dessert!

For the pumpkin pie layer:
1 15 oz can pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
1 can evaporated milk

For the crust layer:
1 unbaked store-bought pie crust
cinnamon and sugar
2 tablespoons whipping cream

For the pecans:
1 cup pecans
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream

Vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the ingredients for the pumpkin pie layer (through the evaporated milk). Pour into a square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the filling sets and is completely cooked.

While the filling is baking, unroll one pie crust and cut out 6 small leaves/person using a small cookie cutter. This recipe serves about 6 people, so you'll want to cut out at least 36 leaves. Brush each leaf with heavy cream and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. (another option would be to brush the entire crust with cream, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake on a cookie sheet. Then, crumble into pieces after its cooked.)Bake leaves/crust until light brown (approx. 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees, but keep an eye on it).

For the nuts, combine the pecans, 2 tbsp cream and brown sugar. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake alongside the filling for about 10-15 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Do not overbake or they will taste awful! The sugar should crystalize on the outside of the pecans.

For the ice cream: Spoon softened ice cream into a mixing bowl and sprinkle in cinnamon. Taste as you go, until you've added a generous amount.

To assemble each dessert: Using clear drinking glasses of your choice (or bowls would work fine), scoop a generous size scoop of WARM pumpkin pie filling. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, three pie crust leaves (or about a tbsp of pie crust crumbles), and a few pecans. Repeat the layers one more time, topping the dessert with three more leaves and pecans. Serve immediately. Wow, you will LOVE this!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sugar Cookies

I make these cookies at least twice a year, for Thanksgiving and for Christmas. The secret to soft, chewy cookies is to make sure you keep the dough relatively thick (don't roll it out any thinner than 1/4 of an inch thick) and to use a large cookie cutter that doesn't have a lot of little jagged edges (kind of "bubbly" looking like a big simple pumpkin, or a simple stocking or Christmas tree). The icing will set if you let the cookies sit out on the counter for a little while. This icing is SO tasty, because it has a little bit of butter in it.

1 c. butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
5 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 c. heavy cream

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extract. Combine the salt, baking powder, and flour. Slowly add to the rest of the ingredients in the mixer bowl and mix until just beginning to combine. Add the heavy cream and finish mixing until just combined (don't over beat your dough!) Place dough on a piece of plastic wrap and wrap it in a disk shape. Chill until easy to roll out (about 2 hours in the fridge or 45 minutes in the freezer). Dust your counter with flour and roll out dough- it should be at least 1/4" thick (don't roll it out too thin!) Cut out cookies and bake for 12 to 14 minutes until just beginning to turn light brown on the edges.


1 1/2 cups powedered sugar
3 tbs butter, softened
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp almond extract
1 tbsp milk
Food coloring
Sprinkles or colored sugar for decorating, optional

Combine the sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract, milk, and food coloring in a mixer bowl. Beat until nice and creamy. If its too thick add a drop or two of milk.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Amazing Flounder Simmered in a Tomato Garlic Sauce with Squash Couscous

I created both of these recipes myself! The fish recipe was based on a fish I remember my mom making all the time when I was a little girl. I remembered the flavors and tried to recreate it- it actually tasted exactly as I remembered! The couscous was an idea I had based on a recipe I saw on a cooking show that used zucchini. Both dishes are very flavorful, full of garlic and white wine. Yummy!

Flounder in Tomato Garlic Sauce

4 flounder filets or any white fish (snapper, cod, mahi mahi would all work great)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 medium sized onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup white cooking wine or other white wine
1 can stewed tomatoes

Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet (choose one that has a lid). Sautee onion over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until tender and beginning to caramelized. Add garlic, salt, pepper and basil and sautee one minute. Pour in the wine and tomatoes. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to release bits from the onions and garlic. Bring the heat down to a simmer. Lay the fish filets on top of the sauce, trying to overlap as little as possible. Season the top of each filet with a little salt and pepper. Spoon some of the sauce over each filet. Cover and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked completely and flakes easily with a fork.

Couscous with Yellow Squash

2 tbsp olive oil
3 small yellow squash, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1 can chicken broth
3 tbsp white wine
1 1/4 c whole wheat couscous

Heat the olive oil in a sautee pan (that has a lid) over medium heat. Add the onion and sautee for about 2 minutes. Add the squash and sautee until tender (until it begins to brown). Add the garlic clove and sautee one minute. Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Pour in the white wine to deglaze the pan. Add the broth and stir. Stir in the couscous, remove from the heat and cover. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice) Cuban Style

My Abuelita makes this recipe and it's so fantastic! The canned peas and pimentos added at the end give it a really unique flavor. (for the non-pea lovers, you can't really taste them-just a hint of peaness :) ) I promise your house will smell fantastic when you make this dish. Mundo and I aren't wine drinkers, so I use sherry cooking wine and just don't add quite as much salt. I can't even express with words how fantastic the flavors are in this dish. You will love it!

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt, pepper and garlic powder
vegetable oil
1 large bellpepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced (use fresh garlic-it tastes SO much better!)
1/4 cup sherry wine or cooking wine
4 oz. tomato sauce (just pour in 1/2 of an 8 oz can)
1 32 oz. container of chicken broth
yellow food coloring- I use 1/2 tsp of Badia brand yellow food coloring (found in the hispanic section of the grocery store). You can also use regular liquid yellow food coloring. Just add a little and stir and keep adding more until the liquid has a nice deep yellow color to it.
2 cups white rice (authentic recipe uses short grain, but I prefer long. Its up to you)
1 can peas, drained
1 medium sized jar of diced pimentos drained

Heat 3 tbsp vegetable oil in a large oven-safe pot. Brown the chicken thighs first, then the breasts and remove all of the meat from the pot. Add the diced bellpepper and onion to the pot and sautee until the onions are clear and tender. Add the garlic and sautee for one minute. Pour in the broth, wine, tomato sauce and food coloring (DO NOT ADD THE RICE YET!!). Add the chicken back to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover and place in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and shredd the chicken. Pour in the rice, bring back up to a boil, cover and place back in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Stir in the drained peas and pimentos.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Taco Soup

Whenever you open one of those cookbooks that was put together by the boy scouts or another organization for a fundraiser you will most definitely find several recipes for taco soup. This is the recipe I like to make. I use some sodium free ingredients to cut down on the amount of salt, which can be overwhelming when using so many canned foods in one dish. This makes a ton! It's a great dish to make when you want something you can eat all week. I love to serve this with a simple green salad and my dad's Mexican cornbread.

1.5 lbs. lean ground beef or lean ground turkey
1 small onion, diced
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can sodium-free corn
1 can sodium-free diced tomatoes
2 cans rotel tomatoes (I like to use mild, but you can add medium or hot if you like it spicy)
1 envelope low-sodium taco seasoning
1 envelope ranch dressing mix
2 cups of water
For optional toppings: Shredded cheddar, torn corn tortillas or tortilla chips, diced red onion, sour cream, avocado

Brown the ground beef/turkey with the onion. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Top with your favorite toppings.

Dad's Mexican Cornbread

I'm sure my sisters will remember my dad baking this cornbread on random Saturdays. It was almost always gone by the time we sat down to eat dinner, because we snacked on it all day. My favorite time to eat it is right when it comes out of the oven and its nice and hot. I love to serve it with chili and with my taco soup (recipe to follow this one). Its so easy to make and SO yummy! It's a great crowd-pleaser

1 1/2 c. cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. canola/vegetable oil
1 can creamed corn
1 1/2 onions diced
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar or more if you really love cheese like I do!
3 eggs, beaten
bottled jalapeno pepper rings, minced (amount to taste. I usually dice up a small palm full)

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

100% Whole Wheat Snickerdoodles

These cookies were so soft and chewy. They were really good! I love the lemon zest. Gives them a nice flavor. I baked half the dough and refrigerated the other half until we were ready for more freshly baked cookies!

1 cup sugar
1/2 c. lowfat butter
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat until fluffy. Turn off mixer. Pour in flour, baking powder and salt. Beat until just combined. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes, or until it can be handled and rolled into balls. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the cinnamon and sugar. Roll the balls in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Place on cookie sheet, at least 2 inches apart (they spread a lot). Bake for 7-10 minutes until light golden brown.

Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce, Asparagus, and Peas

This is a great fake-out! You think you're eating alfredo sauce, but it's actually very light. Broccoli also works great in this dish in place of or in addition to the asparagus. The addition of roasted red bell peppers is also fantastic. You can prepare it with whole wheat or regular linguine. This is a recipe from Cooking Light magazine. The only change I made was I used a little more cornstarch than it called for, because it just wasn't thick enough, and I used light cream instead of full-fat cream.

8 oz. whole wheat or regular linguine
1 3/4 cups sliced asparagus (one bunch)- make sure you break the ends off and throw them away-they are as tough as tree trunks!
1 c. frozen green peas, thawed
1 tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, minced (fresh tastes much better in this recipe)
1 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp cornstarch
1/3 c. light cream or heavy cream
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
dash of ground red pepper
grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Add asparagus during the last minute of cooking. Place peas in a colander. Drain the pasta mixture over the peas; set aside.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic to pan; saute 1 minute. Combine broth and cornstarch. ADd to pan and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in cream, juice, salt, black pepper and red pepper. Add pasta mixture to broth mixture; toss gently to coat. Garnish with freshly grated black pepper and Parmesan.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Greek Chicken Pitas

I envisioned a nice split pita sandwich until I realized that the pita bread I bought wasn't split! So, I ended up topping the pita bread with the chicken and cucumber/salad mix and then eating it with a knife and fork. It tasted great!

1 large bone-in, skin-on chicken breast
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
zest of one lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups torn romaine lettuce or bagged salad
1/4 c ranch dressing
1/2 cucumber, diced

Rub the chicken breast with the salt, pepper, lemon zest, garlic and drizzle of olive oil, making sure to rub under the skin as well as on top of the skin. Finish off with a final sprinkling of salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Remove meat from the bone and shred or cut into large cubes.

Mix the salad with the cucumbers. Toss with the ranch dressing. Stuff the inside of half a pita round with 1 cup of the salad mix and 1/4 of the chicken. Or, if not using split pita, lay half of a pita round on a plate. Top with 1 cup salad mix and 1/4 of the chicken. Enjoy! You can also drizzle a nice spoonful of hummus on top.

Hummus with Homemade Pita Chips

Mundo and I love this recipe. Tahini only comes in a huge jar, so I keep mine frozen and defrost it in the microwave when I want to use it. It will go bad if it's kept in the fridge for too long. You can use store bought pita chips, but it's a lot cheaper to make your own and these sure do taste good! You can make them with wheat pita as well as white. Hummus is usually a great crowd pleaser and would make an excellent dip to serve at a party.

For the Pita Chips:
1 package pita bread
canola oil for drizzling
table salt or sea salt

Cut each pita bread round into four slices across. Then, cut each slice in half (one pita bread round should yield 8 slices). Place in a large bowl. Drizzle with canola oil and toss to coat. Lay in one flat layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes on each side, or until nice and light brown and crispy.

1 can garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas) rinsed and drained
Juice of one lemon
2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste-usually in the peanut butter section)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
salt to taste
olive oil for drizzling
paprika for garnish

Place all ingredients except olive oil and paprika in a food processor. Process for about 30 until ingredients combine. Pour in about 1/4 cup water until a smooth paste forms. It may be slightly chunky. Spoon into a serving dish. Sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with olive oil. Refrigerate before serving. Serve cold with pita chips.

Tabouli (Greek Salad)

This is a very light, healthy salad that would be great served alongside grilled chicken or fish as well as with my chicken pita.

3/4c water
3/4 c bulgur (aka cracked wheat- you can buy it at any whole food stores or in the heath food section at Kroger)
1c minced fresh parsley
1 green onion minced
1/2 cucumber diced
1/4 c diced roasted red bell pepper (jarred bell peppers work great in this)
1 small clove garlic, grated or minced
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
zest from half a lemon
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
freshly ground pepper

In a glass bowl or measuring cup, combine the water with 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp olive oil. Microwave for three minutes. Add the bulgur and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed and the bulgur is tender. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Stir in the bulgur and refrigerate before serving.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Creamy Potato Soup and Green Salad with Sweet Balsalmic Glazed Red Onions

It's been a while since I've posted, as we've been hosting our friends who evacuated due to Gustav. They have 6 beautiful children, who were am
azingly well behaved despite cramped quarters and the craziness of last-minute evacuations. I decided I needed to keep it simple the day after they left, as I was a little tired and not really in the mood to cook for any length of time. This soup recipe, served with a nice green salad and toasty bread, was perfect. It's actually lowfat and only takes about 30 minutes to make, including prep time and cooking time.

2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced (or about 10 baby carrots)
2 tbsp. butter
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 c. chicken broth
3/4 tsp Tony Chacheries cajun seasoning or seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups milk (I used skim and it tasted great)
3/4 cup low fat sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Optional Toppings:
cooked turkey bacon, crumbled
shredded cheddar
finely sliced green onion
sour cream

Sautee onion, celery and carrots in the butter along with the dried thyme, Tony's, garlic powder, pepper and salt. When you begin to see light brown on the bottom of the pan, add the potatoes and chicken broth. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are nice and soft and can easily be mashed with a fork.

Mash vegetables with a potato masher. Add the milk, sour cream, and cheese. Cook, stirring constantly, until sour cream is incorporated and it comes together into a nice, creamy soup.

Sweet Balsalmic Glazed Red Onions

1 large red onion, sliced into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices.
Salt and pepper
olive oil
balsalmic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the onion slices on a cookie sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and balsalmic vinegar. Toss with your hands to make sure they are nicely coated. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving. These taste SO sweet and yummy on a salad. I made a dressing using a store-bought italian dressing packet and added about 1/4 cup extra vinegar, instead of the large amount of oil. (I filled my dressing carafe to the vinegar line with red wine vinegar. Then, I added 1/4 c. balsalmic vinegar, 3 tbsp water, the seasoning packet and oil to the oil line).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dad's Baked Salmon

My dad used to make this salmon pretty often, when I lived at home (wow, I guess that was 7 years ago!). The sauce is SO amazing. It tastes very unique. It's sweet, tangy, garlicky and a little rich from the butter. It reminds me of a New Orleans barbecue shrimp sauce. It's so good you'll want to lick your plate! This recipe makes enough for two small salmon filets (about 3 inches long each). It doubles very easily, if you're planning to serve more people. I bake mine, but you can also cook it on the grill or broil it. I served it with roasted butternut squash, green beans and whole wheat couscous (Far East garlic and olive oil brand is awesome- I like to add nuts of some sort when I stir the couscous into the broth. Cashews, almonds and pine nuts all taste great in this).

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 tbsp mustard
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire
freshly ground pepper
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper
2 salmon filets, about 3-4 inches long each (I'm not sure how many ounces they would be)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the crushed garlic and sautee for one minute (until it doesn't smell raw anymore). Add the rest of the ingredients, except the lemon juice. Allow the sauce to simmer over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes (do not boil!). Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Place the salmon filets in a small baking dish. Pour the sauce over the filets (you don't have to remove the skin, if you don't want to. It will come right off when the salmon is cooked). Bake the salmon for about 15 minutes, or until it flakes easily with a fork. Do not overbake or it will taste like rubber (yes, I've done this before :) ).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chicken Lo Mein (Yes, another pasta dish, but it's fabulous!)

I've been making a lot of pasta dishes lately because I've been watching Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals pretty frequently and she works with pasta often. This dish was inspired by her Chinese Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe. I decided to leave out the meatballs and used sliced chicken instead that I seasoned with garlic powder, ground ginger, salt and pepper and sauteed before I cooked the veggies. You can definitely serve this over brown rice and leave out the noodles, if you're tired of pasta. But, the whole wheat noodles taste great!


1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti
2 large chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
6 green onions sliced on a diagonal
1/3 cup tamari dark soy or regular soy sauce
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 cups snow peas, thinly sliced on an angle
1 red bell pepper, very thinly sliced
2 inches ginger root, grated
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 pound triple washed spinach, leaves stripped of larger stems, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, available on Asian foods aisle of market
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, available on Asian foods aisle of market

Place a pot of water on to boil for spaghetti. When it comes to a boil, salt the water and add pasta to cook to al dente.

Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet. Season the chicken breast with the garlic and ginger powders and the salt and pepper. Add to the oil and sautee over high heat until cooked through and nicely browned. Remove from pan. Pour in the remaining 2 tbsp oil. Add the snow peas, red pepper, remaining cut scallions, ginger and garlic, stir-fry 2 minutes add spinach and chicken and stir until spinach wilts. Add the soy sauce, about 1/3 cup, and the sesame oil. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chicken (or Not) Poblano Casserole

I got this recipe from my Cooking Light magazine collection- I love this magazine! They always have great recipe ideas that are healthy and yummy. I made a few changes to the recipe. I didn't add any cilantro (because it can be so strong and tends to overpower the casserole. However, I've included it before and it tastes great either way.) I substituted cottage cheese for the ricotta, because I've never been a huge fan of the ricotta and the cottage cheese gives the casserole a creamy consistency. It is delicious with fresh corn. You could easily leave out the chicken and make it vegetarian. Here's the original recipe: Chicken Poblano Casserole

3 poblano chiles (about 12 ounces)
1 large red bell pepper (about 8 ounces)
3 ears shucked corn
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
3 cups (12 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, divided
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 (16-ounce) carton lowfat cottage cheese
Cooking spray
18 (6-inch) white corn tortillas
3 3/4 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (optional)
1 cup thinly sliced green onions, divided
Preheat broiler.

Cut poblanos and bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place poblanos and bell pepper, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Place corn on baking sheet. Broil 10 minutes or until poblanos and bell pepper are blackened and corn is lightly browned. Place poblanos and bell pepper in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and coarsely chop; set poblanos and bell pepper aside separately. Remove corn kernels from cobs.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper in a large saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Cook over medium heat until slightly thick (about 12 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Combine 1 cup milk mixture and poblanos in a blender; process until smooth. Stir pureed poblano mixture into remaining milk mixture.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine bell pepper, corn, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup Mexican cheese, red onion, eggs, and cottage cheese.

Coat bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in bottom of dish. Arrange 6 tortillas over sauce, overlapping slightly. Spread half of cottage cheese mixture over tortillas; top with half of chicken. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup green onions and 2/3 cup cheddar cheese. Pour about 1 cup sauce over cheese. Repeat layers with 6 tortillas, remaining cottage cheese mixture, remaining chicken, 1/3 cup green onions, 2/3 cup cheddar cheese, 1 cup sauce, and 6 tortillas. Pour remaining sauce over tortillas. Coat 1 side of foil with cooking spray. Place foil, coated side down, over casserole. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and 1/3 cup green onions. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 15 minutes.


12 servings

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 369(29% from fat); FAT 11.9g (sat 6.1g,mono 2.9g,poly 1.2g); IRON 1.8mg; CHOLESTEROL 98mg; CALCIUM 536mg; CARBOHYDRATE 33.8g; SODIUM 594mg; PROTEIN 33.1g; FIBER 3.6g

Monday, August 18, 2008

One Pot Lasagna with Whole Wheat Rotini

This was dinner tonight. I saw this recipe on a cooking show and adapted it a little. It is definitely a "crowd pleaser"- it makes a ton! The sauce is not a heavy tomato-based sauce, so the pasta tastes different than you would expect. When Mundo saw me making it, he said, "Did you make Hamburger Helper?" You can imagine my reaction to that, "Are you crazy?! When, in our 6 years of marriage, have I ever made Hamburger Helper??" The funny thing is, that's really what this recipe is. This is just a healthier version :).

1 box whole-wheat rotini pasta
salt for boiling pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lbs ground white turkey meat or lean ground beef
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried basil
ground black pepper
1 carrot or about 6 baby carrots finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled in your hand or chopped
1 c. beef broth
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
1 16 oz. container low fat ricotta cheese
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella (low fat mozzarella would work)

Heat olive oil in a large pot/dutch oven. Brown ground meat in olive oil until cooked through and beginning to caramelize. Add the onions, carrots, bay leaf, rosemary, dried basil, pepper and salt. Sautee until onions and carrots are soft (6-8 minutes). Add garlic and sautee 1 minute. Stir in broth and tomatoes. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove bay leaf. Stir in pasta and ricotta. Top with mozzarella. Bake until the cheese begins to brown on top, about 10- 15 minutes.

Low-Fat Pound Cake with Fresh Berries

One night, last week, I had a craving for angel food cake with fresh berries. I had a carton of blueberries in the refrigerator, so they were calling my name. I didn't have a dozen eggs, which you need for angel food cake, so I thought I would try to find a low fat pound cake recipe. I stumbled upon this recipe on Cooking Light's website, Lemon Pound Cake with Mixed Berries.I didn't have any lemons or yogurt, so I altered it just a bit. The end result was a pound cake that tasted just like an angel food cake. It really was quite yummy.

Cooking spray
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup. low-fat sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 8 x 4 inch loaf pan with cooking spray/flour. Cream butter and sugar in a mixer bowl until fluffy. Add egg whites and egg, beating well. Beat in almond and vanilla extract and sour cream. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter/egg mixture and beat well. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes (this will release it from the pan- I learned this lesson the hard way). Top with berries coated in a little sugar and a spoonful of whipped cream. So yummy and light!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Whole Wheat Ginger Snaps

I halved this recipe when I made it and it made about 16 nice size cookies. They spread a lot when you bake them, so make sure you spread out the balls of dough on the cookie sheet. You can't even tell that they are made with whole wheat flour!

3/4 c. butter
1 c. organic sugar (evaporated cane juice solids- it's unrefined)
1 egg
1/4 c. molasses
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. white wheat or unbleached all purpose flour
dash salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 1/2 tsp ginger
More organic sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and molasses and beat well. Combine the flours, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. (or do what I do- turn off the mixer, pour in all of the dry ingredients and turn back on! My cookies seem to come out just fine using this method!) Gradually add to the mixture in the mixer. Scoop dough into teaspoon size balls. Dip the top of the balls into sugar. Place on cookie sheet, spread apart so they have room to grow.

Bake 8-10 minutes, depending on desired crispiness of cookies. Mine were thin, yet chewy. They are SO tempting and yummy to snack on!

Simple, Healthy Sides- Okra and Tomatoes and Green Beans with Turkey Bacon

I made these two side dishes this week after a trip to our local Agricenter produce market. They had really fresh okra, heirloom tomatoes and green beans, so I was inspired to make these recipes. The okra and tomatoes I served alongside grilled chicken breast, sauteed corn that I cut off the cob and seasoned with salt, pepper and butter and brown rice pilaf seasoned with sauteed onions, garlic, parsley and chicken broth. I served the green beans with mashed potatoes (I also bought my potatoes at the produce market and they were AWESOME) and steaks that I seasoned with salt pepper and grill seasoning and grilled outside. Yummy dinners!

Southern Okra and Tomatoes
3 cups sliced okra
1 tbsp salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion diced
1 small bell pepper diced
1 large tomato or 2 medium tomatoes diced
1 garlic clove minced
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper

Boil the sliced okra in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

Sautee the onion and bell pepper in oil until tender. Add the garlic. Sautee for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add the okra and season with salt, pepper, flour, butter and sugar (you could also season with cajun seasoning for a little kick). Simmer for 10 minutes and serve.

My Green Beans with Bacon
3 cups fresh green beans, stems removed
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 slices turkey bacon (or you can use regular bacon if you wish)
1 tbsp water (or more if needed, to deglaze the pan)
salt and pepper to taste

Steam green beans in a steamer basket or in a saucepan with a small amount of water at the bottom (you have to use a lid). Drain and set aside. Sautee the onion in the butter and olive oil until tender and just beginning to brown. Add the bacon. Sautee until it begins to brown. Add the garlic and cook about a minute longer. Stir in the green beans and the water, scrapping off the the browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Homemade Pizza Dough

Pizzas appear about every 2-3 weeks on our menu. I love to vary the toppings. My favorites are: supreme with turkey pepperoni, bellpeppers, onions, olives, mushrooms and jarred marinara sauce, buffalo chicken pizza with buffalo wing sauce, sliced chicken breast, onions, and lowfat cheddar and barbecue chicken with barbecue sauce, onions, chicken and lowfat cheddar. For a healthy version, use half whole wheat flour and limit the amount of cheese you put on top.

1 cup warm water ( or 1 1/2 cups if making wheat crust)
1 package quick rise yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3 tbsp olive oil
2.5 to 3.5 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour (or 1 cup whole wheat and the rest white)
cornmeal for dusting pizza pans

If making by hand in a regular bowl: Dissolve yeast in water. Add salt and olive oil. Stir in flour until a nice ball of dough forms. Knead on the counter until the dough is nice and smooth. Allow to rise for 30 minutes. Sprinkle pizza pans with cornmeal. Shape into crust and bake.

If making in KitchenAid mixer (my favorite way, of course :) ): Dissolve yeast in mixer bowl. Add salt, olive oil and 2 cups of flour. Turn on mixer with dough hook attachment to speed 2. Add more flour until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl and makes a nice ball. Allow it to continue kneading for 3 minutes. Grease the mixer bowl with cooking spray and allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes. Sprinkle pizza pans with cornmeal. Shape dough into pizza crust.

*For either method, remember that you can heat your oven for 1 minute on the lowest temperature setting, then turn it off and put the bowl of dough in the oven to rise. Usually guarantees a good rise.

My Abuelita's Black Beans and Rice

When I make these in my pressure cooker I don't soak the beans. However, they can be made on the stove the regular way by soaking the beans over night or quick soaking them in hot water for an hour or so before cooking. These are a family favorite that we serve every Christmas Eve as a Cuban tradition. I served them over brown rice (now that's some serious fiber, baby!) with sauteed plantains (maduros- the sweet version, when the skin is nice and yellow with brown spots) and a nice salad. It was a great vegetarian meal!

One 1 lb bag of black beans, rinsed (soaked if cooking the regular way on the stove)
8 cups of water
1 1/2 green bell peppers cut into large pieces
1 large onion cut into large pieces
4 cloves minced garlic
1 bay leaf
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
1 small can tomato sauce

Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot or pressure cooker. If cooking in a large pot, simmer for about 3-4 hours, until the beans are nice and tender, stirring periodically. If cooking in a pressure cooker, bring up to high pressure and cook 45 minutes.

Once beans are cooked, add:
2 tsp vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
2 tbsp sherry or cooking wine
2 tbsp olive oil

Remove the pieces of bellpepper and onion with about 1/2 cup of the beans and place in a blender. Puree. Pour back into the beans. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Serve over rice or with flour tortillas and sour cream.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Homemade Bagels

Yes, people, I actually made my first batch of homemade bagels today! They came out SO good, too! I am extremely proud of myself. I love to experiment with baking new things, but there is never a guarantee that my bread/rolls/bagels :) will come out even remotely correct. The bagel experiment, however, was a smashing success! (Yes, I have a lot of time on my hands). The next time I make them, I'm going to try using half whole wheat flour. I sprinkled sesame seeds on top of this batch. I think breakfast bagels with eggs, cheese and ham will be on the menu tomorrow morning!

1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp white sugar
3 c. bread flour (I used all purpose and they came out just fine)
1 package fast rising or regular yeast
3 quarts boiling water
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cornmeal
1 egg white
poppy seeds, salt, dried onions, sesame seeds, etc. for toppings

Make dough using a bread maker on the dough setting, by hand, or using a kitchenaid mixer. For the mixer version, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Add the salt, sugar and flour. Using the bread hook attachment on speed 2, combine the ingredients until it makes a ball of dough. Continue mixing for about 3 minutes, in order to knead the dough. Allow dough to rise in a warm, dry place for 30 minutes (or preheat your oven for 1 minute on the lowest setting, then turn it off and place the bowl in the oven. Fool proof way to help dough rise).

Cut dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into a small ball. Flatten balls. Poke a hole in the middle of each with your thumb. Twirl the dough on your finger or thumb to enlarge the hole, and to even out the dough around the hole. Cover bagels with a kitchen towel and leave them on your counter for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, sprinkle a large, ungreased baking sheet with cornmeal. Carefully transfer bagels to boiling water (I boiled 4 at a time). Boil for 1 minute on each side, them remove to a paper towel for a second and transfer to the baking sheet. Glaze tops with egg white and sprinkle with toppings.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Light and Easy Vegetarian Tomato Basil Pasta

This was dinner tonight. It only took me about 20 minutes to make it from start to finish. It was so fresh tasting. The agricenter produce market has beautiful tomatoes that would work great in this dish. Unfortunately, I was only able to make it to Kroger today, so we had to live with slightly ripe roma tomatoes. I served it with an italian salad made of: romaine lettuce, black olives, tomatoes, and cucumbers dressed with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano (dash) and parmesan. It was yummy!

4 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tbsp dried basil
dash of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
8 roma tomatoes, diced
4 tbsp water
1/2 box whole wheat angel hair pasta
Grated parmesan and mozzerella to taste

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onion until tender. Add the garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes and saute until the garlic becomes fragrant and tender (about 2 minutes). Add the tomatoes and the water and season generously with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer about 10 minutes until the tomatoes release their juices and a nice sauce develops. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Stir into the sauce. Top with grated parmesan and mozzarella, if desired.

*You could also add diced zucchini or eggplant when you add the tomatoes. Italian chicken sausage would be a nice addition if you didn't want it to be vegetarian.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Skinny White Chicken Lasagna

I modified this recipe that I originally saw on Rachael Ray's website. It makes a TON of lasagna, so it would be great for entertaining. Mundo really liked it!

2 tbsp olive oil
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked and shredded
1 lb sliced button mushrooms
2 medium sliced zuchini
salt and pepper
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
2 c. skim milk
2 c. chicken broth
1 box whole wheat lasagna or oven-ready white lasagna
2 1/2 cups shredded lowfat mozzarella
1 small container low fat cottage cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shrooms and sautee. Once they begin to turn golden brown, add the zuchini and garlic and sautee until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the shredded chicken. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir for one minute until it bubbles (you don't want a brown roux, just cook long enough to get rid of the raw flour taste). Add the milk and chicken broth and season with salt and pepper. Bring up to a bubble, stirring constantly. Then, simmer 4-5 minutes, until the sauce thickens.

Assemble the lasagna by ladling a small amount (about 1/2 cup) of sauce on the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover with three noodles. Top with 1/3 of the chicken veggie mixture, 1/3 of the cottage cheese and about 1/2 cup of cheese. Pour 1 cup of sauce over the layer. Then, add two more layers. Top off the lasagna with the last three noodles, the remaining sauce and the remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly. Serve with a fresh dinner salad and whole wheat french bread and you have a perfect weeknight dinner!

Homemade Granola

Although the first recipe I posted was quite contrary to healthy eating habits, Mundo and I generally like to stick with a pretty healthy diet. This granola is a great snack and tastes awesome with yogurt. You can experiment with different dried nuts and fruits.

3 cups oatmeal
1/2 c. chopped almonds
1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
1/8 c. whole flax seed
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. pineapple or apple juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp olive oil
cooking spray
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. chopped dried apricots
1/4 c. raisins.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine the oatmeal, nuts and flax seed in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, wisk together the brown sugar, salt, syrup, honey, juice, almond extract, cinnamon and 1 tbsp olive oil. Pour over the oatmeal mixture and stir to combine. Spray the bottom of a large jelly roll pan with cooking spray. Spread the mixture evenly on the bottom of the pan. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in the dried fruit. Allow to cool. Smell your house- it smells yummy :)

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

We had an amazing weekend in church life with Christine Caine from Hillsong Church Australia. I was asked to make something for our green room and decided that these cinnamon rolls would be a nice treat. You can make them a little healthier by adding 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 white flour and by using lowfat butter for the filling. Man are these good!

*I make the dough in my KitchenAid mixer so I don't have to knead it by hand.


  • 3/4 c. low-fat milk
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 2 packages yeast (I use quick rise)
  • 1/3 c. warm water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 box instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Combine milk, butter, salt and sugar in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave until the butter is melted. Beat the eggs and pour in a little of the milk mixture to temper the eggs. Pour the egg mixture into the milk mixture. Dissolve the yeast in the water in the mixer bowl. Add the milk/egg mixture. Add 5 cups of flour and the pudding mix. Begin mixing the dough on speed 2 with the dough hook (or mix by hand). Gradually add more flour until the dough cleans the bowl. Beat for 4 minutes longer, or knead by hand until the dough is nice and smooth (baby's bottom :) ). Using a non-stick spray, grease the mixer bowl to make sure the dough won't stick while rising. Allow to rise in a warm, dry place until doubled in size (about 30 minutes for quick rise).


  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • 1/2 c. raisins (optional)

Roll dough out to make a 10 x 24" rectangle. Combine all of the filling ingredients and spread evenly over the rectangle of dough (make sure you go to the edges so it's completely covered). Roll up the dough from the wide (24" side). Cut into 24 one inch rolls and place in two greased 13 x 9 inch baking dishes. Cover with a towel and allow to rise until doubled in size. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until light brown around the edges.

Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 tsp. milk

Combine all ingredients and beat in the mixer with the wisk attachment until light and fluffy. You can use a hand-held mixer as well. Spread over the warm rolls. Wow, they are SO good!!