Thursday, April 23, 2009

Amazing Lightened Up Fudge Brownies

You will NEVER believe that any of the fat has been lessened in these brownies. They are so moist and chocolaty. We eat them warm with a scoop of low fat vanilla ice cream.

3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp canola oil
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tbsp cold brewed coffee
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips, butter and canola oil. Microwave for one minute, or until chocolate is melted. Stir in the sugars, vanilla, salt, eggs and coffee. Combine the cocoa powder, flours and baking soda. Stir into wet ingredients, until just combined. Fold in the nuts. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sneaky Whole Wheat Mac and Cheese with Teriyaki Chicken and Sauteed Carrots and Green Beans

I call the mac and cheese "sneaky" because it is lower in fat and contains one 10 oz package of butternut squash. You will NEVER be able to tell it's in there! It came out so creamy and delicious, yet it was lightened up from a traditional mac and cheese and made with whole wheat pasta. The chicken and veggies are so easy to make. This is a great meal that any kid would love! For my toddler, I placed the chicken and veggies in my mini food processor and pulsed it just until it was chopped (still quite chunky). Then, I stirred in a generous spoonful of the mac and cheese and it became chicken and veggie mac and cheese. He loved it!

4 FROZEN chicken breasts (or one breast per person)
bottled Veri Veri Teriyaki marinade, found in the asian food section of most grocery stores. It's a very simple, natural marinade that tastes AMAZING on salmon and chicken.
3 large organic carrots, peeled and sliced into sticks
2 cups whole green beans, rinsed and snipped of any stems
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 12 oz box whole wheat elbow macaroni
1/3 cup flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 1/4 cup skim milk or 1 % (I only buy skim, so sometimes I add a little half and half to bump up the fat content if needed for a sauce)
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dried mustard powder
1 10 oz bag of frozen butternut squash, thawed and mashed with a fork
4 oz shredded swiss cheese
6 oz 2% milk reduced fat cheddar (3/4 of a bar of cheese)
2 oz 2% milk reduced fat cheddar, reserved for topping
1/2 cup freshly toasted breadcrumbs, or store bought

For the chicken:
Place frozen chicken in a baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Pour a generous amount of the marinade over the chicken, turning it over to coat both sides. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Flip over the chicken breasts. Bake 20 minutes longer. Turn on the broiler setting in the oven. Broil chicken for 5 minutes, or until nicely browned on the top side.

For the veggies:
Place carrots in a 10 inch frying pan. Add the water. Simmer for 6 minutes. Add the green beans and cover. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove lid and allow the rest of the water to evaporate. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and add 1 tbsp butter. Sautee until the carrots just begin to brown. Serves 4

For the mac and cheese:
Cook pasta according to package directions. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add the flour. Stir to form a smooth paste and cook about 1 minute. Add the milk, 3/4 tsp salt, pepper and mustard. Cook until thickened. Stir in the swiss cheese, 6 oz shredded lowfat cheddar cheese and squash. Stir until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat. Drain cooked pasta and place back into the pot you cooked it in. Pour the sauce over the pasta. Stir well. Pour into a greased 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 minutes longer. Serves 8

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Broiled Cilantro Lime Chicken with Mexican Style Brown Rice, Fresh Avocado Salsa and Baked Plantain Chips

This is a meal I put together for dinner this week. The chicken is full of flavor, but it's not spicy. So, it's a meal that kids should love! Growing up with a Cuban dad, I've learned to love plantains. They are usually fried, but this method makes them much lighter by baking them. They make great chips to serve with the rest of the salsa.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
juice and zest of 1 lime
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 fresh garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 ripe avocados, diced
1 ripe tomato (1 cup)
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1/4 cup diced red or green onion
1/8 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
sprinkle of black pepper

1 cup brown rice
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 of one cube Caldo de Pollo mexican chicken boullion cube (found in the mexican section of the grocery store)
water to make 2 cups when combined with the tomatoes

Baked Plantain chips:
1 green plantain, sliced into thin slices lengthwise into strips or into rings
1 tbsp canola oil
kosher salt

For the chicken, combine all of the ingredients. Place in a Ziploc bag and marinate for one hour or overnight.

For the salsa, combine all of the salsa ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the rice, heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and sautee about 4 minutes, until tender and translucent. Add the rice. Cook 4 more minutes, stirring every minute. Add the garlic clove. Sautee one minute. Combine the tomatoes and boullion cube in a measuring cup. Add water to make 2 cups. Pour over the rice. Stir once. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook 50 minutes.

For the plantain chips, drizzle with one tbsp canola oil. Toss to coat. Place in an even layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Flip over the pieces and bake about 5 minutes more, until golden on the second side. Place in a serving bowl or on a serving tray.

When the rice has 20 minutes left, cook the chicken. Preheat the broiler in the oven. Spray a baking sheet or broiler pan with cooking spray. Broil the chicken for 6 minutes, then flip over and broil for 6 minutes on the other side, or until completely cooked through. Serve chicken topped with a spoonful of the avocado salsa, a handful of plantain chips and a side of rice. Serves 4.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

I LOVE eggplant parmesan, but the traditional method involves browning the eggplant in oil, so it's very fattening and time consuming. In this recipe I created, the eggplant is breaded in whole wheat bread crumbs and baked on a cooling rack to make it extra crunchy. You can use the same recipe for chicken to make chicken parmesan. I've also used it for sliced zucchini. They are like little zucchini chips that you can dip in marinara sauce or ketchup. Even my one-year-old baby, Eli, LOVES these!

3 slices of whole wheat bread (the end pieces work great!)
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
freshly ground pepper
1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 egg white, beaten with 1/4 cup fat free milk
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Additional kosher salt and pepper
Shredded mozzarella
Cooked whole wheat spaghetti
1 jar marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the bread into a food processor. Pulse until small crumbs form. Pour crumbs onto a baking sheet. Drizzle one tbsp of olive oil over the bread crumbs. Toss to coat. Spread into an even layer. Bake for about 6-8 minutes, until bread crumbs are nicely toasted. They will smell fragrant. Watch them closely-they burn easily!! Pour toasted crumbs into a bowl. Turn the heat up to 450 degrees. Add the Parmesan, chopped parsley, 1/4 tsp kosher salt and sprinkle with fresh black pepper. Toss together. Combine the flour, 1/4 tsp kosher salt and a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper. Place a cooling rack (used to cool off cookies after they bake) inside a baking sheet. Spray it with cooking spray. Season the eggplant pieces with the additional salt and pepper. Place in the flour, tossing them around to coat. Shake off excess flour. Place in the egg and milk mixture, then directly into the bread crumb mixture. Press the crumbs onto the eggplant pieces, making sure they stick well. Place eggplant on the cooling rack, inside the baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes, until they are nice and crispy and tender when poked with a fork. Sprinkle mozzarella over the cooked eggplant. Return to the oven for 1-2 minutes, until cheese melts and is lightly browned. Serve with whole wheat spaghetti and bottled marinara sauce.

Whole Wheat Penne with Roasted Spring Veggies

I based this dish on a recipe I found online. Mundo loved it! It's a great way to take advantage of the veggies that are available this spring. The pasta is simple, yet it tastes like it took a long time to make. I made it in under 30 minutes from start to finish.

1 large red bell pepper, halved and pressed down with your hand to flatten it
1 zucchini, sliced length wise into 1/4 inch strips
2 portobello mushroom caps
1/2 a bunch of asparagus, ends snapped off
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided
3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp ground pepper
8 oz whole wheat penne, cooked according to package directions- reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan (pre-shredded is available with the rest of the shredded cheese)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lay prepped veggies on a cooking sheet (bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, asparagas). Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Toss to coat and then lay them flat on the cookie sheet. Place the mushrooms gill side up and drizzle the inside of each with 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Bake for 8 minutes, then remove the asparagus. Flip over the rest of the veggies and cook about 4 minutes longer, until the zucchini begins to caramelize on the second side. Slice the bell peppers into strips about one inch wide. Cut into squares. Slice the zucchini strips into one inch pieces. Cut the mushrooms into 1/4 inch slices and then cut down the middle, halving the slices. Cut each piece of asparagus into three pieces. Place all of the veggies in a large bowl. Add the freshly cooked pasta with the reserved cooking liquid. Heat the garlic in a small frying pan in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Pour over the pasta. Add the lemon zest, basil, 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper and 1/4 teaspon kosher salt (more if needed) and the parmesan cheese. Toss together and serve. Serves 6.

Lightened Up Butterscotch Praline Bars

I found this recipe in my Cooking Light April issue (2009, pg. 150). I added my own twist by sprinkling unsweetened coconut on top. They are rich and delicious. Your family will love to snack on these! They contain about 5 grams of fat per serving.

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups quick-cooking oats
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
cooking spray
1/3 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup butterscotch morsels (found in the baking section with the chocolate chips)
dash of salt
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
unsweetened coconut for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the sugar, butter, vanilla and egg in a large bowl. On top, spoon in the flour, outs, 1/4 tsp salt and baking soda. Combine until a crumbly mixture forms (it helps to use a fork or your hands). Place 1/2 of the mixture in the bottom of a greased 8 x 8 inch square baking pan. Press to form a crust. In another bowl, combine the chips, sweetened condensed milk and dash of salt. Microwave for 1 minute, stirring once, or until chips are melted. Stir in walnuts. Pour mixture over the crust and spread to form an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top, gently pressing it into the melted chips. Sprinkle coconut on top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cut into 18 bars. Serves 18.