Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Low Fat Scalloped Potatoes

I've always loved scalloped potatoes, but considered them a treat rather than a side dish we could eat on a regular basis. However, this recipe completely revolutionized my concept of scalloped potatoes! It's based off of a Cooking Light recipe that I simplified to make it more everyday-friendly. These potatoes taste cream and will never guess they're low fat!

Low Fat Scalloped Potatoes
6 red potatoes or three large russet potatoes peeled and very thinly sliced
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (or a little more if needed :) )
2 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place half of the sliced potatoes into the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the salt and half of the cheese. Top with freshly grated pepper. Drizzle 1 tbsp butter over the top. Layer the rest of the potatoes and top with the rest of the cheese, salt, pepper and butter. Sprinkle the cheddar over the top. Pour the milk over the top of the potatoes. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until nicely browned on top.

Whole Wheat Tortillas

My parents live in The Woodlands, TX, where they have an incredible grocery store chain called H.E.B. The initials stand for Here Everything's Better, and I have to say that I completely agree. It is a fantastic grocery store. One of our favorite treats we always purchase there are their freshly made whole wheat tortillas. They literally are warm when you purchase them- and they melt in your mouth! This recipe came about as an attempt to find a whole wheat tortilla recipe that could compare with those H.E.B. jewels that I love so much. I was making breakfast burritos for 50 people and thought a homemade tortilla would be yummy. Before I made a huge batch, I wanted to test several recipes to see which one I liked the best. Some recipes had too much oil and some had too little oil. I also found that I preferred the flavor that butter gave to the tortillas vs. oil. However, if you are trying to avoid saturated fat or are a vegan, oil works perfectly fine. This recipe is simple and yields 10-12 tortillas, depending on how big you want them to be. It only takes 30 minutes to make a batch, so they really aren't too time consuming. Trust will not regret making these!!

Whole Wheat Tortillas
2 cups white whole wheat flour (I haven't tried substituting plain whole wheat flour...but I can imagine you'd probably have to add a touch more water)
5 tbsp melted butter or oil, or a combination
1 tsp salt (I use finely ground sea salt)
3/4 cup warm water

In a bowl or stand mixer bowl, combine the melted butter or oil with the flour and salt. Mix until a sandy mixture forms. Pour in the water and mix until a slightly sticky dough forms. If dough is dry, add more water. It should be sticky to the touch and cling a bit to the sides of the bowl. Form a log 10 inches long for 10 larger tortillas or 12 inches long for 12 smaller (taco size) tortillas. Wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to sit on the counter for 15 minutes.

Cut log into 10 or 12 equal pieces. I always divide it in half first, then cut each half into equal size pieces. Heat a cast iron skillet or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pull off one of the pieces of dough and roll into a thin, flat circle, making sure to use a dusted surface and rolling pin as the dough is sticky. Place dough in the preheated pan and cook about 30 seconds on one side, until it is very light brown and starts to slightly bubble. Flip over and cook a few more seconds on the other- until light brown on the other side (about 30 seconds but possibly less depending on how hot your pan is). I usually place one in the pan, roll out another one, then flip the one that I'm cooking. The timing is perfect and usually makes the process really quick.

Serve tortillas immediately, or store in a plastic zip-top bag in the refrigerator. I've kept them for a week without any problems. Reheat in the microwave or toaster oven, or make a really yummy quesadilla!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mom's Shrimp Creole

This is a dish I grew up eating and always loved. I will admit that, when I was little, I'd pick out the shrimp and eat only the sauce. However, my taste buds have changed quite a bit (as my mom ALWAYS used to tell us they would!) The beauty of this dish is that it is SO full of flavor, yet it's pretty simple. It does involve making a roux, but I think it's the perfect place to start if you've never made a roux before, since it's a light roux, as opposed to a time-consuming, labor-of-love dark roux. My mom grew up in Alabama, so she has a great repertoire of southern recipes and this is one that we always looked forward to eating. It's great served over a big bowl of rice with fresh french bread and a salad.
3 lbs raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp vegetable oil (typically, you would use 1/4 cup, but I've found that you can cut back on the fat without a problem)
1/4 cup flour
1 cup diced onion
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt (or creole seasoning)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp Tabasco
2 tbsp chopped green onions

Heat oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Add the flour and stir continuously until it reaches a light, golden brown color. It should smell nutty. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic and celery. Cook until tender. Add all remaining ingredients, except shrimp and green onions. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will be pretty thick. Add shrimp and cook an additional 15 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through and sauce has thickened back up (the liquid from the shrimp thins it a touch at first). Serve over rice. Serves 4 (generous size portions or 6 smaller portions)

Vegetarian Chili

At the beginning of the year, our church spends three weeks fasting. My husband and I usually do a Daniel fast, taken from the book of Daniel in the Bible. It consists of eating only fruits, veggies and whole grains. Thus, I'm often on the hunt for vegetarian/meatless recipes. The beauty of this dish is it is extremely kid-friendly. I topped our kids' bowls with a generous amount of sour cream, cheddar and organic blue corn chips and they went to town :). I think we'll be eating it year-round!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups white onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 poblano chilies, seeded and diced
2 heaping tsp chili powder
1 heaping tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1 can chili ready tomatoes or diced tomatoes
2 cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can hominy rinsed and drained
Cooked brown rice

crushed tortilla chips
sour cream
shredded cheddar
sliced green onions
Chalula sauce

Saute the onion and poblano peppers in olive oil for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the garlic, spices, salt and pepper and saute another 2-3 minutes. Place 1/2 cup of the great northern beans in a bowl and mash. Add the rest of the soup ingredients, including mashed beans, to the pot. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Ladle over a spoonful of brown rice and top with desired toppings.