Monday, January 14, 2019

(The Best Ever) Chicken and Dumplings



Could there be a more perfect comfort food, particularly for these cold weather days, than chicken and dumplings? It's not something I make often since I try to limit carbs and fats. If I do make it, I tend to use a lightened recipe. This time, though, I was looking for the "full Monty" and this recipe, with some slight modifications, delivered.

 I had bought the November issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine and tore this recipe out. I will say I was surprised that it was a poorly written recipe, missing steps and without the usual fine detail of a Martha Stewart recipe. A staff member's name was on it. Below is my version, edited a bit for clarity, but without much change to the ingredients. (OK, I used just a tad less fat and added the parsnips.) I recommend reading through the recipe first so you can do all the chopping at once.

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 - 3 lbs bone in, chicken thighs
4 cups water
2 tsp Kosher salt

For the broth:
3 tbs butter
1 medium diced onion
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
8 oz red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup flour
1 cup frozen sweet peas
3 tbs chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste


For the dumplings:
1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbs chopped parsley
2 tsp baking powder
4 tbs cold butter
3/4 cup milk


MAKE THE BROTH AND COOK THE CHICKEN

Combine the chicken thighs, the water, and the Kosher salt in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, until chicken is cooked--20-30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate, let cool, then discard skin and bones and shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Strain the broth. You should have 4 cups; if not, add more water.

MAKE THE ROUX

Melt 4 tbs of butter in the Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, parsnips, potatoes, and thyme. Cook, stirring, until onion is translucent, 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle with the 1/4 cup of flour and cook about 1 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in the reserved 4 cups of strained broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in chicken, peas, parsley, and season with salt and pepper.

MAKE THE DUMPLINGS

While the veggies simmer, whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, and parsley. Cut in 4 tbs cold butter. Stir in the milk until the dough holds together. Drop 8 heaping spoonsful of dough on top of the chicken and veggies mixture. Cover and simmer until dumplings are cooked through, 12-15 minutes.
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TASTE NOTES

It's a good thing there's a bit of prep involved in this dish, or I'd be making it much more often. At 15-18 Smart Points a srving (that's Weight Watcher talk), it's very close to my daily allocation. But, oh, my, was it ever worth it! The carrots and parsnips rendered a sweet, flavorful broth. The dumpling was swoon worthy. Somewhere between a stew and a soup, this chicken and dumplings is love in a bowl. The entire dish was like being wrapped in a big, fluffy blanket. It was well worth the bit of effort.





Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Broccoli and Cauliflower Cakes



On a recent episode of The Kitchen, actor Teri Hatcher shared her recipe for broccoli-cauliflower cakes. They sounded good, so I decided to make them as a side dish with center cut pork chops.

Ingredients - Makes 12 small (2") cakes

1 cup grated broccoli florets
1 cup grated cauliflower florets
1/4 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
OPTIONAL:  2 tbs capers

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Use a box grater or a food processor (I used the latter), to grate the broccoli and the cauliflower, making sure to get 1 cup of each.

Beat the 2 eggs.

Combine the grated broccoli and cauliflower, grated cheese, breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, and salt and pepper with your hands until it is moist.

Divide the mixture into 12 parts and shape 12 patties, about 2 inches across each.

Place the cakes on the cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes, turn, and bake 15 minutes more on the other side.

Serve as a side dish. I combined several tablespoons of light sour cream with sirracha sauce and put a dab on each cake.

1 SP per cake.

TASTE NOTES

I liked the texture and taste of these cakes. The inside was reminiscent of the inside of a potato pancake. The outside achieved a small degree of crispness (I'll try these in the air fryer next time). I enjoyed 3 with my pork chop for a satisfying meal.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

(Middle of the) Cinnamon Roll Muffins



Do you swoon when you get within 100 yards of a Cinnabon? Does the combination of butter and cinnamon loosen your inhibitions? Well, then have I got a muffin for you. These "middle of the cinnamon roll muffins" are easily as good as that yeasty confection that we find so addicting. That they require no yeast or rising just means you can start eating them faster. This recipe is originally from Framed Cooks and was posted on the blog Fantastical Sharing of Recipes.

Makes 12 muffins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place paper liners in each cup of a 12 cup muffin tin.

For the cinnamon topping:


1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tbs finely chopped pecans
1 heaping tsp of cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

For the muffins:


1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk

In a stand mixer, beat the butter for 30 seconds on high until fluffy.

  • Lower speed to medium and add sugar. Beat for 2 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.
  • Add egg and beat until combined.
  • Add vanilla and beat until just combined.
In a medium bow whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Alternate adding flour mixture and milk on low speed (1/3 flour, 1/2 milk; 1/3 flour, 1/2 milk; 1/3 flour
Spoon 1 tbs batter into each cup of a 12-muffin pan lined with paper liners.

  • Top each cup with a heaping tsp of the cinnamon topping.
  • Divide remaining batter among cups.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon topping.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.


For the glaze:


1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tbs milk

Mix together glaze ingredients in a small bowl.
Cool muffins in the muffin pan for 12 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Drizzle warm muffins with the glaze.

Try not to gobble these all up at one sitting.
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TASTE NOTES

I was skeptical about the claim that these muffins tasted like the middle of my beloved cinnamon buns. Let me tell you:  they do! The ease of preparation is, of course, one reason I love these. But it's the taste that will inspire me to make them again and again.




Thursday, November 15, 2018

Spicy and Sweet Pecans (AKA "Crack Nuts")




SPICY AND SWEET PECANS

Servings: Makes 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 15 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup Confectioners sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups pecans

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners sugar, kosher salt, cayenne pepper and 4 teaspoons of water.

Add the pecans to the sugar mixture and stir until the nuts are evenly coated.

Transfer the pecans to the prepared baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Do your best to make sure the nuts are evenly spread out (if they are clumped together, they won't cook evenly). Scrape out every last bit of glaze from the bowl and drizzle over the nuts.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the pecans are crusty on top and caramelized and golden on the bottom.

 Immediately slide the parchment off of the hot baking sheet and allow the pecans to cool completely on the countertop.

Once cool, remove the pecans from the parchment, breaking apart any clusters if necessary, and store in an airtight container.

NOTE: : Make sure you're using parchment paper and not wax paper (wax paper is not nonstick). If the nuts are sticky after cooling, that means they are a bit undercooked. Pop them back in the oven for a few minutes and let cool again.
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TASTE NOTES
I've made candied nuts before and enjoyed them, but these nuts are for grown ups. You might want to make 2 batches, one to eat yourself and one to serve. They aren't nicknamed "crack nuts" for nothing.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Taco Casserole



Just because I no longer work doesn't mean I want to spend hours in the kitchen during the week.  I saw this recipe in the magazine section of a local newspaper and decided I could work with it since it featured the Mexican flavor profile we both love.


Quick Fix Taco Casserole
6 serving (9SP per serving)

2 cups cooked brown rice (I used a packet of Sazon in preparing this)
1- 15 oz can fat free refried beans
1 cup salsa
1 1/4 lbs lean ground beef
1 pkg low sodium taco seasoning
3/4 cup reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 oz corn chips, crumbled
1 (2.25 oz) can sliced, black olives
3-4 sliced scallions
OPTIONAL: serve with sliced avocado and sour cream (adds additional calories/SP's)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In an 8-inch square baking dish, layer 2 cups of cooked rice. In a nonstick skillet, brown the ground beef. Add the taco seasoning and 3 tbs water and combine well.  In a large, microwavable bowl, combine the beans and salsa. Heat, stir, and pour over the rice. Sprinkle the cheese over the beef, scatter the crumbled corn chips over the cheese, then scatter the drained olives on top of the cheese.

Bake about 20 minutes (until piping hot). Top with the sliced scallions and, if desired, sliced avocado and a dollop of sour cream.
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TASTE NOTES
While each serving contains 9 Smart Points (more if you top with avocado and sour cream), the serving is so filling and contains protein, carbs, and veggies, so little more than a side salad is required to round out the meal. My younger self used to turn up her nose at casseroles, but this dish, though not photogenic, was delicious. I'm looking forward to leftovers and have added it to this blog, which these days is a repository for my favorite meals.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Cheesy Bacon Chicken with Honey Mustard Drizzle (a la Alice Springs Chicken)


I've never eaten the Alice Springs chicken entree at Outback, but I've seen it plenty of times and, if it's half as good as this low fat version, I would order it in a heartbeat. This recipe is taken from Marlene Koch's EAT WHAT YOU LOVE: QUICK AND EASY cookbook. It's about the 10th recipe I've tried from this book, and the winning streak continues. Dinner was on the table in about 20 minutes and it was hard not to eat a second portion.

Serves 4, 5 SP per serving

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tbs light mayonnaise
1 tbs honey
2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp butter
1 (8 oz) package sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup shredded, reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
8 tsp real bacon bits
3 scallions, sliced

Cover the chicken breasts with plastic wrap and gently pound to a 1/4 inch thickness.

Prepare the honey mustard drizzle by whisking together the mustard, mayonnaise, honey, and vinegar. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender and browned (8-10 minutes). Remove from the pan and set aside.

Coat the same skillet with nonstick cooking spray and return the heat to medium high. Add the chicken and cook for about 3 minutes or until the underside is brown. Turn chicken over and remove pan from the heat while you top each piece with 3 tbs. cheese and 2 tsp. of bacon bits. Return pan to heat, add 2 tbs water and immediately cover pan. Cook for 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and chicken cooked through.

To serve, top each breast with scallions and drizzle with a tablespoon of the honey mustard sauce.
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TASTE NOTES
This dish was amazingly good for the scant amount of fat. The chicken was juicy and the honey drizzle is my new favorite thing. I will increase the amount of mushrooms next time and serve it over some sauteed spinach.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Frosted Pumpkin Bars



With the temperature hovering below 60 degrees today,  I'm beginning to think fall is really on the way. While I'm not a pumpkin spice fanatic--not for coffee or ice cream in any event-I do like spice cake and pumpkin pie. I found this recipe on Marlene Koch's website and thought a 2 Smart Point dessert (75 calories) sounded like a good deal.

COOKIE BAR INGREDIENTS - 24 servings
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
11/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon mace
6 tablespoons margarine, softened
1  2 1/2-ounce container baby food prunes (or prunes and apples blend)
1  15-ounce can 100 % pure packed pumpkin (like Libby’s)
2/3 cup no-calorie granulated sweetener*
2  tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1  egg
¼ cup raisins, finely chopped

FROSTING INGREDIENTS

4   ounces tub-style light cream cheese
6   ounces nonfat cream cheese
¼ cup no-calorie granulated sweetener*
2   tablespoons orange juice

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch pan with nonstick baking spray.

2. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices, set aside. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream the margarine and prunes together. Add pumpkin purée, sweetener, molasses, vanilla, and egg. Beat well. Stir in flour mixture. Stir in raisins.

3. Spoon into prepared pan and smooth. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched in the center. Cool on rack.

4. In a small bowl, with an electric mixer, beat all frosting ingredients until smooth and fluffy. Spread frosting onto cool bars. Refrigerate.

*To use a baking blend, like all-natural Truvia for Baking, use 1/2 the listed measurement.



Nutrition Information Per Serving: (1 bar)   Calories 75 | Carbohydrate 8g (Sugars 3 g)  |  Total Fat 3.5g (Sat Fat 1g)  |  Protein 3g  |  Fiber .5g  |  Cholesterol mg  |  Sodium 120mg  |  Food Exchanges:  1/2 Carbohydrate, 1 Fat |  Carbohydrate Choices: 1/2 |  Weight Watcher Plus Point Comparison:  2 Smart Points: 2
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TASTE NOTES
These cake-like bars hit the spot, but the cream cheese frosting is the real star of the show. These are just the thing with a cup of tea and can be frozen individually to spread out the delight.

Macaroni and Cheese Muffins



I'm all about finding ways to lighten up favorite foods, as long as it doesn't involve using zucchini, Greek yogurt, or Fiber One cereal. I want my food to taste like the "real thing," so these replacements just don't do it for me.

On the other hand, Marlene Koch is a magician in the kitchen. Her ability to slash sugar, fat, and calories from everyone's favorites while retaining the tastes we love,  puts her at the top of my list for "go to" recipes. I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of her cookbook, Eat What You Love, but in the meantime I've been visiting her website, www.marlenekoch.com, for this week's meal plan.

These macaroni and cheese muffins come in at 127 calories or 3 WW Smart Points each.



INGREDIENTS - 12 servings

8 ounces small elbow macaroni (about 2½ cups)
2 cups reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup low-fat milk
1 large egg
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons melted butter

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place foil or paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin and spray lightly with non-stick baking spray

2. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and immediately return to the pot. Add the cheese and stir until it is nearly melted.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and milk. Add the egg and whisk until smooth. Pour the milk mixture over the macaroni and mix well.

4. In a small bowl combine the butter, garlic salt, and breadcrumbs. Scoop the macaroni mixture evenly into the prepared muffin tins (it will be wet and milky, but don’t worry, it will bake up fine). Sprinkle 2 teaspoons crumbs on each and bake for 20 minutes.


NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING (1 muffin): Calories 127 | Carbohydrate 18g (Sugars 1.5g) | Total Fat 3g (Sat Fat 1g) | Protein 9g | Fiber 3g | Cholesterol 20mg | Sodium 210mg | Food Exchanges: 1 Starch, 1 Lean Meat | Carbohydrate Choices: 1 | Weight Watcher Plus Point Comparison: 3 Smart Point Comparison = 3

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TASTE NOTES
There are no false notes--or tastes-- in these quick fix mac and cheese muffins. They have the same delicious flavors of the macaroni and cheese you crave and reheat perfectly in a microwave at 50% power. Either served as a side dish with a grilled flank steak  and green beans for dinner, or with a big tossed salad for lunch, this is real food that satisfies at a fraction on the caloric cost. Marlene is a nutritionist who is also an excellent cook.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Meat Sauce, Down and Dirty


This isn't Bolognese sauce; let me be upfront about that. A good Bolognese takes hours to develop that wonderful, rich melding of flavors that makes lasagna the special occasion dish it is. But if you crave pasta with meat sauce and have about 30 minutes, this sauce will fit the bill and leave you enough to freeze for another meal.

Yield:  12 (1/2 cup) servings (4 SP, if you're counting)

INGREDIENTS
2 lbs  ground beef, 90%
2 slices bread, torn into small pieces (I used Nature's Own whole wheat)
1/4 c milk (I used fat free)
1 large onion, chopped finely
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1 (28 oz) can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

DIRECTIONS
Tear 2 slices of bread into small pieces; add milk and mash together. Add to meat and use your hands to knead the panade into the meat until it is evenly distributed. Set aside.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. 
 
Add meat to onion and garlic mixture  and season with salt and pepper; saute 5-10 minutes until no pink remains, stirring to break up meat. 

Add crushed tomatoes, oregano, and red pepper. Stir well. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over your favorite pasta (radiatore and rigatoni are made for this kind of sauce). There's enough for 2 lbs of pasta, so divide accordingly. This freezes well.
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TASTE NOTES
I love a good Bolognese sauce, whether combined with bechamel in a lasagna or served over a dish of potato gnocchi. That said, I just don't make it for two of us. Craving a dish of pasta with meat sauce, I made this down and dirty version of meat sauce and it was sublime. The best part is I made it Sunday morning in less than a half hour, reheated half of it that night, and have 3 more cups in the freezer to use when the next craving hits.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Pasta e Fagioli Soup, Carmine's Way



There are probably as many versions of pasta e fagioli as there are chicken noodle soup. I have a favorite recipe that I've made for years, but as I was leafing through my copy of Carmine's Family-style Cookbook, I saw a new version and decided to make it (with minimal revisions).

Servings:  7 (1 cup servings) at 3 SP each

1 cup dried cannellini beans
2 tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
4 slices Oscar Meyer center cut bacon, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery rib, diced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
8 cups lower sodium chicken broth
1 small smoked pork neck bone
5 canned San Marzano plum tomatoes, drained
2 ounces dried ditalini pasta
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese (OPT:  more for serving)

Directions:

Place the beans in a large pot and cover with 1 to 2 inches of cold water. Let the beans soak 6-12 hours, changing the water several times.

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the bacon and cook the mixture slowly until browned. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add the bay leaves, oregano, rosemary, and Italian seasoning and saute for another few minutes. Add the stock and neckbone.

Drain the beans and add to the stock. Bring up to a boil and boil for about 10 minutes. Use your hands to crush the plum tomatoes into the pot. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup briskly for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are tender but not mushy.

Increase the heat, add the pasta, and boil the soup, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until the pasta is done and the soup has thickened. Remove the neckbone, add the cheese, and serve.
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TASTE NOTES
I made this soup to serve later in the week since I know the flavors will continue to develop. That plan may or may not work because one taste has revealed that this is my new go-to pasta e fagioli. The soup is thick, rich, and deeply flavorful. It is still more of a bean soup than a tomato soup, which I love. Next time, I'll use fresh herbs, but this is a definite keeper.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Chicken Roll-ups, Cubano Style



I've tried a number of Skinnytaste recipes with mixed results, but this evening's dinner was a "winner, winner, chicken dinner." I adore Cuban sandwiches and this entree, though it doesn't contain the salami (a favorite of mine and one I don't indulge in often), is definitely reminiscent of that dish. I made very few changes to the original recipe.

Serves 2-4, 4 SP per serving

4 (1 lb total) thin, boneless chicken cutlets
1 1/4 cups pickle juice (or enough to cover cutlets)
4 tsp stone ground Dijon mustard
2 oz thinly sliced, lower sodium ham
4 slices Sargento's Ultra thin Swiss cheese
9 hamburger dill slices
olive oil spray

For the breading:
1 large egg, beaten
1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/3 cup panko

Directions:
Place chicken in a gallon freezer bag and cover with the pickle juice. Marinate 5-8 hours in the refrigerator. Drain and dry the chicken completely on paper towels. Discard marinade.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a baking sheet with the olive oil cooking spray.

Spread 1 tsp mustard over each chicken cutlet.

Layer the ham, then the cheese, then 3 pickle slices on each chicken cutlet. Roll up and secure with 2 or 3 toothpicks.

Beat egg in a shallow bowl; combine bread crumbs and panko in another shallow bowl.

Dip each roll in the egg, then coat with the crumbs.

Transfer rolls to baking sheet. Spray the rolls generously with the olive oil cooking spray. Bake 25 minutes.
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TASTE NOTES
Aside from the need to plan for the marinating of the chicken cutlets, this is an entree that goes together in about 10 minutes. I served it this night with a 4 bean salad because after baking Christmas cookies all day, I was too tired to make any other sides. In the future, I might make some saffron rice and black beans. This is going to be a frequent meal with its ease of preparation and low points.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Nacho Stuffed Shells





Weight Watchers has changed their Smart Points program, expanding the list of 0 point foods. Looking for new recipes to take advantage of this change, I happened on a recipe for nacho stuffed shells. I made some minor changes (eliminating chilies and adding scallions) and served this dish with a shrimp cocktail appetizer and a green salad.

Serves 6 (3 shells per serving; 5 SP per serving)

Ingredients

20 uncooked jumbo shells
15 oz can tom1at free salsa
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tbs reduced sodium taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup reduced fat whipped cream cheese spread
4 chopped scallions
1/3 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar
16 oz can fat free refried beans
2 tbs chopped cilantro
1/2 lb uncooked ground turkey (99% fat free)

  • Directions

  • In large bowl, stir together tomato puree, salsa and garlic powder. Spread 3/4 cup sauce mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Reserve remaining sauce.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Rinse with cold water and drain.
  • Cook turkey in a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray, over medium heat, breaking pieces up until turkey is no longer pink. Stir in taco seasoning, water and cream cheese, stirring until cream cheese is melted; simmer until thickened. Stir in refried beans and scallions.
  • Fill shells with bean mixture, using 2 tablespoons filling per shell. Place filled shells in prepared baking dish, top with remaining sauce.
  • Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and cilantro and bake 5 to 10 more minutes.
  • ******************************
  • TASTE NOTES
  • These shells were filling and delicious. I might add sour cream and avocado in the future, but they were perfect as is.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ramen Noodle Bowls


Maybe it's my age, but I had never before eaten ramen noodles--not those little packages loaded with sodium, or the real thing from a noodle shop. Because I have come to trust the recipes at Cook's Country magazine, as soon as I saw the recipe for ramen noodle bowls, I knew I had to try it.

I made the recipe (almost) exactly as written, but will add a few ingredients and streamline the instruction next time. Oh, yes! There will be a next time.

Ingredients
2 tbs hoisin sauce (I reduced the amount from their 1/4 cup)
3 tbs soy sauce (I use low sodium)
2 tsp cornstarch
1 (12 oz) pork tenderloin, trimmed halved lengthwise, and sliced crosswise into 1/4" slices
2 1/4 cups chicken broth (I use fat free, low sodium)
2 tbs vegetable oil
4 oz white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thinly
1 tbs grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, grated
3 (3 oz) pkg ramen noodles (save the seasoning packets for another use; or, discard)
12 oz broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 scallions, sliced thinly on the bias

Instructions
Whisk 1 tbs hoisin, 1 tbs soy sauce, and cornstarch together in a medium bowl. Add sliced pork and toss to coat. Set aside.

Whisk broth, remaining 1 tbs hoisin, and remaining 2 tbs soy sauce together in a large measuring cup and set aside.

Heat 1 tbs oil in large, nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.


Add broth mixture and bring to a boil. Arrange the noodles in skillet in a single layer; cover, reduce heat to medium.  Cook about 3 minutes. Noodles will be soft on bottom, but still dry on top.


Uncover skillet and use tongs to flip noodles and stir to separate. Spread noodles in an even layer and scatter broccoli over the top of them. Cover and cook until noodles and broccoli are tender, about 3 more minutes, tossing halfway through.

Divide mixture evenly among 4 individual bowls and tent with foil.*

*The purpose of doing this is to make this a one-skillet dish. In the future, I will use a second skillet and cook the pork at the same time.

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. Add the other tbs oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the pork in a single layer and cook until browned on one side (1-2 minutes). Flip each slice and brown the other side, then stir to make sure pork is cooked through. Divide among the 4 bowls and top with the scallions.

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TASTE NOTES
Let's just say, this was love at first bite. OMG! I couldn't believe how unbelievably delicious (and low in points) this dish was. Yes, there is a bit of preparation involved. In the future, I'll do all the chopping well in advance. It wasn't a difficult dish to make and it will go more smoothly the next time using a nonstick wok AND a nonstick skillet. My decision to decrease the amount of hoisin was a good one; I think it would have been cloying with more. I will probably add some shredded carrot, some chopped water chestnuts, and some shitake mushrooms in the future. I might even add some nuts.  However, this dinner was enjoyed with lots of yummy noises just as it was.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Cinnamon Chip Scones (Panera Copycat Recipe)


I love all things cinnamon, so when cinnamon chips burst upon the baking scene, I made Snickerdoodle cookies, breads, and cupcakes. One day, I tasted DSO's cinnamon chip scone at Panera's and it was love at first bite. An internet search brought up many recipes and I tinkered a bit and this was what I came up with.

INGREDIENTS
3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold, unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup reduced fat buttermilk
1 pkg (10 oz) cinnamon baking chips
2 tbs melted butter and 3 tbs sugar (for brushing tops of scones)

DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk until just moistened. Fold in the chips.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently, 12-15 times, until dough is no longer sticky. Divide in half.

Gently pat each portion into a 7 inch circle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Then, cut each circle into 8 even wedges.

Separate the wedges and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake* at 425 degrees F for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browed. Serve warm.

*I prepared these a day ahead and refrigerated them right on the baking sheet. I baked them in a 425 degree F oven, but it took 28 minutes for them to be done. I also drizzled half of them with a simple glaze made of confectioners sugar, 2 tbs brewed espresso, and enough milk to make the mixture drizzle easily.
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TASTE NOTES
I made these scones for my quilt guild's business meeting and they were met with great enjoyment. The one I sampled was absolutely perfect--a great crumb and the icing was just enough. In fact, I thought they were better than Panera's--not as dry.