Posted in Pasta dish, Poultry, Sauces, Vegetables

Easy, quick and light…


I wasn’t sure what I was going to make for dinner tonight until about 3:30 when it hit me that dinner isn’t too far off.  I had some chicken breasts in the freezer, plenty of pasta in the pantry and chicken broth that I always keep on hand.  With that, I decided to throw it all together and came up with this recipe.

Enjoy and happy cooking!

Chicken and Broccoli with Pasta

Serves 4

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound skinless/boneless chicken breasts – cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cup broccoli flowerets

2 cloves garlic – minced

¼ cup white wine

1 cup fat free chicken broth – separated

1 teaspoon marjoram

1 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon chervil

1/3 cup fat free half and half

2/3 cup skim milk

1 tablespoon flour

¼ cup parmesan cheese

½ box penne pasta

Directions:

  1. Cook penne as per the package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet on medium high heat, spray with cooking spray and add chicken.  Sauté chicken pieces until browned.
  3. Add broccoli flowerets and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
  4. Add wine, ½ cup of chicken broth, marjoram, basil, red pepper flakes and chervil.  Cook until liquid is reduced by half.
  5. Remove chicken mixture from the skillet and place into a bowl, cover to keep warm.
  6. To cook the sauce: in a small bowl combine half and half, skim milk, ½ cup chicken broth and flour and whisk until combined.  Add to skillet and heat on medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. 
  7. Drain penne and add to skillet with sauce.  Stir in parmesan cheese then add chicken mixture and fold into sauce and penne.
  8. Spoon into serving platter and serve.
Posted in Cooking Styles/Techniques, Main Courses, Poultry, Saute`, Tips/Hints

I just couldn’t resist…


I had to buy a cookbook from Tennessee and found one with some really amazing recipes.  Tonight’s dinner is inspired from a recipe in the cookbook, but of course, has been modified to be “Delicious & Light”.

I have an important note on this recipe.  When you ignite the whiskey in the pan, keep the kids away!  I cannot stress enough how dangerous this step can be.  I was in the process of lighting a long fireplace match and was going to slowly bring it close to the whiskey to ignite but  as soon as I flicked the lighter (too close to the skillet) the whiskey ignited (more like exploded).  It would be better to use a long BBQ lighter instead and I plan on investing in one right away. 

The great thing is that the dish came out delicious and I did not get injured or lose my eyebrows so overall, dinner was a big success.

Enjoy and careful igniting

Turkey Breast with Whiskey Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 pounds skinless turkey breast roast

Salt and pepper

½ cup whiskey

3 shallots – chopped

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

¼ teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon parsley

¼ cup water

¼ cup fat free half and half

¾ cup skim milk

1 tablespoon flour

Directions:

  1. Heat large skillet on high heat and spray with cooking spray.  Season turkey breast with salt and pepper and add to skillet.  Brown on both sides.
  2. Add whiskey and carefully ignite, shaking skillet until the flames go out.
  3. Lower heat to medium, add brown sugar and shallots and cook for about 2 minutes until softened.
  4. Lower heat to medium low and add thyme, parsley and water.  Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
  5. Transfer turkey to a platter and cover to keep warm.
  6. In a small bowl, combine half and half, milk and flour and add to skillet.  Cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly.
  7. Slice turkey breast and pour sauce on top and serve.

Estimated Values:

Calories = 310                                              Fat = 1.5 grams

Posted in Tips/Hints, Travel

Back at the homestead…


We made it back home, but not without having had enjoyed just a few more Southern BBQ meals along the way.  We stopped in Knoxville Tennessee for lunch and were lucky enough to bump into a restaurant called “Famous Dave’s”.  They have five varieties of BBQ sauces at every table and encourage samplings with your meal.  It is interesting to see how different BBQ sauce can be based on individual preferences and various regions throughout the United States.  If you are ever traveling through Tennessee, this is a place worth visiting.  The meat was very tender and the sauces are delicious.

While in Christiansburg Virginia, a local recommended we try a restaurant called “Due South”.  This was also good and I had the awesome opportunity to try fried green tomatoes for the first time.  Even though this is clearly not a “Delicious & Light” side dish, I just couldn’t resist.  They were really good and I am determined to try to re-create some light version of this at home in the summer when our garden is up and growing.

Back home and back to cooking.  I know there will be a roast turkey breast on the menu tomorrow and will let you know where I go from there with cooking it.

Until then, enjoy and happy samplings…

Posted in Tips/Hints, Travel

Eating In Tennessee


We were on the road a few days and are finishing up our fun trip to Nashville.  I love going to places I have never been before to sample the delicious tastings that other parts of our  big  beautiful country has to offer.  I have to say that the food in Tennessee did not disappoint and even though we are in BBQ country, there were low fat options available (even if they aren’t advertised that way).  Nick had smoked turkey for lunch one day and BBQ pork loin for dinner another.  Dean and I changed it up a little and went for the BBQ pork ribs and beef brisket BBQ but then ordered a lighter item for the next meal.

If you are traveling and trying to keep things on the low fat side, you can choose lower fat cuts of meat and still enjoy the local cuisine.  Chicken breasts, turkey, pork loin and sirloin steaks are just a few options to choose from.  The nice thing is you still get to enjoy the local flavors through BBQ and other sauces, just stay away from creamy sauces or sauces that have butter written in the descriptions.

However, I must say that my favorite dish in Nashville was the shrimp and grits.  The grits had a very subtle hint of parmesan cheese in them and the shrimps were pan fried with bacon and scallions. I just took a few bacon pieces for the flavor but knew to keep away from eating all of them.  I am not sure if this is a standard local dish but it is worth trying to create a low fat version of this and I expect that when I get home, I will be shopping for grits & shrimp.  Don’t be surprised if you see a recipe for this dish in the coming days after we return.

Next stop…Roanoke, Virginia.

Until then, enjoy and happy traveling!

Posted in Beef

A flavor for BBQ


We are leaving for a road trip out to to Nashville, TN tomrrow morning.  I am very excited since we have never been out that way before.  In anticipation of visiting that part of the country, I been having a major hankering for BBQ.  So in the spirit of our upcoming trip, I cooked a BBQ Beef Stew.  I used a top round beef that has less fat in it than other types of beef.   This allows you to watch your calorie and fat intake while still enjoying a hearty dinner.

Enjoy and happy BBQing!!

Beef BBQ Stew

Serves 8

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 1 ½ – 2 hours

Ingredients:

2 pounds top round beef – trimmed of any fat

Salt and pepper to season beef

1 cup strong coffee

1 cup crushed tomatoes from a can

1 cup beer

½ cup ketchup

½ cup Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons chili powder

¼ cup brown sugar

½ – 1 jalapeno (depending on personal preference) – finely chopped

3 cloves garlic – minced

½ teaspoon liquid smoke

1 teaspoon smoke salt

1 tablespoon corn starch

¼ cup water

Directions:

  1. Cut beef into 1-inch cubes. Heat a large deep skillet on medium high heat and spray with cooking spray.  Season beef with salt and pepper and add to skillet.  Brown beef for about 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine coffee, crushed tomatoes, beer, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, brown sugar, garlic, liquid smoke and smoke salt then add to skillet with beef.  Bring mixture to a boil then lower heat and simmer for 1 ½ – 2 hours until beef is very tender.
  3. With a slotted spoon, remove beef and spoon into a serving bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water then add to sauce in pan.  Bring to boil, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly and thick.  Pour sauce over beef and serve.

Estimated Values per serving:

Calories = 300                                              Fat = 7 grams

Posted in Cajun, Cooking Styles/Techniques, Grilling, Main Courses, Poultry, Rice, Side Dishes

A spice to Life


One of the best ways to create delicious and flavorful low fat meals is by adding spices.  Most spices have very few calories and no fat.  The grilled chicken breast that we for dinner tonight offered something flavorful to what could normally be a very boring.  The only thing to be aware of is that you want to marinate the chicken breasts the night before so they can pick up all the flavors.  If there are spices that you do not like in the recipe, have fun and substitute with something that you do like. 

Enjoy and happy spicing!!

Grilled Cajun Chicken Breast with Spicy Rice

Serves 6

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Chicken Marinade:

¼ cup orange juice

Juice of 1 lime

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon rum

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

2 tablespoons paprika

1 teaspoon chipotle seasoning

1 teaspoon thyme

¼ teaspoon allspice

2 pounds skinless/boneless chicken breast

Spicy Rice Ingredients:

2 cups vegetable broth

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1 cup long grain brown rice

1 cup corn kernels

½ green bell pepper – chopped

1/3 cup black beans from a can – drained and rinsed

Directions:

  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a large sealable bag, add chicken breast and marinate overnight.
  2. The night of dinner: Combine the vegetable broth, paprika and Cajun seasoning to a boil then add rice.  Simmer for 45 minutes.
  3. While rice is cooking, combine corn and bell pepper in a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon water and cook in the microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Add beans and set aside.
  4. Heat grill on high heat, remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade.
  5. Spray grill with cooking spray and add chicken breast.  Grill for 5 – 7 minutes on each side until cooked through.
  6. When rice is cooked, add corn and beans and spoon onto a serving platter.  Place chicken breasts on top and serve.

Estimated Nutritional Value per serving:

Calories = 473                                              Fat = 3 grams

Posted in Dessert, Meringue

Very Sweet – Treat


I love the inside of pecan pie but find myself picking off the pecans and skipping the crust because I know that they are very high in calories and fat.  This dessert inspiration comes from pecan pie but without all the fat and calories.  I removed the nuts and crust from the pie and did a meringue topping instead.  What I came out with is a very sweet but delicious custard like dessert.  Dean says this reminds him of flan with a meringue topping.  However, it really cannot be in the “flan” family because it has no dairy in it and no caramel like sauce.

  We both tried it after it came out of the oven and though it was great but unfortunately, I refrigerated it and it lost a lot in the cooling process.  So I decided this would best be served slightly warm or at room temperature.  The refrigeration does not do it justice.

Check it out:

Molasses Meringue Cups

Preheat oven 350o

Serves 10

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Filling Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup egg substitute

¼ cup light corn syrup

¼ cup molasses

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 ¼ tablespoon cornstarch

Meringue Ingredients:

3 egg whites – at room temperature

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

4 tablespoons sugar

Directions:

  1. Spray 10 4 ounce ramekins with cooking spray and set on a baking sheet.  Set aside
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat together brown sugar, egg substitute, corn syrup, molasses, vanilla and cornstarch on high speed until well combined.  Set aside.
  3. In a different mixing bowl and using different beaters, combine egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute until soft peaks form.  Gradually add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and beat on high speed for 4 -5 additional minutes until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved.
  4. Assemble the cups by evenly pouring a little batter into each cup then spooning the meringue on top and spreading it until all the filling is covered.
  5. Bake at 350o for 15 minutes then lower the temperature to 325o and bake another 10 – 15 minutes.  The cups are done when you shake the baking pan and the filling inside is not jiggling.
  6. Remove from heat, cool for about 30 minutes and serve slightly warm.

Estimated Values per Serving:

Calories = 180                                        Fat = trace

Posted in Beef, Cooking Styles/Techniques, Rub, Slow Cook, Spices, Tips/Hints

Beef…It’s what was for dinner tonight.


Beef dinners can be tough because generally speaking, they are not naturally low in fat.  There are, however, cuts of beef that are leaner than most.  Keep in mind though, the leaner the cut, the tougher it can be.  So what we do is put a dry rub on the beef, let it sit for 3 – 24 hours in the refrigerator and either grill it or slow cook it.

Today there was a great sale on top round steak.  For a 3 ounce serving, this runs at about 180 calories and 7 grams of fat.  This may seem like a lot to you but considering that beef brisket runs 190 calories and 21 grams of fat for the same 3 ounces.  So you are basically getting a lot more bang for your buck by choosing the right cut.

Again, make sure that the leaner meats are marinated in either a rub or wet marinade to tenderize it.  Here is the rub we used:

1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoons paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
1 pounds top round steak

Rub on steak and allow to marinate for a minimum of 3 hours but can stay in the refrigerator overnight.  If slow cooking the beef, set oven to 250o and cook until the internal temperature reaches 145o for medium rare, 155o for medium or 160o for well done.  If grilling, set grill and cook until the beef reaches the degree of doneness to your liking (see above).

Posted in Bake, Breakfast, Cooking Styles/Techniques, Dessert

Breakfast for the guests…


My whole family would be quick to tell you that I am not much of a morning person.  So, whenever we have overnight guests, I plan on something that takes minimal morning time effort. 

If you are planning overnight guests, check this out.  Apple Pie French Toast is easy because you do all the preparation the night before and in the morning, heat the oven & pop it in.   Forty minutes later you have this amazingly sweet whole breakfast meal. 

Enjoy and happy breakfasting!!

 Apple Pie French toast

Cooked 10/26/09

Servings 8

Prep time: approximately

Bake time: 40 – 45 minutes

Preheat oven 375o

Ingredients:

½ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon – separated

2 Tablespoons reduced calorie and fat butter spread – melted

2 apples, peeled – cored and thinly sliced

¼ cup raisins

½ loaf Challah bread – cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup egg substitute

1 cup skim milk

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Spray a 13 X 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Combine brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and melted butter spread.  Add apples and raisins and toss.  Set aside.
  3. Layer bread on the bottom of the baking pan.  Mix egg substitute, milk, nutmeg, vanilla and remaining cinnamon until well blended.  Pour mixture over bread, soaking completely. 
  4. Spread apple mixture evenly over top of a bread mixture. 
  5. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 
  6. Bake covered with foil, for 40 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 4 – 5 additional minutes.  Remove and let stand for about 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

TIP: If you cannot find Challah bread, any egg bread or soft sweet bread will also work.

Estimated Values per serving:

Calories = 302                                              Fat = 4 grams

Posted in Dessert

A great dessert for company…


I made this dessert last night for company in the spirit of the holiday.  Unfortunately, I got a whole lot of teasing from family and friends because Trifle is English, not Irish.  My apologies to anyone out there who is Irish; I meant no offense.  I just thought it would be a nice compliment the heavy corned beef and cabbage meal. 

Berry Trifle

Serves 12

prep and assembly time: about 30 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

NOTE: Needs several hours for custard to chill

Custard Ingredients:

½ cup sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 cups skim milk

¾ cup egg substitute

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

  1.  Whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt in a large saucepan.
  2. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth, then egg substitute.
  3. Cook over medium heat, whisking gently, until mixture comes to a boil; about 7 – 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, whisking constantly for 1 minute longer. 
  4. Remove from heat and add vanilla. 
  5. Pour into bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing down on the custard with the plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. 
  6. Refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Assembly Ingredients:

2 cups strawberries

11/2 cup blueberries

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons Chambord liquor (optional)

1 recipe of custard (recipe above)

1 cooked angel food cake

Extra berries for garnish

Assembly Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine strawberries, blueberries, sugar and liquor and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
  2. In a large clear round serving bowl (trifle bowls are sold at most stores if you prefer), cut the angel food cake in the middle so that you have two pieces the same height (as if you are cutting a cake in half to frost the middle).  Cut a slit in the round cakes.  Place one half of the cake on the bottom of the cake bowl, then fit around the bottom of the bow, cutting out any extra cake.  Use the extra piece of cake and place in the middle to fill the hole at the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Top cake with ½ of the berries then top with ½ of the pudding.
  4. Top the pudding with the remaining cake, then pudding then ending with the berries.
  5. Garnish with the extra berries.

Tip: Depending on the size of your serving bowl, you may have too much cake and may not need to use it all.

Estimated Calories and fat per serving:

Calories = 214                                              Fat = trace