Posted in Bake, Casserole, Easy, Main Courses, Poultry, Tips/Hints, Uncategorized

Southwest Chicken Casserole


I am always looking for light twists on typical dishes.  I will get inspiration from friends, cook books, magazines and TV shows and it is fun to take an otherwise fattening dish and make it light enough that I don’t feel bad about feeding it to my family.  The trick of course is to figure out a way to make it taste the same or better than the original dish.

Then there are those nights where I have nothing in mind and I jut start cooking with what I have.  Sometimes the dishes come out great and other times I am reluctant to feed it to my dog.  That is the fun and beauty of cooking….sometimes you never know what you are going to get!

Tonight’s dish was one of those dinners where I really didn’t have a plan, just some ingredients.  Looking back now I could have made this dish a little “lighter” but it was close enough and it was delicious.  I even had some Pillsbury Pizza dough which I formed and baked into little cups.  I then serve Nick and my portions in the cup.  Funny thing is they were gone so fast I didn’t take a picture!  Oh well next time.  Enjoy.

Southwest Chicken Casserole

Preheat oven 375o

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Estimated values per serving:

Calories =   257                           Fat = 7 grams

Serves 6

Ingredients:

4 ounces low fat cream cheese – softened

1 tablespoon taco seasoning

1 ½ cups salsa

1 cup diced tomatoes from a can – drained

2 pounds boneless cooked chicken breast – cut into ½ inch pieces

1 cup low fat grated Mexican cheese mix

1 15-ounce can black beans – drained and rinsed

Directions:

1.    Beat cream cheese and taco seasoning on high speed until whipped.

2.    Fold in salsa, tomatoes, chicken, cheese and black beans.

3.    Coat a 12 by 8 inch casserole baking pan with cooking spray.  Spoon chicken mixture into casserole pan.

4.    Bake, covered, for 30 minutes then uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

5.    Serve hot.

Posted in Dessert, Fruits

Blueberry -Lemon Parfaits


Blueberry-Lemon Parfaits

Blueberry-Lemon Parfait

Serves 6

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Refrigeration time: at least 1 hour

Estimated Values per Serving

Calories: 250                        Fat: 1 gram                            Points: 4

Blueberry Sauce Ingredients:

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup water

3 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

½ cup granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Combine cornstarch, flour and water and stir until combined.
  2. In large saucepot, combine blueberries, cornstarch mixture, and sugar substitute and heat on medium low, stirring often. 
  3. Cook mixture until it comes to a boil and becomes thickened, stirring constantly.   
  4. Set aside and cool to room temperature (at least 1 hour).

Lemon Filling Ingredients:

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon lemon peel

2 tablespoons egg substitute

  1. Combine all ingredients and whisk in a small saucepot until well combined.
  2. Cook on medium low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture becomes thickened.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Assembly Ingredients:

1 recipe blueberry sauce

1 recipe lemon filling

10 vanilla flavored low fat cookies – crushed

6 4-ounce dessert cups

Whipped cream (optional)

Directions:

  1. Spoon a little of the crumbled cookies in the bottom of each dessert cup.  Spoon blueberry sauce then top with lemon filling.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and serve cold.
  3. Top with whipped cream (if desired).
Posted in Appetizers, Grilling, Poultry, Vegetables

An Appetizer idea…


The other night we had some friends over to celebrate a birthday and I served Chicken Skewers with Cucumber Dip.  This is a good first course that is easy to eat because it does not require using a fork or plate. 

I always find it so awkward at wedding and parties when you have a drink in one hand and have to use a fork and plate for the hors d’ oeuvres.  Finger food is the way to make life easy for everyone.

Enjoy your easy nibbling cuisine!

Marinated Chicken skewers with Cucumber Yogurt Dip

Serves 8

Ingredients:

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets

Juice of 1 lemon

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Skewers

Directions:

  1. Cut chicken breasts into 2” cubes and put into bowl to marinate. 
  2. Add lemon juice, garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.  Mix well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Skewer chicken breast pieces.
  4. Grill Chicken skewers for 7 minutes on each side until browned and cooked.

Dip Ingredients:

½ European cucumber – seeded and grated

4 ounces low fat cream cheese – softened

½ cup fat free Greek yogurt

2 cloves garlic – minced

Salt to taste

  1. Remove excess water from cucumber by placing it in a double paper towel.  Twist the ends of the paper towel over the sink to allow the cucumber water to drain from the cucumber. 
  2. In a bowl, fold in the cucumber, cream cheese, yogurt, garlic and salt. 
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or overnight).
Posted in Dessert

My First Delicious and Light Recipe Challenge…


Low Fat Lemon Tart

My girlfriend, Alison, sent me a recipe for a Lemon Ricotta Tart and asked if I could lighten it up.  I tried this recipe yesterday and it was mediocre; the tart didn’t have a strong enough lemon flavor.  So, I made a few changes to intensify the tartness by increasing the amount of lemon juice and adding sour cream.

I did not have a tart pan with a removable bottom so I used a spring form pan (cheesecake pan) and it came out perfectly except that I had to bake it for about 60 minutes, not 35.  If you are trying this recipe, check it after about 40 minutes to make sure it bakes correctly.

I am offering the original and the modified low fat recipe so you can compare.

I was actually lucky enough to get a second request on a different lemon recipe and will be following up on that one soon.  Keep submitting those recipes that you’d like to see transformed into delicious and light.

Enjoy and happy baking…

Lemon Ricotta Tart Light
Serves 8

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

6 cups Frosted Flakes cereal

4 tablespoons low calorie butter spread – melted

1 cup fat free ricotta cheese

½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese

½ cup fat free sour cream

4 ounces light cream cheese – softened

1 tablespoon flour

½ cup egg substitute

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)

½ cup lemon juice

Confectioners’ sugar – for dusting (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven 375o. In a food processor, pulse cereal until finely ground (to yield 2 cups). Add butter spread and mix well until crumbs are evenly moistened.
  2. Spray a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and transfer crumb mixture into pan. Press firmly into the bottom and up the sides. Place pan on a baking sheet; bake crust until lightly browned and set, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven.
  3. In clean food processor, blend ricotta, sour cream, cream cheese, flour, egg substitute, granulated sugar lemon zest and lemon juice until smooth. Pour into hot crust in pan
  4. Bake until filling is set and browned in spots, 30 to 35 minutes.
  5. Cool completely on a wire rack. Just before serving, dust top of tart with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

Estimated Values per serving:

Calories = 265                                      Fat = 7 grams

ORIGINAL RECIPE:

Lemon Ricotta Tart (from the cookbook Fresh Flavor Fast)
Serves 8

72 vanilla wafers (from a 12-ounce box)

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

2 cups ricotta cheese

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 large eggs

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons), plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven 375 degrees. In a food processor, pulse vanilla wafers until finely ground (to yield 2 cups). Add butter and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened.
  2. Transfer crumb mixture to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press firmly into the bottom and up the sides. Place pan on a baking sheet; bake crust until lightly browned and set, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven.
  3. In clean food processor, blend ricotta, cream cheese, eggs, granulated sugar, and lemon zest until smooth. Pour into hot crust in pan; bake until filling is set and slightly browned, about 60 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Just before serving, dust top of tart with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

 Estimated Values per serving:

Calories = 310                                                 Fat = 18 grams

Posted in Side Dishes

On Entertaining…


A friend asked me today if I had a good scalloped potato recipe that she could use for Easter Sunday dinner.  If you too are looking for a scalloped potato recipe, here is one for you to try.  I always use some version of this basic recipe because it’s easy to prepare and always comes out right. 

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

Serves 6

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 80 minutes

Preheat oven 400o

Ingredients:

Butter flavored cooking spray

2 cups skim milk

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

3 tablespoons flour

2 pounds potatoes – peeled and thinly sliced

½ onion – sliced thinly

¼ cup reduced calorie and fat shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Spray a 9X9 inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Stir together milk, pepper, salt, onion powder and flour in a saucepot.
  3. Heat mixture on medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to bubble and thickens.  Set aside.
  4. Layer half of the potatoes and onion in the baking dish then pour half of the milk mixture on top.  Repeat layering potatoes and onion and pour the remaining milk mixture on top making sure that it completely covers the potatoes and onion.
  5. Sprinkle cheese on top of potato mixture.
  6. Bake at 400o for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 350o and bake another 60 minutes.

Estimated Values:

Calories = 170                                              Fat = 1.5