Friday, August 31, 2007

Lemon Dill Couscous

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

3/4 cup uncooked plain couscous
3-1/4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dill weed

Follow couscous package directions for 2 servings, adding salt to the water and omitting the oil or butter from the first step. Stir in the couscous, lemon juice and dill. Cover and remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Tips and Tricks
This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled to feed larger families. If using fresh dill, increase the amount.
Make It Healthier
Use whole wheat couscous.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Fluff with fork.

Nutrition Facts
1 cup equals 249 calories, 1 g fat (trace saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 302 mg sodium, 53 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 10 g protein

Garlic Chicken

With only three ingredients, this moist and yummy chicken dish will be on your dinner table in no time flat!

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 envelope garlic and herb or Italian salad dressing mix
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine Parmesan cheese and dressing mix. Add chicken; shake to coat.

Place chicken in a greased baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear.

Tips and Tricks
I used about a pound a half of chicken, so I added 3/4 cup of plain breadcrumbs to the salad dressing/cheese mix. Use whatever kind of cheese you have on hand. Use the fine side of the cheese grater for better results.
Make It Healthier
Use reduced-fat cheese. Trim fat from chicken.
How Kids Can Help
Shake bag to coat chicken. Older kids can grate cheese.

Busy Day Round Steak

Prep: 10 minutes
Yield: 8 Servings

2 lbs round steak, cut up
1 can cream of celery or mushroom soup
1 pkg Lipton onion soup mix
3/4 cup water
1/2 bag southern style hash brown potatoes

Place potatoes on bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Layer steak over potatoes. Combine soup & water, pour over meat in pan, sprinkle dry onion soup over the top. Cover with foil & bake in oven for 3 hours at 300 degrees.

Tips & Tricks:
This can be made in the crock pot as well. You can use fresh cut up potatoes in place of hash browns, or you can omit the potatoes & serve over rice.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Spotlight On Produce: Blueberries

One of my favorite seasonal fruits to eat is the blueberry, and I look forward to having them fresh in my cereal all year long. I also love blueberry muffins, or mixed with yogurt, or eaten plain.

Blueberries are the fruits of a shrub and are related to cranberries, as well as azalea, mountain laurel and rhododendron. Blueberries grow in clusters and range from pea-sized to marble-sized. They are deep in color, ranging from blue to maroon to purple-black. Blueberries are available frozen all year long, but are at their best during the growing season of May through October.

Blueberries are a nutritional powerhouse, fairly bursting with nutrients for very few calories. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants and are a good source of Vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber.

When choosing blueberries, look for fruit with a bright, uniform hue. Shake the container; if the berries do not move freely, this may be an indication that they are soft and damaged or moldy. Avoid berries that appear dull in color or are soft and watery in texture. When purchasing frozen berries, shake the bag gently to ensure that the berries move freely and are not clumped together, which may suggest that they have been thawed and refrozen. Fresh blueberries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Don't wash the berries until right before you eat them, as washing and storing can remove the protective film on the surface of the fruit and speed spoilage.

What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy blueberries?

Seasoned Croutons

Prep: 20 minutes
Bake: 10 minutes
Yield: 12 servings/3 cups

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch salt
6 slices day-old bread, cubed

In an ungreased baking pan, combine the butter, oil and seasonings. Heat in a 300° oven until butter is melted. Remove from the oven; stir to combine.

Add bread cubes and toss to coat. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Cool. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Tips and Tricks
Make sure the bread is dry enough. I first tried this recipe with bread that was still quite moist, and it didn't turn out.
Make It Healthier
Use unsalted butter or trans-fat free spread. Use whole grain bread.
How Kids Can Help
Measure seasonings. Cube bread. Toss to coat.

Nutrition Facts
1/4 cup equals 61 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 5 mg cholesterol, 99 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 1 g protein

Saving Time & Money: Uses for Stale Bread

As I was looking through the refrigerator tonight, I realized there was a full loaf of bread that isn't fresh-rather, it's actually quite dry. Since trans fat free, high fructose corn syrup free, whole wheat bread is anything but cheap, I started mentally compiling a list of ways to use stale bread, assuming it has not acquired off odors or flavors from being in the fridge or bread box too long. What are some of your favorite ways to use up bread?

Here are some of my favorite ways to use up bread without my meal suffering taste or quality:

Most meatloaf recipes call for either bread or a grain component, you can omit that in place of a few slices of stale bread. Nearly any meatloaf recipe can be modified to use 2 slices of bread per pound and a half of meat, in place of the bread crumbs or grains called for in the recipe. Or, try soaking a few slices of bread in water until soggy, bread blends well with ground meat. When the bread & meat are well blended, stir in an egg or two, 1/4 cup of milk, tomato sauce & your favorite seasonings.

As with meat loaf, homemade meatballs usually call for bread crumbs or water sodden bread. To turn stale bread into bread crumbs, broil for a few minutes until toasted, flip & broil on the opposite side. Crush & continue with recipe directions. Or if your recipe calls for bread soaked in water, stale bread works as well as fresh, just follow the directions for soaking the bread, and possibly add a tablespoon of extra water.

French Toast
Make your french toast as usual, only soaking in your egg/milk mixture slightly longer until bread is sodden.

Chicken Dinner Casserole and other recipes that call for soft or dry bread crumbs work well with stale bread as well. Try modifying any recipe that calls for dried stuffing mix by adding your favorite herb seasonings or a bit of powdered boullion in place of chicken or turkey flavoring.

Casserole Toppings
Top your favorite casserole with bread crumbs. Simply toast stale bread under your broiler & crush, then spread evenly on top of your casserole. It adds a boost of whole grain, and saves you money as pre-made bread crumbs can be pricey. After you crush your bread crumbs, they can be stored in the freezer until you are ready to use them.

French Onion Soup or other recipes that call for toasted bread can be easily made with stale bread. Just toast your bread in the toaster and follow the recipes.

Of course, if all else fails and the bread is stale beyond use, it may be time to plan a date with your kids to the marina or lake where they can feed the ducks. Bring your camera and enjoy the time with your children. It will be worth the money "wasted" on bread not used up.

Spinach Souffle'

Prep: 50 minutes, including baking
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 10 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
1 egg lightly beaten
2 tbs minced onions
1/2 cup herbed seasoning stuffing mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup parmesean cheese

Mix all together except cheese in a bowl, pour into 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Top with cheese and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Make it Healthier:
Butter can be reduced to 2 tbs with good results.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Peanut Chicken Stirfry

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1-1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup thinly sliced green pepper
1 cup thinly sliced sweet red pepper
1-1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Hot cooked rice

In a small bowl, combine the first six ingredients until smooth; set aside. In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry chicken in 1-1/2 teaspoons oil for 3-4 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm.

Stir-fry onion and peppers in remaining oil for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic; stir-fry 3-4 minutes longer or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

Stir cornstarch mixture and add to the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add chicken; heat through. Serve with rice.

Tips and Tricks
Substitute any veggies to suit the tastes of your family. Buy frozen pepper slices to save time. Buy pre-sliced mushrooms to save time. Can also be served over angel hair pasta instead of rice. Cook rice in microwave to avoid excessive heat in the kitchen.
Make It Healthier
Serve over brown rice. Use low-sodium soy sauce, low-sodium broth and natural peanut butter.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Push buttons on microwave.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Beef and Spinach Lasagna

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Yield: 12 servings

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 jars (26 ounces each) meatless spaghetti sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
9 no-cook lasagna noodles

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the spaghetti sauce, garlic, basil and oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. In a bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta and 1 cup mozzarella until combined. Spread 1-1/2 cups meat sauce into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Top with three noodles. Spread 1-1/2 cups sauce to edges of noodles. Top with half of the spinach mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles, sauce and mozzarella. Cover and bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Tips and Tricks
Using no-cook noodles significantly cuts down on the prep time. This recipe freezes well. I prefer Barilla lasagna noodles, but you can use any brand and add 1/2 cup water to the sauce. I also use less garlic. This dish can also be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated. If you have a small family, eat half and freeze the other half for another meal.
Make It Healthier
Use part-skim ricotta cheese. Increase the amount of spinach. Use lean ground beef and rinse it in a colander before adding to the filling. Check the ingredients list on your pasta sauce and use only brands that contain little added sugar or salt.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Layer noodles in pan. Older kids can shred cheese.
Suggested Sides
green salad, garlic bread

Nutrition Facts
1 piece (prepared with lean ground beef) equals 281 calories, 11 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 50 mg cholesterol, 702 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 20 g protein

Chicken Enchiladas

Prep: 20 minutes, plus baking
Yield: 12 Servings

4 chicken breasts, cooked & cubed
1 bunch green onions, chopped.
2 cans chopped green chilies (mild)
1 pint sour cream
2 cans cream of chicken soup
3/4 pound cheddar cheese, grated
3/4 pound monterey jack cheese, grated
12 8 inch flour tortillas

Combine chicken & chopped onions. In separate bowl combine soup, sour cream, & chilis.

Build enchiladas by placing 3-4 tablespoons of soup mixture in bottom of greased 9x13 pan. Place heaping tablespoons of chicken mixture down center of each tortilla. Top with spoonful of soup mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Roll tightly and place in pan, seam side down. When all enchiladas are rolled, top with remaining soup mixture & cheese Bake covered at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through. Remove cover for last 10 minutes of baking.

Tips & Tricks:
To save money & make it healthier, I use less cheese & less sour cream with good results. If I don't have monterey jack cheese, I just use cheddar or even mozzarella. Instead of cubing chicken, I chop it finely using my pampered chef chopper-to save money you can get by using less chicken this way. If you don't have green onions, you can use finely chopped yellow or white onion, or onion powder/onion flakes. In a pinch, cream of mushroom soup can be used in place of cream of chicken. Since there are only four in my family, I make this with 8 tortillas, 2 chicken breasts, and cut the rest of the ingredients in half. Then we have leftovers for lunch the next day. To save money use less expensive cuts of chicken, or use leftover cooked chicken from another meal.

Make it Healthier:
Use reduced fat sour cream, less cheese than suggested (I use about 1/2 lb total of cheese.) Use reduced sodium soup & chilis.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ham With Mustard Cream Sauce

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

4 individual boneless fully cooked ham steaks (about 5 ounces each)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup honey mustard
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

Place ham steaks in a large skillet. In a small bowl, combine water and mustard; pour over ham. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes, turning once. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and onions.

Tips and Tricks
I didn't have honey mustard, so I mixed bold and spicy mustard with a teaspoon of honey to make my own. I also cut the sauce ingredients in half and made one large ham steak.
Make It Healthier
Use reduced-fat sour cream.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Older kids can use kitchen shears to cut the green onions.

Nutrition Facts
1 serving (5 ounces) equals 154 calories, 9 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 39 mg cholesterol, 596 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 8 g protein

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chicken Dinner Casserole

Prep: 20 minutes plus 40 minutes baking
Yield: 4 Servings

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked & cubed
3 cups soft bread crumbs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup melted butter

Whisk together soup & milk. Add eggs, bread crumbs, butter, cheese & chicken. Pour into 8x8 baking dish & bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Tips & Tricks:
Use 1 box of stuffing mix in place of bread crumbs, let mixture stand 5 minutes before baking so it gets soft. For budget meal, use leftover chicken or less expensive cuts of chicken and reduce the amount of cheese.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Watermelon Ice

Prep/Total Time: 15 minutes + freezing
Yield: 6 servings

6 cups watermelon, seeds and rind removed and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a blender, puree watermelon and lemon juice, adding watermelon pieces in batches if necessary. Pour into a square baking dish and smooth the top.

Cover and freeze for at least 3 hours. Use an ice cream scoop to serve.

Tips and Tricks
Buy seedless watermelon to eliminate removing the seeds. A glass baking pan works better than metal.
Make It Healthier
This recipe contains no additional sugar or salt. It doesn't get any healthier!
How Kids Can Help
Add watermelon to blender. Push buttons on blender. Smooth top on mixture in baking pan.

Toasted Granola

This homemade granola is perfect mixed with yogurt, or topped with milk and eaten as cereal.

Prep: 20 minutes
Bake: 75 minutes
Yield: 21 servings

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup water
4 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups bran flakes
1 jar (12 ounces) toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, bring brown sugar and water to a boil. Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the oats, bran flakes, wheat germ, flour and salt. Stir oil and vanilla into sugar mixture; pour over oat mixture and toss to coat.

Transfer to two 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pans coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 250° for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours or until dry and lightly browned, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks. Store in an airtight container.

Tips and Tricks
Granulated brown sugar works just as well as packed. Be sure to read the ingredient list on the bran flakes, some brands contain artificial sugars.
Make It Healthier
Omit the salt.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Toss to coat.

Nutrition Facts
1/2 cup equals 202 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 118 mg sodium, 32 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 8 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
2 starch, 1 fat

Chicken Cacciatora

Prep: 50 minutes
Yield: 8 Servings

2 lbs chicken pieces, skinned, boned & cooked
2 medium onions, sliced in thick slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
4-5 large, blanched & peeled tomatoes
8 oz tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
2 bay leaves
8 oz package spaghetti
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Cook onions & garlic in olive oil until clear. Combine remaining ingredients, except pasta. Heat & cover, simmer for 45 minutes. Just before sauce is done, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain & serve pasta topped with chicken & sauce.

Tips & Tricks:
Canned tomatoes can be used in place of fresh. Make ahead extra chicken & reserve to use in this recipe the following day. The chicken & sauce can be prepared & frozen for future use. Simply cook pasta & thaw sauce on the day you plan to serve. You can also prepare this in a crock pot: rather than sauteing onions & garlic, omit oil & combine all ingredients, including raw (skinned & boned) chicken pieces in crock pot on low heat all day.

Make it Healthier:
Use chicken breast meat. Use reduced sodium tomato sauce & omit salt. Steam onions & garlic in microwave with water & omit olive oil. Serve with whole wheat pasta.

Skillet Macaroni Dinner

Prep: 40 Minutes
Yield: 6 Servings

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 29 oz can tomatoes
12 oz Whole kernel corn
1 cup macaroni
1 Tbs Chili Powder
2 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 cup shredded cheese

In large skillet brown hamburger & onion. Add tomatoes, corn and macaroni and cook, covered 30 minutes or until macaroni is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in chili & garlic salt. Sprinkle with cheese & heat, covered, 5 minutes.

Tips & Tricks
Use a nonstick skillet for easier clean up. I reduce the amount of beef to save money and increase veggies, using whatever happens to be in the fridge...half a jar of leftover green beans etc can be just added when you add the corn. If using fresh tomatoes, peel them by blanching in hot water, chop & add with a slight amount of water.

How Kids Can Help:
Kids can dump in ingredients, older kids can shred cheese.

Make it Healthier:
Use fresh garlic instead of garlic salt. Use low sodium tomatoes & corn. Use extra lean ground beef, or substitute lean turkey for all or part of the beef. Replace part of the ground meat with bulgur wheat to add fiber & whole grains.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saving Time and Money: Convenience Products

When people think of convenience items with respect to cooking and food, the general consensus is that convenient doesn't equal healthy. A lot of prepackaged foods are loaded with sugar, salt, fat, artificial coloring or additives that cancel out the quick and easy part. Lately though, I've been seeing more and more items in my local grocery store that don't live up to that junky reputation, and I've been experimenting with new foods.

As a mom to two small kids, I'm a big fan of anything that makes preparing meals quick while still maintaining a nutritious final product. While many convenience products cost more, sometimes the added cost is worth the time it saves you. If you watch your sales and use coupons, you can purchase groceries that will shave minutes off your food preparation for little to no extra money. The following list is just a sampling of some products that I love for their convenient nature.

  • The Laughing Cow Mini Babybel Cheese: I bought these for the first time for a ten hour car trip and was not disappointed. The cheese is not processed and is wrapped in individual waxed portions, making them perfect for lunches or an on-the-go snack. I bought them on sale and used a coupon, and the final price was exactly the same I would have paid for a block of cheese, which would then need to be sliced and wrapped.
  • Perdue Perfect Portions Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: There's no doubt about it, this item will cost you more than regularly packaged chicken breast, but again, if you wait for a sale and use a coupon, these individually wrapped chicken breasts can cost the same amount of money as meat that needs to be trimmed or separated. They're perfect for small families or single people, and come plain or seasoned with Italian spices, teriyaki flavor, or tomato and basil. They can be frozen, and baked without thawing them. I buy these every once in awhile when I can get the good price, and they come in handy because they can be cooked with very little effort. Toss a salad together and steam some vegetables while the chicken bakes, and dinner is ready in literally 15 minutes.
  • Instant Rice: Nutritionally speaking, instant rice is the same as non-instant rice. We eat brown rice, which takes 45 minutes in the microwave if I use the regular version, so being able to have rice quickly is a huge plus for me. If I precook meat in my crockpot, I can throw a stirfry together in ten minutes if I also use instant rice.
  • Canned Tomatoes: The store brand is almost always perfectly adequate, and this item is incredibly versatile. Buy the no-salt-added version to reduce the sodium in your diet, and if you are using canned tomatoes, also eliminate any additional salt a recipe calls for. Canned tomatoes can be used in soups, stews, sauces or chilis, in Spanish rice or in toppings for chicken. Buy them preseasoned or with chopped chilis also in the can.
  • Bagged Salad: Money-wise, bagged salad will cost about twice as much as fresh lettuce. I never buy bagged lettuce, but I do occasionally buy bagged spinach because it has been vigorously prewashed and contains no grit. If you are pinched for time, bagged lettuce can help save you precious minutes in getting dinner on the table. Look for buy-one-get-one-free sales.
  • Kashi Frozen Meals: Let's face it. Even the best of us have days when we just don't feel like cooking, or not enough time to cook a real dinner before rushing off to soccer practice or PTA meetings. Most frozen dinners are seriously lacking in the nutrition department, but I love Kashi's version. They don't contain enough calories for an entire meal, but are easily paired with salad or sliced fruit or baked potatoes or steamed vegetables. Compared to other brands, they are pricey, but you can get coupons for Kashi products through the website, and stock up when they go on sale.
  • Birds Eye SteamFresh Frozen Vegetables: I usually steam my veggies in my Pampered Chef Microwave Steamer, but if I'm in a super hurry, I buy these assortments that steam right in the bag in the microwave. It's not worth the extra money to buy the individual vegetables, but my favorite is the Asian Medley, which is exactly right for that ten minute stirfry.

What about you? What treasures have you found in your grocery store that help make cooking dinner easier?

Lemon Chicken With Pasta

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1-1/2 cups uncooked medium pasta shells
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
6 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large resealable plastic bag, combine the bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat.

In a large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, saute chicken in 4 teaspoons oil until juices run clear. Remove and keep warm.

In the same skillet, cook onion in remaining oil over medium heat until tender. Sprinkle with flour; stir until blended. Gradually stir in broth and lemon juice. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Drain pasta; toss with lemon sauce. Serve with chicken; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Tips and Tricks
Use whatever pasta you have on hand, tube ziti works just as well as shells. I used whole wheat flour to thicken the sauce. The prep is listed as 20 minutes, but it took me less time. Try flavored bread crumbs.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt. Serve with whole grain pasta.
How Kids Can Help
Shake bag to coat chicken. Measure ingredients. Sprinkle cheese.

Nutrition Facts
1 serving equals 428 calories, 12 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 66 mg cholesterol, 652 mg sodium, 46 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 33 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
3 starch, 3 very lean meat, 2 fat

Maryland Crab Soup

Recipe and Photo courtesy of The Buzz About The Bezeks

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Yield: 10 servings

1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, cut into small pieces
3 cups water
2 cups beef broth
1 cup frozen lima beans
1 cup frozen baby carrots or sliced carrots
1 cup frozen yellow sweet corn
2 tablespoons chopped onions
1 tablespoon OLD BAY Seasoning
1 pound lump crabmeat

Place all ingredients, except crabmeat, in 4-quart saucepan.

Bring to boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 minutes.

Add crabmeat; cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Tips and Tricks

Be sure to pick through the crabmeat to remove cartilage before adding to the soup. I prefer to use real crab meat when making soup, but some people prefer to substitute imitation crabmeat. The recipe is more authentic with real crabmeat. Buy diced canned tomatoes to save time. If you don't have Old Bay, substitute any other seafood seasoning. Buy frozen soup vegetables to save time. This is a great way to hide vegetables from kids if you chop them finely.
Make It Healthier
Use low-sodium broth and no-salt-added canned tomatoes. Use less Old Bay. Make the soup heartier by increasing the amount of vegetables.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients and pour into pot. Older kids can stir.
Suggested Sides
whole wheat rolls or crackers

Nutrition Facts
1 cup equals 101 calories, 682 mg sodium, 1 g fat, 12 g carbohydrate, 35 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 11 g protein

Hawaiian Hamburgers

Prep: 25 minutes
Yield: 8 Servings

2 lbs hamburger
3 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs corn starch
2 Tbs vinegar
1-15 oz can crushed pineapple
1/4 green pepper

Combine sugar, starch, & salt in a saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and heat to boiling on medium heat. Cook until thick, about 5 minutes. Add this mixture to hamburger. Serve over rice.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

White Lasagna

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 can chicken broth
1 lb. lasagna noodles
1/2 lb. shredded ham
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese

3/4 c. butter
1/2 c. flour
2 c. milk
1 c. heavy cream
Reserved broth
1 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. parsley
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. tarragon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Cook chicken breasts in broth. Cool and cut into bite-sized pieces, reserving broth. Cook noodles, adding 1-2 tablespoons oil to prevent sticking.

Sauce: Melt butter and slowly add flour, cooking until smooth. Remove from heat and slowly add milk. Add cream and reserved broth. Cook to boiling, stirring constantly. Add cheese, parsley and seasonings.

Assembly: Butter 9 x 13 inch baking dish and spread a little sauce on the bottom. Make 3 layers each of noodles, chicken and ham and sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until lightly browned.

Make It Healthier:
Substitute evaporated skim milk in place of cream.

How Kids Can Help:
Kids can help layer noodles & dump measured ingredients.

Chicken & Rice Salad

Prep: 30 minutes, plus chilling
Yield: 10 Servings

3 cups cooked long grain white rice
2 cups cooked, cubed chicken breast
2 cups crushed, drained pineapple

Combine & chill overnight, then add:

1 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 can drained mandarin oranges
1/3 cup chopped red pepper
3/4 cup green grapes, halved
1 cup roasted almonds

1 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs vinegar

Combine dressing ingredients and shake well, then toss through salad.

Tips & Tricks:
Do not use minute rice. This salad can be molded, but will require additional chilling to set. You can substitute turkey breast for the chicken with good results.

Make it Healthier:
Reduce oil & use brown rice in place of white.

How Kids Can Help:
Kids can add ingredients to mixing bowl.

Suggested Sides:
Garnish with red grapes & cantaloupe.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hot Chicken Salad

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

1-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
1 cup chopped celery
1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup seasoned salad croutons
1/4 cup slivered almonds, chopped and toasted
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1 tablespoon reduced-fat butter, melted
3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

In a small saucepan, whisk flour and milk until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat;cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, onion and salt until smooth. Whisk in the milk mixture. Stir in the chicken, celery, water chestnuts, croutons and almonds.

Spoon into a 2-qt. baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover and bake at 350° for 25 minutes.

Combine bread crumbs and butter; stir in cheese. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake, uncovered, 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through and cheese is melted.

Tips and Tricks
I omit the almonds and salt and celery, and instead of grating the onion, sometimes I just chop it very finely. Grated onion is very strong, so be sure not to use too much! Instead of mixing the yogurt and mayo in a separate bowl, I add those items straight to the saucepan I made the milk mixture in. Buy sliced water chestnuts to save time. Use whatever cheese you have on hand. The prep is listed as 25 minutes, but it takes me about half that time. You can also make the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it until ready to bake. I also premake the crumb topping and refrigerate that as well.
Make It Healthier
Use croutons that are trans-fat free and low in sugar and sodium. Omit the salt. Use fat-free yogurt. Use whole grain bread crumbs.
How Kids Can Help
Measure and dump ingredients. Spoon chicken mixture into dish. Mix bread crumb mixture. Older kids can grate cheese.
Suggested Sides
green salad, fresh fruit, steamed green beans

Nutrition Facts
3/4 cup equals 323 calories, 15 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 78 mg cholesterol, 592 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 29 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
3 very lean meat, 2-1/2 fat, 1 starch, 1 vegetable

Pineapple Cream Cheese Party Sandwiches

Prep: 20 minutes
Yield: 20 large sandwich pinwheels, or 60 appetizer size sandwiches

2 lb. cream cheese, softened
1 c. crushed pineapple, well drained
2 loaves rye bread, sliced thinly lengthwise (pre-order at bakery)

Cream together cheese & pineapple & spread on each lengthwise slice. Roll up each sandwich tightly as you would a jellyroll and fasten if necessary with toothpicks. Chill 1 hour before serving.

Tips & Tricks:
For prettier pinwheels, have the bakery pre-color the bread. If you don't have time to pre-order lengthwise slices, you can use cookie cutters to cut out tiny shaped sandwiches. For hors d'ovoures this yields about 30 tiny sandwiches per loaf.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New For August: Polls

Starting this month, be sure to participate in our monthly poll! See the sidebar to vote and view results. This month's poll, just in time for back to school, concerns how happy you are with the food offered in your children's cafeteria.

When I was a student, I rarely purchased my lunch. The lines were always so long that there wasn't enough time to buy the food and then eat it leisurely, and the healthfulness of the meals served was questionable. Soda machines were not available to students, but anyone could purchase prepackaged brownies, cookies, and other treats, and many of my classmates ate only those offerings for lunch.

Share with us your feelings about school lunches. Do you kids like to buy their lunch? Are the prices to buy lunch affordable? How do you feel about the timing and length of your child's lunch period? What sort of food is available to buy?

Check back in a month for our round up and discussion of the voting results and also to view the next poll.

Spotlight On Produce: Watermelon

As the dog days of summer are upon us, I thought this week's spotlight should be an item that is essentially summer. I'm not a fan of hot weather, for more reasons than I can list, but one of the things I look forward to is the bounty from the vegetable garden, and the pure and simple pleasure of eating a nice, juicy watermelon.

My favorite way to enjoy watermelon is sliced with the rind on, but it also performs well in fruit salads, or pureed and frozen as a sorbet.

Watermelon grow on vines on the ground and are related to cantaloupe, squash and pumpkin. They can be round, oblong or spherical with a green rind and range in size from one pound to over ninety pounds. Watermelon can be found year round, but they are sweetest and of best quality in the summer.

Watermelon is high in Vitamins C and A, as well as the antioxidant lycopene, which has been studied for it's cancer fighting properties. One cup of watermelon contains only 48 calories and is over 90% water, making it an excellent choice for quenching thirst.

When choosing a whole watermelon, look for one that is heavy for its size with a rind that is relatively smooth and that is neither overly shiny nor overly dull. In addition, one side of the melon should have an area that is distinct in color from the rest of the rind, displaying a yellowish or creamy tone. This is an indication that the melon was harvested at the proper time. When choosing cut watermelon, look for flesh with a deep color and no white streaks. If there are seeds, they should be deep in color as well. To prevent foodborne illness, wash the rind of the watermelon with soap and water before cutting into it.

What are some of your favorite ways to prepare watermelon?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Red Snapper With Black Beans

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon pepper, divided
1 to 2 drops hot pepper sauce
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 red snapper or grouper fillets (8 ounces each)
1-1/2 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

In a saucepan, combine the beans, onion, 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, 1/8 teaspoon salt, dash pepper and pepper sauce. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl, combine the flour and remaining salt and pepper. Dip fillets in flour mixture. In a large skillet, heat butter and remaining oil over medium heat. Cook fillets for 5-6 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Top with black bean mixture; sprinkle with cilantro.

Tips and Tricks
Use whatever kind of fish you prefer. I used tilapia. Fresh fish is best, but should you need to get rid of a "fishy" smell, place the fillets in a shallow dish, cover with milk, and let stand in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Discard the milk and cook as usual. I also used regular prepared mustard (by accident) and it tasted fine. I also used whole wheat flour to coat the fish, and I used a whole can of black beans and adjusted the other quantities to compensate. This recipe is intended for 2 people, but can be doubled or tripled for larger families.
Make It Healthier
Use unsalted butter or trans-fat free spread. Use whole wheat flour. Omit salt. Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray and use less olive oil and less butter.
How Kids Can Help
Rinse beans. Measure ingredients. Top fish with bean mixture. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Suggested Sides
twice-baked potatoes, green salad, sliced melon

Nutrition Facts
1 fillet with 1/3 cup bean mixture equals 469 calories, 19 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 92 mg cholesterol, 689 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 50 g protein

Friday, August 10, 2007

Peach Cobbler

Yield: 8 servings
Prep: 35 minutes including baking


4 cups peeled & sliced fresh peaches
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbs flour


1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbs brown sugar
4 tbs sweet cream butter, cut into pieces
2/3 cup buttermilk

1 tbs brown sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl combine filling ingredients & mix well. Pour into 1 1/2 quart greased baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes.

While the fruit is baking, combine dry ingredients for crust in a bowl. Cut in the butter to make coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk & stir to form a gooey dough.

Remove peaches from oven & drop rounded spoonfuls of dough on top. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tbs brown sugar and return to the oven for 20 minutes. Top will be golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Tips & Tricks:
To quickly peel peaches, blanch for 30 seconds in boiling water, then put into cold water. Skins will slip off.

To save washing another bowl, mix peaches & filling ingredients directly in baking dish.

How Kids Can Help:
Kids can help peel peaches. Kids can pour measured ingredients into the bowl.

Salsa Chicken

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (5 ounces each)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 small green pepper, julienned
1 cup salsa
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
2 tablespoons sour cream

In a small nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, brown chicken on both sides. Add the onion, green pepper, salsa and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in corn. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Sprinkle cheese over chicken. Serve with sour cream.

Tips and Tricks
I omitted the cheese and sour cream. Chunky salsa works best. Double this recipe for larger families.
Make It Healthier
Trim chicken. Use reduced-fat cheese and reduced-fat sour cream.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Pour salsa and corn over chicken. Older kids can shred cheese.

Nutrition Facts
1 serving (prepared with reduced-fat cheese and reduced-fat sour cream) equals 328 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 93 mg cholesterol, 743 mg sodium, 23 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 36 g protein

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Lemon-Peach Jam

Prep: 30 minutes, plus 24 hours setting
Yield: 15 cups

6 cups peeled, pitted & mashed peaches
9 cups sugar
2 boxes Pectin
1 1/2 cups water
4 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

Stir together peaches, juice, zest & sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes. Combine water & pectin & heat to a full boil, boil for 1 minute and add to peach mixture. Stir for 3 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into 1-2 cup freezer safe containers or jars& set at room temperature for 24 hours to set. Refrigerate & use within 3 weeks or freeze.

Tips & Tricks:
The riper the fruit, the softer the set will be, so I use a combination of fully ripe fruit (for a full flavored jam) and fruit that is very firm but no longer green.

Peel fruit quickly by blanching in hot water and then dunking in cold water. Peels will slip off.

How Kids Can Help:
Kids can help peel peaches & can push buttons on blender. Kids can help stir the jam.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Pioneer Buttermilk Doughnuts

This recipe belonged to Emily Dow Partridge Young, wife of Brigham Young. Because there was not a great variety of foods, when something was made it was generally made in quantity, and the original recipe was double this size. This recipe can be doubled or halved with good results.

Yield: 2 dozen doughnuts
Prep: 15 minutes, plus frying

2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
5 cups sifted flour
2 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 cup melted butter or shortening

Combine buttermilk, eggs, and sugar, and blend well. Beat in sifted dry ingredients, then stir in melted butter. Roll or pat dough on floured board about 1/4 inch thick and cut with a 2 1/2 inch doughnut cutter. Fry in hot fat (375 degrees) until golden brown. Drain & sprinkle with sugar, if desired.

Basil-Tomato Grilled Cheese

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

8 slices Italian bread (3/4 inch thick)
8 slices part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 large plum tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

On four slices of bread, layer cheese and tomatoes; sprinkle with basil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Top with remaining bread.

In a small bowl, combine the oil, Parmesan cheese and garlic powder; brush over the outsides of each sandwich. In a large frying pan, cook sandwiches over medium heat until golden brown on both sides.

Tips and Tricks
Use whatever bread you have on hand. In place of balsamic vinegar, I used red wine vinegar. Use extra-virgin olive oil if you don't like the strong taste of olive oil.
Make It Healthier
Use whole grain bread and part-skim cheese.
How Kids Can Help
Use cheese slicer to slice mozzarella. Layer ingredients on bread.

Nutrition Facts
1 serving (1 each) equals 467 calories, 27 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 34 mg cholesterol, 723 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 23 g protein

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Fudgy Brownies

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons reduced-fat vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, butter, yogurt and vanilla. Stir in egg until blended. Combine the flour, cocoa and salt; stir into sugar mixture. Transfer to an 8-in. square baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into eight pieces, then cut each diagonally in half.

Tips and Tricks
Double the recipe to fit the batter nicely into a 13 x 9 pan. Use the brownies as a base for an ice cream cake, or add chocolate chips. Be sure not to overbake to preserve the gooey middle. I replace half the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour.
Make It Healthier
Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed. Use unsalted butter or trans-fat free spread.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients and stir batter. Older kids can break the egg. Spread into pan.

Nutrition Facts
2 brownies equals 201 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 38 mg cholesterol, 93 mg sodium, 36 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
2 starch, 1 fat

Broiled Vegetable Sandwiches

These easy and tasty sandwiches are an easy way to use up garden plenty, and they require so little preparation time, they are perfect for those too hot to cook days.

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

6 slices peeled eggplant (1/4 inch thick)
1/2 cup sliced yellow summer squash (1/4 inch thick)
1/3 cup sliced zucchini (1/4 inch thick)
2 slices red onion (1/4 inch thick)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Dash cayenne pepper
2 hard rolls, split
5 teaspoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 fresh basil leaves
2 fresh spinach leaves
1 cup julienned roasted sweet red peppers
2 slices tomato
2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeno pepper
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Place the eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini and onion in a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Coat vegetables with nonstick cooking spray; sprinkle with Italian seasoning and cayenne. Broil 4-6 in. from the heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until tender and lightly browned.

Place rolls, cut side up, on an ungreased baking sheet. Broil for 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Spread roll bottoms with mayonnaise; layer with basil, spinach, red peppers, tomato and jalapeno. Sprinkle with pepper. Top with broiled vegetables; replace roll tops.

Tips and Tricks
I don't like eggplant, but when it is peeled, sliced thin and broiled, I can barely taste it. I omitted the roasted red peppers and the jalapenos. This recipe makes two sandwiches, but can easily be adjusted to feed a larger family.
Make It Healthier
Serve on whole wheat rolls.
How Kids Can Help
Arrange vegetable slices on broiler pan. Measure spices. Layer veggies on rolls.

Nutrition Facts
1 sandwich equals 290 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 4 mg cholesterol, 869 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 8 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
2 starch, 2 vegetable, 1 fat

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Spotlight On Produce: Broccoli

Growing up, my younger brother was well known for being an extremely picky eater. As my mom wouldn't make special meals, if he didn't like what she had cooked, he could fall back on cereal. He ate a lot of cereal!

Now that he's an adult, he's still a pretty picky eater, but one of his most favorite foods is broccoli, which has a reputation as being one of those green things that moms push on their kids. We like to tease him that he's going to turn into broccoli one of these days, but the truth is he couldn't have chosen a healthier favorite food.

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable of the cabbage family, with fleshy green flower head that grow from an edible stalk. Broccoli is high in soluble fiber, vitamins C, K and A, as well as calcium. One cup of broccoli contains only 43 calories.

Broccoli is readily available year-round, but the prime season for fresh broccoli is October through April. When choosing fresh broccoli, look for lively green leaves and firm, thin stalks. The florets should be compact, firmly closed, and of a deep green color. Broccoli is also available frozen.

Broccoli makes a colorful addition when served raw with vegetable platters, and is a mainstay in stirfrys and vegetable soups. Try adding it to lasagna or finely chopped in sauces, or serve it steamed with melted cheese sauce on top.

What are some of your favorite ways to prepare broccoli?

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Zippy Mexican Pasta Salad

Yield: 6-8 Servings
Prep: 20 minutes

8 oz Elbow Macaroni, uncooked
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chili sauce
2 Tbs vinegar
1-2 tsp Chili powder
1/2 tsp onion salt
4-5 drops hot pepper sauce
1 1/2 cups red kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup pitted ripe olives
1/4 cup sliced green onion

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water to cool quickly; drain well. Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine mayonnaise, chili sauce, vinegar, chili powder, onion salt, and hot pepper sauce. Add cooled pasta & remaining ingredients. Blend well. Cover & refrigerate until ready to serve.

Make it Healthier:
Use sodium reduced kidney beans, and onion powder instead of onion salt. Use whole grain pasta & add more veggies such as tomatoes & bell peppers for more nutrients. Use low fat sour cream instead of mayonnaise.

Classic French Onion Soup

Yield: 8 Servings
Prep: 40 minutes

8 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 Tbs dry red wine (optional)
4 cups beef broth
4 cans beef consume'
1/2 cup butter
8 slices Texas toast, toasted & cut into large circles the size of serving bowls
Freshly grated parmesean cheese

Melt butter in stock pot. Saute' onions until carmelized. Add wine & cook until liquor evaporates. Add consume & beef broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5-10 minutes. Pour into bowls & top with 1 slice bread on each bowl. Top with parmesean cheese & broil until cheese is browned.

Tips & Tricks:
Use a bowl to measure & cut Texas toast into the right size circles. If using cooking wine, be aware that alcohol must be cooked for an entire hour to cook out. I don't usually have an hour, or cooking wine on hand so I just skip that step with good results.

Make it Healthier:
Reduce butter & use low sodium broth. Use thick slices of toasted whole wheat bread in place of Texas toast.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Denny's Alien Pancakes

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My kids love Denny's Alien pancakes. They are so easy & so much cheaper to make at home!

Prep: 20 minutes to cook bacon, pancakes & assemble.
Yield: 4 Servings

4 6" pancakes
8 3" pancakes
4 strips bacon, cooked cut in half to make 8 strips
Canned Whipped Cream

Assemble aliens by connecting 2 3" pancakes to each 6" pancake with a strip of bacon. Make eyes & mouth with whipped cream.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Yield: 12 servings

4 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
4 medium red potatoes, cut into eighths
1 yellow summer squash, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 cup frozen cut green beans
1/2 cup quick-cooking barley
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
4 cups salad croutons
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, combine the first eight ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

Stir in the chicken, beans and barley. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until vegetables and barley are tender. Add tomatoes; heat through. Serve with croutons and Parmesan cheese.

Tips and Tricks
I use canned green beans, and add them a few minutes before the soup is finished so they don't get mushy. I used whatever potatoes I had on hand, and I omitted the celery. This soup is easy to customize to your family's tastes, simply omit any vegetables they don't like. This recipe also works well in a crockpot, and I have added pasta or rice in place of the barley as well. This soup also freezes well.
Make It Healthier
Use low-sodium broth and low-sodium canned tomatoes. Omit the croutons.
How Kids Can Help
Pour ingredients into pot. Older kids can open cans.

Nutrition Facts
1 serving (1 1/8 cups) equals 259 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 47 mg cholesterol, 523 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 20 g protein

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Paprika Beef Stroganoff

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

2 pounds boneless beef top round steak, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 large onion, sliced
1 large green pepper, cut into strips
1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1-1/4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth, divided
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
3/4 cup sherry or additional reduced-sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 teaspoons paprika
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 package (12 ounces) yolk-free noodles
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup (8 ounces) reduced-fat sour cream

In a large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook beef in 1 tablespoon oil until no longer pink; drain and set aside.

In the same skillet, saute onion and green pepper in remaining oil for 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms; cook for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Stir in 1 cup broth, tomato sauce, sherry or additional broth, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, paprika, bay leaf, thyme and pepper. Return beef to the pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes or until meat is tender.

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine flour and remaining broth until smooth; gradually stir into beef mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Discard bay leaf. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream until blended. Drain noodles; serve with stroganoff.

Tips and Tricks
Stroganoff recipes are usually too high in fat, but using lean meat and reduced-fat sour cream helps cut the fat content. I omit the bay leaf and serve the stroganoff over whatever pasta I have on hand. I also cook the meat in the crockpot with a cup of beef broth to help make it tender. Buy presliced mushrooms to save time.
Make It Healthier
Serve with whole wheat pasta. Use low-sodium tomato sauce.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Chop onion and pepper with Pampered Chef food chopper (see sidebar).

Nutrition Facts
3/4 cup stroganoff with 1 cup noodles equals 414 calories, 10 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 74 mg cholesterol, 360 mg sodium, 42 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 36 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
3 lean meat, 2-1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fat

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Garden Veggie Wraps

Prep/Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1/2 cup reduced-fat garlic-herb cheese spread
4 flour tortillas (10 inches)
1-1/4 cups chopped seeded tomatoes
1-1/4 cups julienned fresh spinach
3/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
2 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

Spread 2 tablespoons cheese spread over each tortilla. Sprinkle with tomatoes, spinach, red pepper, bacon and pepper. Roll up tightly.

Tips and Tricks

Try using different flavored tortillas for a unique taste. I use frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, if I don't have fresh spinach. If using fresh spinach (not the bagged variety), make sure to rinse it well, as spinach can be gritty. Substitute any kind of sweet pepper for the red pepper, or use thinly sliced carrots instead. Alouette makes a delicious cheese spread, but chive and onion cream cheese works as well and is usually cheaper. Cook the bacon in the microwave to save time and to avoid heating up the kitchen.
Make It Healthier

Use lean bacon and blot with paper towels once cooked. Use trans-fat free tortillas and spread.
How Kids Can Help

Push buttons on microwave to cook bacon. Spread cheese on tortillas and layer with ingredients.

Nutrition Facts
1 wrap equals 314 calories, 10 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 21 mg cholesterol, 614 mg sodium, 37 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 12 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
2-1/2 starch, 2 fat, 1 vegetable