Sunday, September 30, 2007

Aunt Peggy's Rice

I have no idea who Aunt Peggy is, but this is a family recipe I remember my Grandma making. I've changed the recipe, adding chicken & salsa.

Prep: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 Servings

6 cups cooked rice
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked & finely chopped
2/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 small can diced green chilis
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste
picante sauce or salsa for garnish

Blend together sour cream & mayonnaise, mix into rice and spread into casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, & garlic powder. Top with a layer of diced green chilis, followed by a layer of chicken. Top with cheese & bake until heated through & cheese is melted. Garnish with salsa.

Tips & Tricks
My grandma's recipe does not call for chicken, so for a meatless meal, you can easily omit the chicken. She also never garnished with salsa, but I think its a nice touch both visually & flavorfully. This is a good meal to use up leftovers-prepare by cooking extra rice next time you make a rice dish, and cooking an extra boneless skinless chicken breast.

Make it Healthier
Use reduced fat sour cream & reduced fat mayo, or replace either with nonfat plain yogurt. Omit salt & reduce amount of cheese. I use brown rice, but grandma always used regular white rice.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Spotlight On Produce: Leeks

Since I live in a large city and have several grocery stores to choose from, the chains tend to try and outdo each other with what they can offer, as to draw customers away from that other store. One store always has a hot dog and soda stand operating out front; another boasts a coffee shop, a bank and a dry cleaner inside. Most of the extras aren't thing I care about, but I have benefited from the expanded organic choices and a better variety of produce. One of my personal goals for this year was to try new foods, so this week I chose leeks.

Leeks are a root vegetable related to onions, shallots and scallions. In appearance, they look like overgrown scallions, with a small, white bulb and green leaves. In taste, they are sweeter and milder than onions, so they are perfect for adding a subtle taste to recipes without overwhelming the other flavors.

Leeks are a very good source of manganese and a good source of vitamin C, iron, folate and vitamin B6. Leeks have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol and improve good cholesterol.

When buying leeks, look for firm, white bulbs with straight, dark green leaves. and straight with dark green leaves and white necks. Leeks are available throughout the year, although they are in greater supply from the fall through the early part of spring. Fresh leeks will keep in the refrigerator for one to two weeks. Cooked leeks are highly perishable and should be consumed within a day or two.

Try sauteing chopped leeks in garlic and oil for a healthy side dish. Chop them and add to soups and stews and omelets for extra flavor.

What are some of your favorite ways to cook with leeks?

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 7-8 hours
Yield: 8 servings (2 quarts)

1 package (16 ounces) dried green split peas, rinsed
1 medium leek (white portion only), chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
4 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) vegetable broth
1-1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf

In a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until peas are tender. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Tips and Tricks
I omitted the bay leaf and used 1 TBSP dried parsley in place of fresh. If you don't mind this dish not being entirely meatless, use chicken broth. Allow extra time to cook the soup in case the split peas take extra time to become tender. This was a great dish for my kids. My picky son ate the broth and carrots, while my baby, who is just learning to feed herself, ate pieces of potato and carrot cut into cubes.
Make It Healthier
Use low-sodium broth.
How Kids Can Help
Measure spices. Pour broth into slow cooker. Push buttons on slow cooker.

Nutrition Facts
1 cup equals 244 calories, 2 g fat (trace saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 906 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrate, 16 g fiber, 17 g protein

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Creamy Chicken & Noodles

Prep: 20 minutes, Bake 40 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

3 cups egg noodles, uncooked
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked & shredded
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
2/3 cup water
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Pepper to taste
Crushed corn flakes for topping

Spread egg noodles in 9x13 casserole dish. Layer with chicken. Combine remaining ingredients except corn flakes & spread mixture over chicken. Top with crushed corn flakes & bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Tips & Tricks:
Plain yogurt can be substituted for sour cream, and bread crumbs can be used in place of corn flakes. Different cream soups can be substituted in place of mushroom or celery soup.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wild Rice Chicken Dinner

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 casseroles/6-8 servings each

2 packages (8.8 ounces each) ready-to-serve long grain and wild rice
2 packages (16 ounces each) frozen French-style green beans, thawed
2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
2 cans (8 ounces each) sliced water chestnuts, drained
2/3 cup chopped onion
2 jars (4 ounces each) sliced pimientos, drained
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pepper
6 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 cup slivered almonds, divided

Heat rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, combine the green beans, soup, water chestnuts, onion, pimientos, mayonnaise, milk and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken and rice; cook 3-4 minutes longer or until chicken is heated through.

Transfer half of the mixture to a serving dish; sprinkle with 1/2 cup almonds. Serve immediately. Pour the remaining mixture into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish; cool. Sprinkle with remaining almonds. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months.

To use frozen casserole: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Cover and bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until heated through.

Tips and Tricks
This recipe is a 'cook once, eat twice' recipe because it yields a casserole to eat and a casserole to freeze. Omit the pimientos if you don't have them. I leave off the almonds and instead of ready-to-eat wild rice, I use the quick prep boxed kind from Uncle Ben's.
Make It Healthier
Use reduced-fat mayo, reduced-fat milk and reduced-fat reduced-sodium cream soup.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Older kids can open cans.

Fresh Salsa

Prep/Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Baked tortilla chip scoops

In a small bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Serve with chips.

Tips and Tricks
Serrano peppers are hotter than jalapeno peppers, but not as hot as habenero peppers. Depending on how spicy you like your food, substitute different peppers to suit your tastes. Be sure to wear gloves while chopping and seeding hot peppers! My plum tomatoes seemed small, so I used 8 instead of 4. I also used one tablespoon dried cilantro in place of the fresh.
Make It Healthier
At 11 calories per serving, and a diabetic free food, this salsa is already a great addition to a healthy diet. Omit the salt to lower the sodium content. Serve with trans-fat free tortilla chips.
How Kids Can Help
Measure cilantro. Use food chopper to chop onions. Stir to mix ingredients.

Nutrition Facts
1/4 cup (calculated without chips) equals 11 calories, trace fat (trace saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 77 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, trace protein
Diabetic Exchange
Free food

Hamburger Noodle Casserole

This creamy and satisfying dish is similar to Hamburger Helper, without the processed cheese and salt content.

Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Yield: 10 servings

5 cups uncooked egg noodles
1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
2/3 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook beef and garlic until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, sugar, salt and pepper; heat through. Drain noodles; stir into beef mixture.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, ricotta cheese and sour cream until blended. Stir in half of the onions.

Spoon half of the noodle mixture into a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Top with cheese mixture and remaining noodle mixture.

Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with remaining onions.

Tips and Tricks
This recipe makes a lot of food, so I split it in half, using a little less than a pound of meat and one can of tomato sauce. Use whatever kind of cheese you have on hand. The prep also took less time than the original recipe called for.
Make It Healthier
Use whole wheat noodles. Omit salt. Rinse ground beef after browning to remove extra fat
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Stir cheese mixture. Layer ingredients in pan.

Nutrition Facts
1 cup equals 319 calories, 14 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 92 mg cholesterol, 635 mg sodium, 23 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 24 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
3 lean meat, 1-1/2 starch, 1 fat

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Spiderweb Eggs

This recipe is from Martha Stewart's Halloween issue. Serve these fun eggs for breakfast on Halloween or for a fun spooky snack!

Yield: 1 dozen eggs

1 dozen large eggs
8 cups water
2 cups frozen blueberries
salt & pepper

Place eggs in a single layer in a large saucepan, cover with water and blueberries. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, let stand 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs one at a time, and place on a folded kitchen towel. Lightly crack shell on one side with the handle of a whisk or wooden spoon. Transfer egg to medium bowl; cover with cooking water. Repeat with remaining eggs & cool completely in water in refrigerator.

Carefully peel shells from eggs. Serve with salt & pepper.

Tips & Tricks:
I didn't want to waste perfectly good blueberries, so I just added blue food coloring to the water. My blue eggs are brighter & lighter blue than Martha's results with blueberries. For eyeball eggs instead of spiderwebs, make eggs to resemble bloodshot eyes by using red food coloring instead of blue food coloring or blueberries.

How Kids Can Help:
Kids can help peel eggs.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Saucy Peach Chicken

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 can (15 ounces) sliced peaches in extra-light syrup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 cups hot cooked rice

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook chicken in oil over medium heat for 5-6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch and basil. Drain peaches, reserving syrup in a measuring cup; add enough water to measure 1 cup. Set peaches aside. Stir the syrup mixture, vinegar and soy sauce into the brown sugar mixture until smooth.

Remove chicken and keep warm. Stir syrup mixture and add to the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Return chicken to the pan. Add peaches; heat through. Serve with rice.

Tips and Tricks
I used peaches in concentrated juice rather than syrup. I also used red wine vinegar.
Make It Healthier
Serve with brown rice. Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Older kids can open peaches and drain.

Nutrition Facts
1 chicken breast half with 1/3 cup sauce and 1/2 cup rice equals 329 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 63 mg cholesterol, 510 mg sodium, 47 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 26 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
3 very lean meat, 2 starch, 1 fruit, 1/2 fat

Friday, September 21, 2007

Vegetable Barley Soup

With only 128 calories and one gram of fat per servings, this tasty soup is a great way to get your daily vegetable quota. Pair it with bread and a side salad for a filling meal.

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 8-9 hours
Yield: 12 servings

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1-1/2 cups fresh baby carrots, halved
1-1/2 cups frozen cut green beans
1-1/2 cups frozen corn
3 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups water
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) vegetable broth
1 cup medium pearl barley
1 bay leaf
1-3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) Italian diced tomatoes, undrained

In a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine the first eight ingredients. Stir in the water, broth, barley, bay leaf and seasonings. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until barley and vegetables are tender.

Stir in tomatoes; cover and cook on high for 10-20 minutes or until heated through. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Tips and Tricks
This recipe makes a large amount of soup, so if you have a smaller family, adjust the quantities to make a smaller batch. I omitted the bay leaf and celery and used chicken broth in place of the vegetable broth. For a heartier soup, add whole wheat noodles.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt. Use low-sodium canned tomatoes.
How Kids Can Help
Use food chopper to chop onions and peppers. Measure spices. Push buttons on slowcooker.

Nutrition Facts
1-1/4 cups equals 128 calories, 1 g fat (trace saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 812 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
1-1/2 starch, 1 vegetable

Dilled Stroganoff

Dried dill gives this creamy-yet-light dish a distinctive flavor.

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

1-1/3 cups uncooked whole wheat spiral pasta
1/3 pound lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3/4 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon ketchup
1-1/2 teaspoons dill weed
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium beef bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook turkey and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.

Add mushrooms; cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the water, ketchup, dill, bouillon and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes.

Stir in sour cream; heat through (do not boil). Drain pasta; serve with turkey mixture.

Tips and Tricks
This recipe is intended for two servings, but I used a pound of meat and doubled all the sauce ingredients to feed my family. Use whatever pasta you have on hand, and use ground beef if you don't have or like ground turkey. I also used regular sliced mushrooms.
Make It Healthier
If using ground turkey, make sure you buy lean ground turkey. Regular ground turkey contains dark meat, which is fattier. If using ground beef, buy lean ground beef and rinse it with water in a colander when it is browned. Use natural ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Stir in sour cream.

Nutrition Facts
2/3 cup meat mixture with 2/3 cup pasta equals 363 calories, 10 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 70 mg cholesterol, 355 mg sodium, 45 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 24 g protein

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Chicken Divan

This recipe was sent to me by my Grandma as a favorite. Enjoy:

Yield: 6 servings

2 packages frozen broccoli, chopped.
6 cups shredded chicken, cooked
2 cans 10 3/4-ounce cream of mushroom soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tsp curry powder
Salt and pepper
Optional: 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan, 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs (sprinkle both or either one on top)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Thaw frozen broccoli, drain. If you use fresh broccoli, cook for a couple of minutes and drain liquid off, and put into a 9 x 13 baking dish or whatever dish you like.
Put broccoli on the bottom of the dish. Add the chicken.
In a medium bowl, combine the soup, mayonnaise, sour cream, cheddar cheese, lemon juice, curry powder, salt and pepper to taste, add milk if desired. Whisk together to make a sauce. Pour the sauce over the broccoli and the chicken. Mix well with a spatula. Spread out evenly in your baking dish and top with the parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs if you desire to use them.
Cover dish with tin foil and bake in the preheated 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, depending on how large your meal is. Mine was done in 30 minutes. This is a very good meal.

Tips & Tricks from Grandma:
Cut chicken into small chunks. Use fresh broccoli in place of frozen, and stem before making the recipe to soften. For a thinner sauce, use 1 can of soup and a little milk. Reduce Mayo to one large tablespoon, and reduce sour cream as well. Salt & curry powder can be omitted. Grated mozzarella works well in place of parmesan or bread crumbs.

Suggested Sides:
Fresh corn on the cob, green salad, and a side dish of fresh sliced tomatoes to top off the meal.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

September Poll: Eating As A Family

My husband's work schedule allows us to eat as a family most nights. It's a luxury I know a lot of families don't have. Even if he's going to be late, I feed the kids, and then he and I sit down together to eat, or we all sit at the table and catch up while he enjoys his meal.

Once school starts back up and kids get involved in clubs and sports, it can be hard to sit down all together and have a meal.

Share with us. How often do you eat together? What are some of your tips for fitting in that special family time?

Leave us a comment, and of course, look for a poll round up at the end of the month!

August Poll Round Up: School Lunches

Our poll for August was all about school lunches. How healthy (or unhealthy) you find them, if you think they are priced reasonably, et cetera.

Fifteen of you voted and no one voted for "very happy." Five votes went to "somewhat happy," and the rest went to "not happy."

Reader Heather says, "I have five kids in school and am disgusted with school lunches. Many of the foods are pre-packaged junk food items (potato chips, rice krispy treats, etc.) or high carb (cinnamon rolls, pizza, corn dogs). Plus they allow the children to serve themselves so they don't have to put veggies on their plates. I once walked into the cafeteria and just saw sea of yellow foods on everyone's trays.I rarely let my kids buy lunches one because of how unhealthy they are and two because of the expense. If all of my children bought lunch every day it would cost me well over $125 a month. For much less I can offer healthy lunches made from home."

Contributor Jen mentioned that although schools are supposed to meet certain nutritional goals, the meals don't seem healthy at a glance.

A common complaint was the amount of time allotted for lunch and recess. In one county in my state, the lunch/recess period was shortened by 15 minutes. The lines for school lunch were so long, the kids didn't have time to eat leisurely and also enjoy outdoor time.

So what can you do? Write letters! Contact the school board or write to the school superintendent and let them know how you feel about the choices in the cafeteria. Does your child's school have vending machines where the students can access them? Lobby to have them removed. If all else fails, you always have the option to pack lunches for your kids. Get them involved in the process, take them shopping with you, to teach lessons about healthy eating. They might even discover a new favorite!

Thanks to all who participated in our August Poll!

Chicken With Creamy Jalapeno Sauce

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings/2 cups sauce

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups hot cooked rice

Sprinkle chicken with salt. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, brown chicken in oil on both sides.

Add the onions, broth, jalapenos and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170°. Remove chicken and keep warm.

Stir cream cheese and sour cream into onion mixture until blended. Stir in tomatoes; heat through. Serve with chicken and rice.

Tips and Tricks
I omitted the rice and made slightly less sauce. I also used one jalapeno to reduce the spiciness of the meal. Be sure to wear gloves with chopping and seeding the pepper!!!!
Make It Healthier
Serve over brown rice. Omit the salt.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Older kids can stir.

Nutrition Facts
1 chicken breast half with 1/2 cup sauce and 1/2 cup rice equals 376 calories, 13 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 83 mg cholesterol, 389 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 30 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
3 very lean meat, 2 vegetable, 2 fat, 1-1/2 starch

10 Minute Gyros

Prep: 10 minutes
Yield: 6 sandwiches

1 lb beef stir fry strips
2 tsp Greek seasoning
1 tbs vegetable oil (I always use extra virgin olive oil)
6 soft pita breads, warmed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup thin strips of cucumber
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup ranch dressing

Cut beef into small pieces & toss with greek seasoning. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add beef, half at a time and cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes or until browned. Divide beef between pitas, top with tomato, cucumber, and feta. Drizzle with ranch or serve with ranch on the side.

Tips & Tricks
Substitute leftover grilled meat (beef, chicken, or pork) for a quick meal made with leftovers. For those with a sensitive palate, who don't care for feta, use Monterey jack for a delicious alternative.

Cottage Cheese Faux "Rice" Pudding

This recipe is from Parents Magazine. It's a healthier alternative to classic rice pudding, packed with a punch of protein and calcium.

Yield: 1 large or 2 small servings
Prep: 5 minutes plus chilling 15 minutes

1 cup low fat small curd cottage cheese
1 tsp instant vanilla pudding mix
3 tbs milk
2 tsp raisins
pinch of cinnamon

In a medium bowl combine cottage cheese and pudding mix. Add milk and stir. Add raisins and cinnamon, stir again until all ingredients are evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Tips & Tricks:
This can be served as either dessert, after school snack, or as a healthy breakfast! A much better alternative to sugared cereals or processed snacks.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Try Something New: Tahini

What Is Tahini?
Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and is used to flavor many Middle Eastern foods, such as hummus or baba ghanoush (an eggplant spread). Its consistency is similar to peanut butter and is light brown in color. Tahini can be made from both hulled or unhulled sesame seeds. The hulled variety is milder in taste.

Why Should I Try It?
Tahini's nutty flavor is completely unique and can lend a boost to sauces, soups, dips and dressings.

What Are The Health Benefits?
Tahini is high in healthy fats such as mono and polyunsaturated fat, and low in saturated fat. It can be used sparingly as part of a heart healthy diet.

Where Do I Buy Tahini?
It is increasingly available in the ethnic aisle at grocery stores, and also through speciality grocers.

Tahini Roasted Vegetables
Lemony Hummus
Chickpea Patties With Yogurt Sauce

Chickpea Patties With Yogurt Sauce

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes per batch
Yield: 1 dozen cakes/1 cup sauce

1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained, divided
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dill weed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup (8 ounces) fat-free plain yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
Dash crushed red pepper flakes

Place half of the chickpeas and the onions in a food processor; cover and process until chopped. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in the bread crumbs, dill and lemon juice; set aside.

Place the tahini, salt, cumin, pepper and remaining chickpeas in food processor; cover and process until blended. Add to chopped chickpea mixture; stir to combine. Shape into 12 patties.

In a large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook patties in oil over medium heat in batches for 4-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine sauce ingredients. Serve with patties.
Tips and Tricks
Use regular onion in place of green onion. Try flavored bread crumbs for a different flavor.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Rinse beans. Measure spices. Older kids can shape the patties.

Nutrition Facts
2 patties with about 3 tablespoons sauce equals 159 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 1 mg cholesterol, 332 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 6 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
1-1/2 fat, 1 starch

Tahini Roasted Vegetables

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

1 medium eggplant, peeled
2 medium sweet red peppers
1 medium zucchini
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Cut the eggplant, red peppers, zucchini and onion into 1-in. pieces. Place in a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine the oil, tahini, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Drizzle over vegetables; toss to coat.

Bake, uncovered, at 450° for 25-30 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley before serving.

Tips and Tricks
If you don't like eggplant, substitute yellow squash. Use balsamic vinegar in place of rice wine vinegar. If you don't have fresh parsley, use 3/4 tablespoon dried parsley.
Make It Healthier
Omit the salt.
How Kids Can Help
Older kids can peel the eggplant with a vegetable peeler. Younger kids can measure the ingredients and layer veggies in baking pan.

Nutrition Facts
2/3 cup equals 91 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 203 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 2 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
2 vegetable, 1 fat

Lemony Hummus

Prep/Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pita breads, warmed and cut into wedges
Carrot and celery sticks
Process garlic in a food processor until minced. Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, water, tahini, cumin, salt and pepper; cover and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl. Serve with pita wedges and vegetables.

Tips and Tricks
If you don't have a food processor, use a garlic press and mash the beans very thoroughly by hand.
Make It Healthier
Serve with whole wheat pita bread. Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Press buttons on food processor. Measure ingredients. Rinse beans.

Nutrition Facts
1/4 cup (calculated without pita wedges and vegetables) equals 106 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 192 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
1 starch, 1/2 fat

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lemon Feta Chicken

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Place chicken in a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Pour lemon juice over chicken; sprinkle with feta cheese, oregano and pepper.

Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.

Tips and Tricks
Precrumbled feta will save time. Block feta is cheaper. Feta also freezes well, so I always buy the larger package and freeze what I don't use.
Make It Healthier
Trim fat from chicken,
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Sprinkle feta over chicken.
Suggested Sides
salad, steamed green beans

Nutrition Facts
1 chicken breast half equals 143 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 66 mg cholesterol, 122 mg sodium, 1 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 24 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
3-1/2 very lean meat, 1/2 fat

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Crock Pot Zuchinni Casserole

Prep: 10 minutes, plus 4 1/2 hours in crockpot or slowcooker
Yield: 4 servings

1 red onion, sliced
1 green pepper sliced in thin strips
4 medium zucchini, unpeeled, sliced
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients except butter and cheese. Place in a slow cooker and cook on low for 3 hours. Dot casserole with butter and sprinkle on cheese. Cook for 1-1/2 more hours on low.

Tips & tricks
I dot with butter & add cheese at the beginning with no problems. Fresh, peeled tomatoes (blanch in hot water) work as well as canned, and if you don't have sea salt, you can use regular. For a main dish, add diced chicken, browned ground beef, or stew meat.

How Kids Can Help:
Kids can add ingredients to the slowcooker. Kids can push buttons on the crockpot.

Make it Healthier:
Omit butter & salt. Use low fat cheese. You can also add more garden veggies such as summer squash, carrots, and beets.

Cream Cheese Potato Pie

Prep: 15 minutes, plus baking
Yield: 4 servings

1 egg, beaten
1 10 oz package cream cheese, softened
3 cups mashed potatoes
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons sweet basil
3/4 Teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Stir egg and cream cheese together until well mixed. Cream potatoes and milk together.
Add both these mixtures to the same bowl, along with bread crumbs and spices. Mix
until creamy and smooth. Turn into greased 8-inch pie pan and smooth out evenly. You can also
choose to make a nice pie crust to line the pan with, but it's just as good without the crust. Bake
at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until pie puffs up a little and starts to brown slightly. Remove from
oven, top with shredded cheese, and allow to cool before serving. Very filling, and kids love it!

How Kids Can Help:
Kids can measure & dump ingredients. Older kids can help grate cheese.

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

Prep: 10 minutes plus baking

Yield: 1 pie

2 cups mashed pumpkin
1 10 oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup milk or vanilla soymilk or ricemilk
3/4 cup chopped pecans
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup rum
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine all ingredients, pour into graham cracker crust. Bake at 325 degree for one hour, or
until a knife inserted in middle comes out clean.

Tips & Tricks:
I omit the rum with no ill effects.

How Kids Can Help:
Kids can help measure & dump ingredients, and take overwrap off store bought pie crust.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Spotlight on Produce: Pumpkin

Autumn is upon us! As we lead into 3 months of fall weather with Halloween and Thanksgiving just around the corner, plan your festivities around the pumpkin, a healthy, delicious and versatile member of the squash family!

In fact, many of your squash recipes can be substituted interchangeably with pumpkin! For those who are interested in saving money, watch for pumpkins to go on sale, and then serve them up mashed with gravy, cooked into soup, baked with butter & salt & pepper, or candied like yams for a delicious dish high in fiber, potassium, and alpha and beta carotene.

Pumpkins are believed to have originated in North America. Seeds from related plants have been found in Mexico dating back to 7000 to 5500 B.C.

Native American Indians used pumpkin as a staple in their diets centuries before the pilgrims landed. They also dried strips of pumpkin and wove them into mats. Indians would also roast long strips of pumpkin on the open fire and eat them. When white settlers arrived, they saw the pumpkins grown by the Indians and pumpkin soon became a staple in their diets. As today, early settlers used them in a wide variety of recipes from desserts to stews and soups. The origin of pumpkin pie is thought to have occurred when the colonists sliced off the pumpkin top, removed the seeds, and then filled it with milk, spices and honey. The pumpkin was then baked in the hot ashes of a dying fire.

Pumpkins and Halloween
The origin of Halloween dates back at least 3,000 years to the Celtic celebration of Samhain (pronounced "sow-ain"). The festival was held starting at sundown on October 31st and lasted until sundown on November 1st. It was similar to the modern practice of the New Years celebration.

On this magical night, glowing jack-o-lanterns, carved from turnips or gourds, were set on porches and in windows to welcome deceased loved ones, but also to act as protection against malevolent spirits. Burning lumps of coal were used inside as a source of light, later to be replaced by candles.

Samhain was not the name of a "Lord of the Dead", no historical evidence has ever been found to back this up, it was simply the name of the festival and meant "Summer's End". It was believed that the souls of the dead were closest to this world and was the best time to contact them to say good bye or ask for assistance. It was also a celebration of the harvest. It is still treated as such today by those who practice Wicca or other nature based religions. It has absolutely nothing to do with Satan, this inference was a creation of the Christian church.

When European settlers, particularly the Irish, arrived in America they found the native pumpkin to be larger, easier to carve and seemed the perfect choice for jack-o-lanterns. Halloween didn't really catch on big in this country until the late 1800's and has been celebrated in many ways ever since!

Fun Facts About The Pumpkin!

  • Pumpkins contain potassium and Vitamin A.

  • Pumpkin flowers are edible.

  • The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.

  • In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.

  • Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.

  • The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds.

  • The Connecticut field variety is the traditional American pumpkin.

  • Pumpkins are 90 percent water.

  • Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available in October.

  • Native Americans flattened strips of pumpkins, dried them and made mats.

  • Native Americans called pumpkins "isqoutm squash."

  • Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine.

Cooking With Pumpkins

Pumpkins can be used to make breads, cookies, cakes, cheesecakes and even main dishes! Soups and stews can be brewed or baked right in a pumpkin shell.

What is your favorite thing to do with pumpkins?

Pumpkin Cookies

Delicious Seasonal Cookies!

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup cooked, pureed pumpkin (fresh or canned)
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cashews, coarsely chopped
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla and mix well. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, & cinnamon. Stir into butter mixture until well blended. Add nuts and chocolate. Drop by teaspoonful onto very lightly greased baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake about 13-15 minutes, or until golden. Cool.

The great thing about these cookies is they stay soft even if you forget to cover them.

Pumpkin Bread

Autumn is upon us, and what better for Fall than a delicious Pumpkin Recipe?

Yield: 3 loaves
Prep: 15 minutes plus 1 hour baking

3 1/2 Cups Flour
1 1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Soda
3 Cups Sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup chopped cashews
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 Cups water
2 Cups cooked, pureed pumpkin

Grease & flour bread pans. Mix all dry ingredients. Stir in liquid. Add nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

How Kids Can Help:
Kids can dump dry ingredients. Kids can help grease pans.

Make it Healthier:
This bread is a great source of beta carotene. To make it even healthier, reduce sugar and replace oil in part or completely with unsweeted applesauce.

Pumpkin-Beef Stew

Dinner in a Pumpkin, anyone? This seasonal favorite is great for a potluck dinner. Use a 10-12 pound pumpkin, and be sure not to over bake!

  • 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules
  • 1 sugar pumpkin
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Place beef in the saucepan and cook until evenly brown. Mix in the water, potatoes, carrots, green bell pepper, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer approximately 2 hours.
  2. Dissolve the bouillon into the beef mixture. Stir in the tomatoes.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  4. Cut top off the pumpkin and remove seeds and pulp. Place the pumpkin in a heavy baking pan. Fill the pumpkin with the beef mixture. Brush outside of the pumpkin with remaining oil.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven 2 hours, or until tender. Serve the stew from the pumpkin, scraping out some of the pumpkin meat with each serving.
How Kids Can Help:
Kids can help clean out the pumpkin, and dump ingredients.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Crusty Soup Bowls

Yield: 8 large bread bowls

2 tbs yeast
2 cups warm water
1 tbs sugar
2 tsp salt
5 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in water. Add sugar, salt, and 3 cups of flour. Beat 3 minutes. Gradually add remaining flour to make stiff dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise until double. Punch down and divide into 8 pieces. Form each piece into ball and place on baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise until double in bulk. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Cool. Cut off tops, scoop out bread to make a bowl. Pour hot soup into bread bowl and serve.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Snicker Snack

This recipe was a favorite for trail mix when I was a Girl Scout.

Prep/Total Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 20 or more servings

6 cups Cheerios or other oat circles
1 can unsalted roasted peanuts
1 large box raisins
1 bag milk chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, mix the cereal, nuts and raisins. Pour the butter over the mixture and stir until coated. When cool, add the chocolate chips and stir. Store in an airtight container.

Tips and Tricks
Vary the nuts to please your family. Add shredded coconut for more sweetness. Be sure to let the butter cool before adding the chocolate chips; otherwise, they will melt.
Make It Healthier
Use unsalted butter or trans-fat free spread. Try carob in place of the chocolate.
How Kids Can Help
Push buttons on microwave to melt butter. Measure ingredients. Stir.

Eggplant Parmesan

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Yield: 10 or more servings

one medium eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons water
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 jars pasta sauce
2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Place the egg and water in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, pepper and garlic. Dip the eggplant in the egg mixture, then coat with the bread crumb mixture. In a large skillet, cook the eggplant in olive oil over medium heat until tender and coating is brown and crispy.

Pour one cup of pasta sauce in bottom of a baking pan. Layer eggplant in pan. Pour rest of sauce over eggplant slices. Top with mozzarella cheese.

Bake, covered, at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through. Remove foil and bake uncovered for 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

Tips and Tricks
Use more or less garlic depending on your tastes. Be sure to slice the eggplant thin enough or it will not be tender. This dish freezes well. You can also do the frying steps ahead of time and refrigerate the baking pan until ready to cook.
Make It Healthier
Use reduced-fat cheeses and low-sugar pasta sauce.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Sprinkle cheese. Older kids can layer eggplant in pan.
Suggested Sides
Italian bread, green salad

Citrus Salad

Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep: 15 minutes plus chilling

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp finely shredded lemon peel
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
3 large oranges, peeled and sectioned
1 large pink grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
1 medium green onion, sliced (2 tablespoons)
1 Tbs snipped fresh mint
4 cups shredded romaine lettuce (about 6 ounces)

1 For dressing, in a screw-top jar combine oil, sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice, and salt. Cover and shake well.
2 In a medium bowl place orange and grapefruit sections, onion, and mint. Pour dressing over and toss gently. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.
3 To serve, put romaine in a large salad bowl and top with fruit mixture; toss lightly. Serve immediately.

Baked Santa Fe Dip

Yield: 28 servings
Prep: 10 minutes, chill 24 hours, bake 25 minutes

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 cup light mayonnaise dressing or salad dressing
1 8-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained (3/4 cup)
1 4-ounce can chopped green chili peppers, drained
2 tsp finely chopped canned chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup sliced green onion
2 Tbs snipped fresh cilantro
3-4 cups vegetable dippers such as sweet pepper wedges and sliced jicama
1 bag lightly salted tortilla chips or baked tortilla wedges

1 Stir together cheeses, mayonnaise or salad dressing, corn, chili peppers, chipotle chili peppers, and garlic powder in a large mixing bowl. Spread mixture into a 9-inch quiche dish, shallow one-quart casserole, or 9-inch pie plate. Cover and chill up to 24 hours. Combine tomato, green onion, and cilantro. Cover and chill up to 24 hours.
2 To serve, bake cheese mixture in dish in a 350 degree oven about 25 minutes or until heated through. Spoon tomato mixture in the center. Serve with vegetable dippers and tortilla chips.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Catalina Salad Dressing

1 10 oz can tomato soup
6 oz water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbs mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Pour soup, water, vinegar, oil, and sauce into blender. Mix well. Add sugar, salt, pepper, mustard, and garlic powder. Blend on high speed for 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved.

Serve over green salad. Store leftovers in refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.