Friday, November 30, 2007

Kids Can Make: Caramel Sandwich Cookies


Prep: 30 minutes
Yield: 25 sandwich cookies

2/3 cup flour
1 roll sugar cookie dough
20 caramel candies
1 tbs water

Preheat oven to 375. Knead the flour into the cookie dough until its smooth. Roll the dough into small (half-inch) balls and flatten slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a microwave safe bowl with water. Heat for 30 seconds, stir & heat again just until smooth.

With a small spoon, add a drop of caramel to the back of a cookie and place another cookie on top.

How Mom Can Help:
Preheat oven, handle hot cookie sheet in & out of oven.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Creamy Seafood Dip

I served this dip at my daughter's first birthday party and it was a huge hit! The original recipe seemed entirely too rich and fatty, so I lightened it up.

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Yield: 17 servings

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 can (6 ounces) small shrimp, rinsed and drained
1 can (6 ounces) crabmeat, drained, flaked and cartilage removed
2/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 round loaf (1 pound) sourdough bread
Assorted fresh vegetables

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, mayonnaise and mustard. Stir in the shrimp, crab, 1/3 cup Monterey Jack cheese and onions. Cut the top fourth off the loaf of bread; carefully hollow out bottom, leaving a 1/2-in. shell. Cube removed bread; set aside.

Spoon seafood mixture into bread shell. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Wrap tightly in heavy-duty foil and place on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Unwrap; bake 20-25 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and dip is heated through. Serve with vegetables and reserved bread cubes.

Tips and Tricks
I omitted the bread bowl to save calories and instead served the dip in a miniature crockpot. The crockpot also eliminated the oven time. I used fat-free cream cheese and instead of the full fat mayo, used half light mayo and half fat free plain yogurt.
Make It Healthier
See above tips for lightening the recipe. If serving with bread, use whole grain bread.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Older kids can beat the cream cheese and mustard. Spoon dip into bread bowl or crockpot.

Vegetable Pasta Salad

Most pasta salads are too greasy for my tastes. This version is extremely light on the dressing, while also being loaded with vegetables!

Prep: 20 minutes + chilling
Cook: 15 minutes
Yield: 10 servings

8 ounces uncooked tricolor spiral pasta
3 small tomatoes, chopped
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 cup each chopped celery, sweet red pepper, zucchini and carrots
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the vegetables, vinegar, basil, oil, sugar, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.

Drain pasta and rinse in cold water; stir into vegetable mixture. Add Parmesan cheese and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Tips and Tricks
Use a veggie chopper to chop the vegetables. I used red wine vinegar in place of the balsamic vinegar. I also substituted green pepper for the red pepper.
Make It Healthier
Use whole wheat pasta. Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Use veggie chopper. Measure spices. Rinse pasta.

Nutrition Facts
1 cup equals 108 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 4 mg cholesterol, 352 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
1 starch, 1/2 fat

Friday, November 23, 2007

Crescent Ring With Bacon And Chicken

Prep: 20 minutes

Bake: 25 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

2 tubes (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls
1 can (10 ounces) chunk white chicken, drained and flaked
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Italian salad dressing mix

Grease a 14-in. pizza pan. Unroll crescent roll dough; separate into 16 triangles. Place wide end of one triangle 3 in. from edge of prepared pan with point overhanging edge of pan. Repeat with remaining triangles along outer edge of pan, overlapping the wide ends (dough will look like a sun when complete). Lightly press wide ends together.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Spoon over wide ends of dough. Fold points of triangles over filling and tuck under wide ends (filling will be visible). Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown

Tips and Tricks

This recipe was from a Simple and Delicious magazine, and while I kept the basic idea the same, I lightened it up significantly. I used reduced-fat crescent rolls. In place of 3/4 cup mayo, I used 3/8 cup light mayo and 3/8 cup fat-free plain yogurt. I reduced the amount of bacon, and I blotted the bacon to remove excess grease before adding it to the filling. I did use canned chicken, in the interest of time, but in the future, will cook and cube my own chicken (this method is also cheaper). I used Monterey Jack cheese in place of Swiss, banana peppers in place of sweet red pepper, and Good Seasonings salad dressing mix for the Italian dressing mix required. This filling would also be good with ham. You can also prepare this dish ahead of time and refrigerate until you are ready to bake it.

Make It Healthier

Use light mayo and replace half the recipe calls for with plain yogurt. Use reduced fat crescent rolls and reduce the bacon. Try adding finely chopped carrot or broccoli to the filling to up the vegetable quota.

How Kids Can Help

Older kids can open the can of chicken. Younger kids can use a vegetable chopper to chop the peppers and onions.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Meatless Chili

This hearty chili only uses one pot! Easy clean up!

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium zucchini, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
3 tablespoons cornmeal
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cans (one 28 ounces, one 14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
8 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
8 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
8 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro

In a Dutch oven, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in zucchini and carrots. Add the cornmeal, chili powder, paprika, sugar, cumin and cayenne; cook and stir for 1 minute.

Stir in tomatoes and beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Garnish each serving with sour cream, green onions and cilantro.

Tips and Tricks
If you don't have fresh garlic, use 3 teaspoons of garlic powder. I coarsely chopped the zucchini and carrots and they cooked through easily, although chopping them finely will hide them better from vegetable haters.
Make It Healthier
Use no-salt-added canned tomatoes. Omit sour cream.
How Kids Can Help
Older kids can open the cans. Younger kids can rinse the beans and measure the spices.

Nutrition Facts
1-1/4 cups equals 254 calories, 3 g fat (trace saturated fat), 3 mg cholesterol, 466 mg sodium, 47 g carbohydrate, 12 g fiber, 13 g protein

Broccoli Quiche Pie

This recipe uses wheat bread in place of a prepare pie crust, reducing the total fat and calories. Delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Prep: 10 minutes
Bake: 35 minutes
Yield: 5 servings

6 large eggs, beaten
1 10 oz box frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup 1% milk
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 slices 100% whole wheat bread, torn into 1/2 in cubes

Coat a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the bread crumbs over the bottom of the pie plate. Mix the eggs, broccoli, cheeses, milk, mustard and garlic powder in a bowl. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread crumbs and press gently to create a level surface. Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and center is firm. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Tips and Tricks
If you're watching your cholesterol, use egg substitute. I used full fat sharp cheddar and reduced the amount of both cheeses.
Make It Healthier
Use skim milk. Use Omega-3 eggs.
How Kids Can Help
Shred and arrange the bread cubes. Older kids can beat the eggs and shred cheese.

Nutrition Facts
one serving equals 230 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 430 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 20 g protein

Monday, November 19, 2007

Skillet Cabbage Rolls

Here is another delicious & hearty meal idea from Jen38 at Mythbuster Beauty. She created this recipe by combining a recipe from an Armenian friend with one in Good Housekeeping magazine. It was a huge hit with her family.

1 head of cabbage

½ pound ground pork

1 lb. ground beef

1 onion chopped

2 green bell peppers (1 chopped and one left whole)

2 apples

3 tbs. fresh chopped cilantro

1 tbs. Fresh Parsley or Basil

1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

1 8.8 ounce package of precooked Rice Pilaf (if you use uncooked rice, just add more water to the pot)

Reserve 1 cup of the cabbage water

In a large pot, place cabbage in boiling water to soften leaves.

In a medium size bowl combine and mix:




½ grated apple

½ chopped onion

½ chopped bell pepper

Chopped cilantro

Chopped basil or parsley

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

½ chopped onion

1 cup of diced tomatoes with juice

In a large skillet or dutch oven:

Pour remaining can of tomatoes on the bottom of pan.

Add the remaining chopped onion, cilantro, apples, and peppers.

Remove at least 8 leaves from cabbage, fill with meat mixture and wrap into bundles.

Place cabbage rolls in the dutch oven.

Pour 1 cup of cabbage water on the rolls, and top cabbage rolls with a can of tomato sauce, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover & simmer on medium low heat for 1 hour.

Tips & Tricks:

Hollow out an apple & a green pepper to simmer with cabbage rolls as well, for an authentic Armenian treat.

Ginger Chicken & Broccoli

Prep: 25 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs minced garlic
2 tbs minced ginger
6 green onions, finely sliced to 1/2 way up the stalk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 pkg frozen broccoli
1/8 cup corn starch

Saute chicken in oil with garlic, green onions, ginger, & pepper. Meanwhile, combine teriyaki sauce, corn starch, brown sugar, water,and salt and stir until starch & sugar are dissolved. When the chicken is cooked through, add broccoli & stir fry until heated through. Cover with teriyaki sauce mixture & heat until thickened. Serve over rice.

Tips & Tricks:
Start rice cooking when you start cooking chicken, so it will all be ready at the same time.

Suggested Sides:
Egg drop soup

Saturday, November 17, 2007

December Poll: How Healthy Does Your Family Eat?

I admit that I used to eat pretty much whatever I wanted. I've always led a pretty active lifestyle. I played sports in high school and college and have held jobs that required a decent amount of walking, lifting or other physical activity. But when my first child was born, I wanted the baby weight gone and I wanted it gone yesterday, if you know what I mean. In addition, once we introduced solid foods, I wanted to be sure that I fed my baby the healthiest foods available. I started reading food labels and cutting unhealthy choices out of our diets.

That baby turned three a couple of months ago and his sister is about to turn one. I've maintained my label reading and nutrition and nutrition science have become a personal interest. I credit my interest in nutrition for an easier recovery period.

One of my favorite magazines has an occasional feature where a registered dietitian goes shopping with families and critiques their choices, then helps them make better choices for those areas they fall short on.

I think my family would do well. We eat a lot of fresh and frozen produce, avoid white flour and trans-fats, buy organic when we can and watch the sugar and salt contents of our meals. We use a lot of low-fat or fat-free products and eat lean meat and fish, and well as vegetarian meals once or twice a week. However, I have a pretty hefty diet soda habit that I'm working on quitting and I have a bit of a sweet tooth. My husband has the willpower to eat a handful of chips and put the bag back, but I don't. To get around the temptation, I buy chips in flavors that I don't like, and I try to buy treats that give me more bang for the calories. Strawberries with a squirt of fat-free whipped cream, for example, instead of a candy bar. And although I read a lot about nutrition and try new foods often, the amount of information out there is staggering, so it can be hard to remember all those facts when I'm grocery shopping with two little kids.

If a dietitian went shopping with you, how do you think you would do? Overall, how healthy does your family eat? What are your downfalls?

October/November Poll Round Up: Time Spent Cooking

Sixty of you voted in our last poll! Thanks for your participation!

The poll was about how long you take on a typical night to cook dinner. Many moms don't have hours to spend in the kitchen cooking from scratch, but many convenience items are too high in fat or salt. 65% of voters spend 30-60 minutes cooking dinner. This is also the category I fall into, although I tend to prefer meals that require little active preparation. I also store shredded cheese and prechopped peppers and onions in my freezer for those nights when I don't have a lot of time. 15% of you spend more than an hour, another 15% spend 15-30 minutes cooking and just 3 voters chose the 'less than 15 minutes' option.

My co-blogger Jen says, "I spend about 30-45 minutes usually. Sometimes as little as ten. I always try to cook extra chicken, then I refrigerate it to use in a casserole later in the week. That cuts down on cooking time. Same thing with rice, cook extra and your casserole is easier tomorrow.I glance over my meal plan to be most efficient. I start thawing meat in the microwave while I clean the kitchen (I cook faster in a clean kitchen). Cook noodles while grating cheese/cutting veggies, etc. I never do just one thing at a time, and I recruit [my husband] and the kids to do whatever they can."

Jen38 says, "I love my crock pot. After my DH complained that the roasts weren't big enough, I bought the 8 quart Kitchen Aid Deluxe Model! I usually spend 20 - 30 minutes cooking for the dinner meal. I always try to make extra for lunch the next day. Rarely do we have leftovers anymore!"

Kelly says, " My husband is often away for work, and I work full time, so I rely a lot on convenience type food. Not really the healthiest stuff, but it comes together quick and that is what I need. I probably spend less than 15 minutes a night cooking dinner." Be sure to check out this post on healthy convenience products, Kelly, and thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to vote in our next poll and look for a round up next month!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pumpkin And Corn Soup

This tasty and easy soup has 5 grams of fiber and only 120 calories per serving! Pair it with fresh bread and salad to warm up a chilly evening.

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Yield: 7 servings

1 large onion, chopped
1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups fresh or frozen corn, thawed
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) vegetable broth
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons lime juice

In a large saucepan, saute onion and red pepper in butter until almost tender. Add the corn, jalapeno, garlic and chili powder; saute 2 minutes longer.

Stir in the broth, pumpkin, salt and cayenne until blended. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice.

Tips and Tricks
I omitted the salt and used chicken broth. Be sure to wear gloves when seeding and chopping the pepper!
Make It Healthier
Omit the salt. Use low sodium broth. Use unsalted butter or trans-fat free spread.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Older kids can open the cans.

Nutrition Facts
1 cup equals 120 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 9 mg cholesterol, 714 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
1 starch, 1/2 fat

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Spinach Fritatta

Prep/Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 large eggs, separated
One 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and wrung dry
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a medium skillet, cook the garlic in oil until tender. In a bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks and stir in the spinach and ricotta cheese; season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Fold in the egg whites.

Pour the mixture into the hot skillet and cook over medium heat until just set around the edges, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the frittata to the oven and bake until golden and fluffy, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese all over the top and bake for 2 minutes.

Tips and Tricks
Be sure to use an oven safe skillet! An easy way to wring spinach dry is to put it into a potato ricer and press the liquid out of it. This recipe works well as breakfast OR dinner!
Make It Healthier
Reduce amount of Parmesan cheese. Omit salt. Use reduced-fat ricotta.
How Kids Can Help
Older kids can beat the egg whites.

Chicken and Broccoli Braid

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
2 teaspoons dill weed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup reduced-fat plain yogurt
2 tubes (8 ounces each) refrigerated reduced-fat crescent rolls
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon slivered almonds

In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Stir in mayonnaise and yogurt. Unroll both tubes of crescent dough onto an ungreased baking sheet; press together, forming a 15-in. x 12-in. rectangle. Seal seams and perforations. Spoon filling lengthwise down the center third of dough.
On each long side, cut dough 3 in. toward the center at 1-1/2-in. intervals, forming strips. Bring one strip from each side over filling; pinch ends to seal. Repeat. Pinch ends of loaf to seal. Brush with egg white; sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is heated through.
Tips and Tricks
The few times I have made this, the center of the crescent rolls didn't cook all the way through in 20 minutes, so I would recommend cooking at a lower temperature for a longer period of time so the braid cooks thoroughly without burning. I also used green pepper and full fat cheese, but I used sharp cheddar. The stronger flavor means you can use less cheese overall. I also used thawed frozen broccoli and omitted the almonds. The prep took a lot less than 25 minutes.
Make It Healthier
Omit the salt.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Unroll crescent rolls. Mix and spread filling.
Nutrition Facts
1 slice equals 338 calories, 16 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 40 mg cholesterol, 723 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 19 g protein

Chicken With Orzo Pasta

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) stewed tomatoes, cut up
1 can (15 ounces) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (16 ounces) frozen broccoli florets, thawed

Cook orzo according to package directions. Cook chicken in 2 teaspoons oil for 6-7 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove and keep warm.
Cook garlic in remaining oil until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, Italian seasoning and salt. Bring to a boil. Stir in broccoli and chicken; heat through. Drain orzo; stir into chicken mixture.
Tips and Tricks
This recipe works best with a small pasta, so if you don't have orzo, use rice or barley. It also makes a lot, so I split the recipe in half.
Make It Healthier
Use low-sodium stewed tomatoes. Omit salt. Serve with whole wheat pasta.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Rinse beans.

Nutrition Facts
1-1/2 cups equals 342 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 42 mg cholesterol, 589 mg sodium, 49 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 25 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
3 vegetable, 2 starch, 2 very lean meat, 1/2 fat

Friday, November 9, 2007

Italian White Bean Soup

Prep: 25 minutes
Yield: 4-5 servings

1 Tbs extra virgin Olive Oil,
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 15 oz cans white kidney beans, undrained
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp sage, dried
1/2 tsp basil, dried
salt to taste
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped or frozen chopped spinach
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan, sauté the garlic and onions for 2 to 3 minutes. Add celery, carrots, sage, basil, beans, water and salt. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add black pepper and spinach. Simmer 2 minutes.

Tips & tricks:
For a smoother soup, or if your kids don't like beans, puree soup in a blender before adding pepper & spinach.

How Kids Can Help:
Kids can dump ingredients into the soup. Kids can tear spinach.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mom's Cranberry Salad

This recipe was submitted by Jen at Mythbuster Beauty. Check her out!

1 lb. fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
2-3 oranges or tangerines
2 apples
1 cup pecans or walnuts
1 cup crushed drained pineapple
2 small boxes Orange, Lime, Raspberry Jell-O
1 1/2 hot cups water for each box

Clean and chop all fruit into small chunks, no need to peel the apple. Dissolve Jell-O with hot water and combine extra sugar.

In a blender:

Pour 1/4 of jell-o, fruit, and nuts and lightly puree. I recommend doing this is four parts because otherwise it can be extremely messy. Pour blended mixture into a serving dish. Continue until all is combined and then place in fridge to set up.

This is a very fresh and delicious homemade cranberry sauce!

Ding Dong Cake AKA Chocolate Dream Cake

This recipe is from Riverbend Ramblings, and I can't wait to try it!

1 box Devil's Food cake mix
1 tub chocolate fudge frosting
1 8 oz. tub whipped topping (I use Cool Whip Light--it still tastes the same.)
1 box white chocolate instant pudding mix

Prepare the cake mix as directed on the package for 8" or 9" round cake pans. Allow the layers to cool completely.

Fold the pudding mix into the whipped topping. Spread the topping on one of the cake layers. Place the other cake layer on top.
Microwave the tub of frosting until it stirs easily. All microwaves heat differently, but it should take 30-60 seconds. Pour the frosting over the cake. I let it drizzle all down the sides.

Tips & Tricks:
The picture above actually came from here. My cake turns out pretty much the same, but I usually just let the frosting drizzle down over the sides of the cake so that the white filling can still be seen. There's also a recipe for this cake made totally from scratch, but I'm all for shortcuts if the end result tastes great. :) I use a Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker mix, as they seem more moist to me than the store brand mix. You can use whatever you prefer.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Try Something New: Panko

What Is Panko?
Panko are Japanese bread crumbs. They are flakier and coarser that traditional bread crumbs, making them perfect for coatings and toppings.

Why Should I Try It?
The panko crumb has more surface area than traditional bread crumbs, so they get crispier and stay that way longer. Panko crumbs are generally not used as filler in meatloaf or meatballs.

What Are The Health Benefits?
Pan-frying foods when using panko means you can use less oil, and when using it as a casserole topper, you can use less butter.

Where Do I Buy Panko?
Panko is available at Asian markets, but is also available in the international section of many chain grocery stores.

Chive Crab Cakes
Peanut Crusted Chicken
Coconut Shrimp

Chive Crab Cakes

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

4 egg whites
1 egg
6 tablespoons minced chives
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 to 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cans (6 ounces each) crabmeat, drained, flaked and cartilage removed
2 cups panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
2 tablespoons canola oil

In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg whites and egg. Add the chives, flour, pepper sauce, baking powder, salt and pepper; mix well. Fold in crab. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Place bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. Drop crab mixture by 1/4 cupfuls into crumbs. Gently coat and shape into 3/4-in.-thick patties. In a large nonstick skillet, cook crab cakes in oil in batches over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Tips and Tricks
Omit the pepper sauce if you don't care for spicy food. Fresh crabmeat works well also. These crab cakes are perfect for appetizers, or serve them with a salad and fresh fruit for a light meal.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Older kids can shape crab cakes.

Nutrition Facts
2 crab cakes equals 242 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 136 mg cholesterol, 731 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 29 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
4 very lean meat, 1 starch, 1 fat

Peanut Crusted Chicken

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon minced fresh gingerroot
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
1/2 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the first six ingredients; add chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

In another large resealable plastic bag, combine the bread crumbs, peanuts, paprika and pepper. Drain and discard marinade. Add chicken to crumb mixture, one piece at a time, and shake to coat.

Place in a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until juices run clear.

Tips and Tricks
I use dried ginger. Substitute another type of vinegar if you don't have rice vinegar. I also use less garlic.
Make It Healthier
Trim fat from chicken.
How Kids Can Help
Add ingredients to bag, turn to coat. Shake chicken in crumb mixture.

Nutrition Facts
1 chicken breast half equals 197 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 63 mg cholesterol, 267 mg sodium, 8 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 26 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
3 very lean meat, 1 fat, 1/2 starch

Coconut Shrimp

These crispy-coated shrimp require some extra prep time, but they're worth it!

Prep: 1 1/4 hours + marinating
Cook: 15 minutes
Yield: 5 servings

1 can (14 ounces) light coconut milk, divided
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1-1/4 pounds uncooked medium shrimp
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 egg whites
3/4 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
3/4 cup flaked coconut, lightly toasted
1/3 cup reduced-sugar apricot preserves
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard

Place 2 tablespoons coconut milk in a small bowl; cover and refrigerate. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the jalapeno, cilantro and remaining coconut milk. Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails on. Add to bag; seal and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place flour in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg whites. In a third bowl, combine bread crumbs and coconut. Drain and discard marinade. Dip shrimp in flour and egg whites, then roll in crumb mixture.

Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 7-9 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Meanwhile, for dipping sauce, add preserves and mustard to the reserved coconut milk. Serve with shrimp.

Tips and Tricks
Coconut milk should be in the international section of your grocery store. If you can't find it, use regular milk. Be sure to wear gloves when chopping peppers. Fresh cilantro is best, but if you don't have it, substitute 1TBSP dried cilantro.
Make It Healthier
This recipe already uses egg whites. Shrimp are high in cholesterol, but are also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Enjoy in moderation!
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Turn bag to coat. Older kids can coat the shrimp in crumb mixture. Mix dipping sauce.

Nutrition Facts
about 10 shrimp with 5 teaspoons sauce equals 324 calories, 11 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 168 mg cholesterol, 316 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 23 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
3 very lean meat, 2 starch, 2 fat

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pork or Chicken Cutlets with Mornay Sauce

This is a family favorite at my house!

Prep: 40 minutes
Yield: 8 Servings

8 Pork Chops
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour, divided
1/2 cup water
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 6 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs butter
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put flour less 2 tbs in a shallow dish. Dip pork chops in egg & coat with flour. Brown in oil over medium heat. Add water, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, reserving drippings. Arrange pork chops in 9x13 baking dish & set aside.

Combine tomato sauce, lemon juice, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Spread over each pork chop.

Mornay Sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine pork drippings, butter & 2 tbs flour, heat while stirring. Slowly add milk & 1/2 cup grated cheese. Add nutmeg, cayenne pepper, and salt. Cook until cheese is melted & mixture thickens slightly. Pour Mornay sauce over pork chops.

Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese onto each chop. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees until cheese is melted.

Tips & Tricks:
In a pinch you can use ketchup in place of tomato sauce mixture. Boneless, skinless filleted chicken breasts can be used in place of pork chops.

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

Make it Healthier:
Omit salt & butter. Reduce oil & cheese. Replace drippings in Mornay sauce with 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth.

Suggested Sides:
Baked potatoes & green beans.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Macaroni And Cheese Soup

Another recipe from Parents Magazine.

Prep/Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

one box (32 oz) low-sodium chicken broth
6 oz. small shells
1 bag frozen cauliflower, broccoli and carrot mix
1 1/2 cups lowfat milk
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In a stockpot, bring the broth to a boil and add the shells. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the vegetables and cook until tender, about 6minutes.

Mix the milk and flour until smooth, then add to broth/veggie mix. Cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Adding the cheese in batches, stir until melted and heated through.

Tips and Tricks
This soup is very thick. It would make a great filling for a pot pie. Just add chicken! I used spiral pasta instead of shells.
Make It Healthier
Use reduced fat cheese. I used sharp cheddar, because it's sharper taste means you can use less cheese and save on calories and fat.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Pour pasta into pot. Older kids can shred cheese.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ooey Gooey Caramel Chocolate Dip

Prep: 10 minutes

1 package caramels (about 50)
1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
apple or pear wedges, pretzels, cookies, angel food cake for dipping

In microwave safe bowl combine caramels, milk, chocolate chips, and vanilla. On 30% power melt together by cooking for 1 minute at a time, stirring in between and repeating until completely melted. Stir until well blended. Serve warm with apple or pear slices, pretzels, cookies or angel food cake to dip.

How Kids can Help:
Kids can measure & dump ingredients, kids can unwrap candy.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Chicken or Portabello Mushroom Parmesan

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep: 30 minutes

3 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
24 ounces chicken cutlets (8 cutlets, 3 ounces each)
1 1/2 cups Marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Stir the oil and herbs in a small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Brush both sides of the cutlets with the herb oil. Heat a heavy large oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add the cutlets and cook just until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the skillet from the heat. Spoon the marinara sauce over and around the cutlets. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of mozzarella over each cutlet, then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of Parmesan over each. Drop the butter pieces atop the cutlets. Bake until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Tips & Tricks:
For a meatless meal, portobello mushrooms can be used in place of chicken.

How Kids Can Help:
Peel the herbs from the stems. Measure olive oil, add herbs and brush on each side of the chicken. Grate mozzarella cheese.

Suggested Sides:
Green salad, Garlic bread

Spotlight On Produce: Cranberries

Halloween is over, officially kicking off the holiday season. You know what comes dinners! Thanksgiving! Christmas! Feasts!

It's the best time of year to buy fresh cranberries, just in time to turn them into breads and sauces for the holidays.

Cranberries are a cousin of the blueberry. Bright red with a tart flavor, cranberries grow wild on shrubs, and on vines when cultivated. American cranberries are larger than the European variety.

A nutritional powerhouse, the cranberry has long been valued to treat and prevent urinary tract infections. More recent research indicates that cranberries are an invaluable asset in promoting gastrointestinal health, have positive effects on cholesterol, prevent formation of kidney stones and may prevent cancer. They are also high in Vitamin C and dietary fiber.

The peak growing season for cranberries is October through December. Dried or frozen berries are available through out the year. When buying fresh cranberries, look for firm fruit with a bright, uniform color. The best berries will have the brightest hue. Fresh cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator for several months, and once frozen, will keep for several years. Once thawed, the berries will be soft and should be used immediately.

Use cranberries in fruit salads. Balance the tartness of the berries by combining with sweet fruits. Replace the vinegar in salad dressings with a handful of cranberries. Replace raisins in breads and muffins with dried cranberries, and be sure to enjoy that Thanksgiving staple, cranberry sauce!

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

Tarragon Seasoned Chicken

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

3 cups uncooked pasta
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
3/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
3 tablespoons sherry
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Cook pasta according to package directions. Sprinkle chicken with tarragon and lemon-pepper. Over medium-high heat, brown chicken in butter on both sides. Remove and keep warm.

In the same skillet, saute mushrooms and garlic until tender. Add 1 cup broth and sherry, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Return chicken to the pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 7-10 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Remove chicken and keep warm.

Combine flour and remaining broth until smooth; stir into pan juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream. Drain pasta; serve with chicken and sauce.

Tips and Tricks
4 cloves of garlic is a lot. I used less. If you don't have or don't like sherry, sunstitute additional chicken broth. Buy presliced mushrooms to save time.
Make It Healthier
Serve with whole wheat pasta. Trim fat from chicken. Use unsalted butter or trans-fat free spread.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Pour pasta into pot.

Nutrition Facts
1 chicken breast half with 1/4 cup sauce and 3/4 cup noodles equals 379 calories, 9 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 116 mg cholesterol, 454 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 33 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
3 lean meat, 2-1/2 starch

White Beans and Veggies With CousCous

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

1 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can (15 ounces) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked couscous

In a large skillet, saute the zucchini, onion and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in the beans, tomatoes and seasonings. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

In a saucepan, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil. Stir in couscous. Cover and remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes or until water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Serve with bean mixture.

Tips and Tricks
Use the microwave to prepare the couscous. I also used Italian-style diced tomatoes and omitted the additional basil.
Make It Healthier
Use whole wheat couscous. Use unsalted butter or trans-fat free spread. Use low-sodium canned tomatoes.
How Kids Can Help
Rinse beans. Measure spices.

Nutrition Facts
1 cup bean mixture with 3/4 cup couscous equals 350 calories, 8 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 8 mg cholesterol, 521 mg sodium, 60 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 13 g protein