Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hard Rock Cafe's Alfredo Sauce

Yield: 18 cups

1 gallon heavy cream
2 Tbs dry basil
2 Tbs dry oregano
1 1/2 tsp freshly-ground white pepper
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs chicken base
3 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups Parmesan cheese
6 oz roux, at room temperature


Place heavy cream, spices and chicken base in the steam kettle. Mix with a wire whip to blend well. Bring to a boil. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Continue stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Add the roux and continue stirring until it is totally incorporated. Continue to heat the Alfredo sauce until it thickens, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Tips & Tricks:
Freeze leftovers for later use.

Suggested Serving:
Serve with Hard Rock Cafe' Chicken Penne Pasta, or over noodles, cannelonni, or in your favorite Alfredo dish.

Hard Rock Cafe's Blackened Chicken Penne Pasta

Yield: 5 servings

5 oz chicken breast, marinated
1 Tbs Cajun chicken seasoning
10 oz penne pasta
6 oz Hard Rock Cafe's Alfredo Sauce,
2 oz fresh spinach leaves
2 oz tomatoes, diced
1 Tbs Parmesan parsley
5 slices garlic toast

Season both sides of marinated chicken breast with Cajun chicken seasoning. Grill chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Slice chicken on the bias to yield 5 or 6 pieces.Place penne pasta and Alfredo sauce in 2-quart Cambro (The sauce should be added cold). Place lid on top and microwave for 1 minute. Swirl pasta and sauce to coat mixture evenly. Microwave for 1 minute or to an internal temperature of 140 degrees.Remove lid and add fresh spinach leaves and diced tomatoes. Replace lid and swirl mixture to achieve even consistency. Remove top and unload Cambro into large bowl. Top pasta with chicken. Sprinkle Parmesan parsley over chicken and pasta. Cut toast on the bias and place on rims of bowl.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Skillet Sausage and Rosemary Potatoes

Prep: 20 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 cups diced red potatoes
1 small onion, diced
1 lb pork sausage
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
2 tbs chopped parsley (fresh)
salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add potatoes and cook until slightly brown, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion, cook until tender. Add crumbled sausage; cook until browned. Add spices, salt & pepper, cook and stir until well blended.

How kids can help:
Kids can help measure & dump ingredients.

Suggested Sides:
Fresh fruit & cottage cheese.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Chicken & Corn Chili (with vegetarian alternative)

This recipe is courtesy of Rapunzel from Rapunzel's Castle.

Makes: 6 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: Slow-cook for 4 hours on HIGH, 6 hours on LOW

Ingredients

* 1 large onion, chopped
* 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
* 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
* 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
* 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped
* 1-3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with jalapenos, drained
* 1-1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
* 2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
* 2 tablespoons stone-ground cornmeal
* Shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Directions

1. In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine onion, chicken, low-sodium broth, green pepper, jalapeno, 1-1/2 teaspoons of the cumin, 1/4 teaspoon of the cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 6 hours.

2. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool slightly. Shred the chicken and return it to the slow cooker with remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of the cumin and cayenne, and the tomatoes, corn and beans. Gently mash some of the beans against the side of the bowl to thicken the chili. Stir in the cornmeal and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let sit a few minutes to soften the cornmeal. Serve sprinkled with a little of the Monterey Jack cheese.

Tips & Tricks:
I substituted vegetable broth for the chicken, Morningstar Farms Chick'n Strips for the real thing so that the vegetarians will enjoy it as well as the carnivores.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Salsa Chicken

Yield: 4 servings
Prep: 15 minutes

4 Chicken Breasts, grilled
1 cup salsa
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

Place chicken in a baking dish and top each with 1/4 cup salsa. Sprinkle with grated cheese & bake until cheese is bubbly.

Tips & Tricks:
Make extra chicken & reserve 4 breasts to make this recipe later in the week. This is super easy & delicious! Experiment with different types of cheese. Bagged salad & boughten or leftover rolls make this a meal that is ready with minimal prep.

Suggested Sides:
Green Salad & Rolls.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Wassail

Prep: 30 minutes
Yield: About 20 cups

1 gallon apple cider
27 whole cloves
8 cinnamon sticks
1 quart pineapple juice
1 can (6 ounce) frozen orange juice concentrate

Put all ingredients in a crock pot & simmer for 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Tips & Tricks:
Garnish each mug with a slice of orange. You can even toss quartered citrus fruits into the crock pot, peels & all.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Pumpkin Penne Pasta


Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings


Salt
1 pound whole wheat penne rigate
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, grated
2 cups chicken broth
One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 pinches ground cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
Pepper
7 leaves fresh sage, thinly sliced
Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.

While the pasta is working, in a medium skillet, cook the shallots and garlic in oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, pumpkin and cream. Add the hot sauce, cinnamon and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sage.

Toss the pasta with the sauce and top with the cheese.

Tips and Tricks
This makes a LOT of pasta, so split the recipe if you're cooking for a smaller crowd. I omitted the sage and used regular Parmesan cheese. I thought the sauce was bland at first, but when topped with cheese, it becomes something special! Next time I will add more cinnamon. I used Ronzini whole grain pasta as well, so this is a high fiber meal.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt. Serve with whole wheat or whole grain pasta.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Stir sauce. Older kids can grate cheese.

Tandoori Chicken


Prep: 5 minutes + marinating
Cook: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 Tbsp water
Mix the last seven ingredients together to make a paste. Rub paste into chicken and let sit 20 minutes. Grill over medium heat until cooked through.
Tips and Tricks
The paste turned out to be more watery, so I just poured it over the chicken and let it sit in a bowl. I also cooked the chicken in a skillet, but if you do this, I'd add a little oil too, because I didn't at first and I set off the smoke detector.
Make It Healthier
Reduce or omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Measure spices. Pour over chicken.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Prep: 30 minutes
Bake: 10-15 minutes per batch
Yield: 52 cookies


1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
1 pkg. (6 oz.) white baking chocolate
12 hard peppermint candies, crushed


Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add flour and baking soda; mix well. Blend in semi-sweet chocolate.


Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into 52 balls. Roll each ball into 3-inch-long rope. Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheet, bending top of each slightly to resemble a candy cane.

Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 min. or until lightly browned; cool 5 min. on baking sheet. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely. Microwave white chocolate as directed on package; drizzle over cookies. Sprinkle with crushed candies. Let stand until chocolate is firm.

Tips and Tricks
The dough is easier to shape if you refrigerate it briefly. Crush the candies in a resealable plastic bag to avoid messes. To make these cookies more chocolatey, drizzle additional melted chocolate over the top.
Make It Healthier
Use unsalted butter or trans-fat free spread. Use reduced-fat cream cheese.
To lighten it up, use reduced-fat cream cheese and trans-fat free spread in place of butter.
How Kids Can Help
Older kids can use the mixer. Younger kids can dump ingredients into a bowl, press buttons on microwave and crush candies.

Fajita Quesadillas

These delicious stuffed tortillas can serve as an appetizer, a snack or a main course. Serve them with salsa & sour cream or guacamole, and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Prep: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 Servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 cup quartered, sliced onion

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into thin strips
1 package Taco Seasoning Mix
10 (6-inch) flour tortillas,
2 1/2 cups monterey jack cheese
1/3 cup water
1 cup green or red bell pepper strips
1 medium tomato, peeled & chopped


Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add chicken; cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Stir in seasoning mix and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; Add tomatoes and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until mixture thickens. Spread 1/2 cup fajita mixture on one tortilla; sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Place second tortilla evenly over mixture. Heat remaining oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Place quesadilla in skillet; cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cranberry Cesear Salad

Prep: 10 minutes

Romaine Hearts
Craisins
Ken's Steakhouse Creamy Cesear Salad Dressing
Fresh Grated Parmesean Cheese
Croutons
Grilled Chicken (optional for a main dish salad)

Tear lettuce & toss with salad dressing. Add craisins, chicken, grated cheese & croƻtons & toss well.

How Kids Can Help:
Kids can add ingredients to salad & older kids can help toss.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Italian Sausage and Pasta Bake

Prep: 30-40 minutes
Yield: 6 Servings

8 oz ziti or mostaccioli pasta, cooked & drained
1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can tomato paste
2 tsp dried basil
2 cups shredded Italian Blend cheese

In a skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until browned on all sides. Drain, add onion garlic and peppers. Cook for 5 minutes or until sausage is cooked through and vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and tomato paste, mix well. Stir in pasta & basil, transfer to a 9x13 baking dish, cover & bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Uncover, top with cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Tips & Tricks:
For a colorful dish, use a combination of red, yellow, and/or green bell peppers. Italian blend cheese is a mix of mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan, Romano, fontina and Asiago cheese. You can substitute with a combination of any of these cheeses or just use mozzarella. (I usually just use mozzarella & Parmesan, because that is what I have on hand.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Make And Freeze: Three Cheese Potatoes

These easy and yummy potatoes are great alongside beef dishes, and leftovers go great with eggs for breakfast!

Prep To Freeze: 15 minutes
Prep/Total Time To Cook: 40 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

5 large potatoes, peeled
1/2-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2-1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
pepper
1/2 cup milk (Please Note! The milk is only needed when you are ready to cook the dish!)

Using a box grater, grate the potatoes. Place on paper towels and pat until dry. Mix with shredded cheeses and season with pepper to taste.

Place into a gallon size freezer bag and seal, squeezing extra air out. Label bag, then place inside a second gallon size freezer bag and seal. Freeze flat for easier storage.

To Cook: Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Add 1/2 cup milk to bag and mix contents. Pour contents into a greased baking pan and bake uncovered at 400 for 20 minutes. Stir potatoes, then bake an additional 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Tips and Tricks
Buy preshredded cheese if time is a factor. Block cheese that you shred yourself is cheaper.
Make It Healthier
Use skim or lowfat milk. Use reduced-fat cheddar and part-skim mozzarella.
How Kids Can Help
Older kids can grate the potatoes. Younger kids can stir in the cheeses.

Chocolate Soup and Caramel Cinnamon Toasts

My daughter asked for chocolate soup for dinner tonight. Eris provided this recipe for your enjoyment. It is from Global Gourmet.com.

2 servings, 4 toasts


My version of a dessert soup, this isn't thick, but it's very rich and creamy and absolutely delightful for a Valentine's Day dessert--or if you just want something indulgent in cold weather. Because there are so few ingredients, everything you use must be fresh and of the highest quality. Use the best chocolate you can find, as that is the chief flavoring here. This soup should be made just before serving; you can chop the chocolate in advance, however, and the rest of the preparation is so quick and easy (it's done in the microwave) that you'll have no trouble. If you want to serve this with the optional caramel-cinnamon toasts, make the toasts first, then let them stand at room temperature while the soup is prepared. If you don't want to make the toasts, that's fine, too; serve the soup with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream, with perhaps a plate of fresh raspberries, strawberries, or orange sections on the side.

I like to use bittersweet or semisweet chocolate for this dessert. I have made it successfully with milk chocolate, but the color tends to be rather light, and there's not enough of a real chocolate "hit" for my taste. A nice touch here is to add a couple of spoonfuls of chocolate-hazelnut spread to the chopped chocolate before you add the hot cream, a trick that lends a distinct mellowness. Alternatively, you can add a tablespoon of a compatible liqueur to the soup, just before you divide it among the bowls. Incidentally, you'll need a 12 ounce bowl for each serving, and it's best if your bowls are white or light-colored.


Soup:
4 ounces best-quality bittersweet OR
semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Few grains salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream


In small microwaveable bowl, combine finely chopped chocolate and salt. In microwave oven on high power, heat milk and cream in two-cup heatproof liquid measure just until simmering. Pour about one-third of this hot liquid (reserve remainder) over the chocolate. Allow to stand for a minute or two, then stir or whisk gently until smooth. Gradually stir or whisk in remaining milk/cream mixture, blending well. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Reheat soup in microwave at medium (50%) power just until very hot. Divide among bowls. Garnish as desired; serve immediately.

To make without a microwave oven, place chopped chocolate and salt in small heatproof bowl. Heat milk and cream in small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very hot. Proceed as directed above. To heat soup until very hot, place bowl over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl), and stir often until hot. Proceed with hot soup as directed above.


Caramel-Cinnamon Toasts

4 slices firm-textured challah
or other white bread, each about
1/2 inch thick, trimmed of crusts
1-1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 Tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
A large pinch or two of ground cinnamon

For Frying:
An additional teaspoon of unsalted butter


If you want to get fancy here, you can cut the trimmed bread slices with a cookie cutter; I use a circle that measures 3-1/2 inches in diameter. If you don't want to use a cutter, that's fine, but your trimmed bread slices shouldn't be larger than about 3-3/4 inches on a side.

In small cup, combine softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. with spoon, cream until well-mixed. Divide evenly among bread slices; spread butter mixture on one side of each slice just to the edges.

I recommend a nonstick griddle or frying pan to cook these; it should be large enough to hold all the slices in a single layer. Melt the teaspoon of butter in your griddle/pan over medium heat. Place bread slices, buttered side up, in the pan. Fry 2 to 3 minutes, or until a light golden brown on the underside (check the slices frequently, and move around in the pan if necessary to promote even browning). During this time, the cinnamon mixture on top of the slices will melt--OK. When slices are browned on bottom, flip each over so that the slices are cinnamon mixture side down. Once in contact with the hot griddle/pan, the cinnamon mixture will soon start to bubble and caramelize. Check the slices often, frying only until they are a light golden brown on the cinnamon mixture side (watch carefully--this can take less than a minute!). As you remove the slices to a cooling rack, turn them over so that the side with the cinnamon mixture is now the top again. Let stand while you prepare the soup.

Note:
You can put these on a plate when you remove them from the pan, but if you do the bottoms will become slightly soggy as they stand.

Make And Freeze: Beef Roulade

Prep To Freeze: 15 minutes
Prep/Total Time To Cook: 60 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

1 1/2 pounds flank steak, pounded 1/2 inch thin
3 Tbsp garlic cream cheese
1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/2-1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Spread the flank steak out flat. Spread the cream cheese over the meat, then sprinkle the spinach, sundried tomatoes, panko, garlic powder and pepper over the cream cheese. Starting with a long side, roll the meat up and secure with cooking string.

Place into an aluminum baking pan and cover. Label and freeze. Use within 2 months.

To Cook: Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Roast at 400 for one hour. Let rest for ten minutes. Cut cooking string with kitchen shears, slice and serve.

Tips and Tricks
To minimize contamination with the raw meat, spread out plastic wrap underneath your meat. Position the cooking string on top of the plastic wrap, then place the steak on top. I use my potato ricer to easily squeeze the spinach dry.
Make It Healthier
Use low-fat cream cheese.
How Kids Can Help
Sprinkle spinach, panko and sundried tomatoes over meat.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Risotto-Style Chicken With Asparagus

This is another freezer meal from Let's Dish.

Prep To Freeze: 10 minutes
Prep/Total Time To Cook: 20 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

3 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed
1 cup instant rice
3 Tbsp chicken base
2 teaspoons minced garlic, or 2 cloves, finely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup fresh asparagus, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 ounces cream cheese (Let's Dish provided small packets like you might see at a bagel shop)

Place the chicken, rice, chicken base, garlic, pepper and olive oil into a gallon size freezer bag. Seal the bag, making sure to squeeze the air out. Mix the contents.

In another small bag (sandwich size), combine the asparagus, red bell pepper and cheese. Seal and mix.

Place the bacon in another sandwich bag and seal. If you are not using a premeasured packet of cream cheese, wrap the correct quantity in foil.

Place the chicken bag, the vegetable bag, the bacon bag, and the cream cheese into another gallon size freezer bag. Label and seal. Freeze flat for storage. Use within two months.

To Cook: Set the cream cheese out to soften while you cook the rice mixture. Place the frozen rice mixture into a skillet or wok. Add two cups water to the empty bag, shake it to remove any residue, then pour the water into the skillet. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked. Stir cream cheese and contents of the vegetable bag into the rice mixture. Cook for 5 minutes or until cream cheese is melted and asparagus is tender. Sprinkle with bacon before serving.

Tips and Tricks
This recipe is easily divided into two meals, just cut the ingredients in half and make two sets of everything. If asparagus is not in season, substitute broccoli or green beans. The directions advise leaving the rice mixture frozen, but it was so solid, I let it sit out to thaw a little before cooking. Chicken base can be found with the chicken bouillon at the grocery store, but if you don't wish to use this, try a combination of chicken bouillon, cornstarch and parsley. To make this dish vegetarian, use vegetable base, and replace the chicken with sliced mushrooms and water chestnuts.
Make It Healthier
Use brown rice. Use fat-free or reduced-fat cream cheese.
How Kids Can Help
Kids can measure the water and sprinkle the bacon on top.

Nutrition Facts
one serving equals
Calories 358
Fat Cal. 127
Total Fat 14g
Sat. Fat 4.9g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholest. 72mg
Sodium 404mg
Total Carb 29.3g
Dietary Fiber 1.5g
Protein 28.4g

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fusilli with Yellow Tomato Sauce

Prep: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1/2 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup chopped basil leaves
16 oz fusilli (spiral pasta) cooked & drained
grated parmesean cheese

In skillet melt butter over medium heat and cook onion & garlic, stirring occasionally until softened. Stir in tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally 5 minutes or until tomatoes soften but do not lose shape, and sauce thickens slightly. Stir in basil and salt & pepper to taste. Toss with hot fusilli and sprinkle with cheese.

Tips & Tricks:
In a pinch, use dried garlic & basil. Red tomatoes can be used in place of yellow, and if you don't have fusilli, try linguine.

Make it Healthier:
Use smart balance margarine to lower saturated fat & cholesterol.

Yummy Ways To Prepare Veggies

My son is super picky, and he went through a phase where he didn't want to eat any vegetables at all. Luckily, it was short lived and he eats much better now, but there are still some veggies he won't eat.

Many kids and a lot of adults fall short of the eight servings of vegetables recommended by nutritionists, and one of the biggest reasons is because people don't like the way vegetables taste. Fortunately, there are easy ways to dress up those same old carrots. Here are some ideas from Prevention magazine for preparing vegetables so they taste good, yet maintain their healthfulness.

POTATOES

Twice baked potatoes with broccoli: Scoop the flesh out of baked potatoes, mash with steamed broccoli and cottage cheese, then stuff filling back into skin.

Low-fat potato salad: Toss steamed, quartered new potatoes with green beans and dress with honey mustard and olive oil.

Gnocchi: Check the refrigerated section at the grocery store for these pasta made with potatoes. Serve with steamed peas and pesto.

If you don't like potatoes, try cauliflower. The texture is similar, and it makes a great base for cream soups.

CARROTS

Honey Carrots: Steam carrots until just tender. Add butter and honey for a sweet side dish.

Sandwich Topping: Finely shred carrots and mix with peanut butter, then spread on whole grain bread for a crunchy sandwich.

Carrot fries: Slice carrots lengthwise and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 450 for 30-40 minutes for a nutritious twist on french fries.

If you don't like carrots, try butternut squash. This vegetable becomes sweeter when you cook it. Or slice it and toss it into stews, soups or pasta dishes.

TOMATOES
Insalata caprese: Serve sliced tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Roasted Tomatoes and Chicken: Quarter plum tomatoes, coat with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400 for 20 minutes. Serve over grilled chicken.

Southwestern rice: toss brown rice with canned diced tomatoes and chilies. Serve with shredded cheese.

If you don't like tomatoes, try red bell peppers. Serve raw with dip, or roast with onions, or puree to add to sauces.

BROCCOLI
Dips: Microwave florets until tender and serve with ranch dressing or melted cheddar cheese.

Vegetable salad: Microwave florets and let cool, then combine with grape tomatoes, lemon juice and olive oil.

Pasta Salad: Combine florets with penne pasta and chicken tenders, then top with marinara sauce and red pepper flakes.

If you don't like broccoli, try asparagus. Wrap asparagus in chicken breasts and bake, or chop and steam, or coat in olive oil and roast.

CORN
Polenta: Top cooked polenta with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Chicken salad: Steam frozen corn, cool and combine with black beans, cooked chicken, scallions, olive oil, lime juice and garlic powder.

Creamed corn: Mix frozen corn with canned cream corn, bake until set and sprinkle with cheese.

If you don't like corn, try peas. Add to rice for a colorful side dish, or toss into soups and stews.

Coconut Curry Rice With Shrimp

Last week, I wrote a post on my family site about food preparation places like Let's Dish, at which you prepare and freeze 4, 8 or 12 meals. My husband and I had fun, and so far, we have eaten two of the meals we prepared. The food is tasty, so I decided to try and deconstruct the recipes so our readers can try them at home.

Prep To Freeze: 10 minutes
Prep/Total Time To Cook: 25 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

one pound peeled and deveined shrimp
one cup instant brown rice
one cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup baby peas
1 cup baby corn
2-3 tablespoons vegetable base
1 cinnamon stick
3 TBSP dried chilies
1TBSP curry powder
1/2-1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 stick butter or margarine

In a gallon size freezer bag, combine all ingredients. Seal bag and turn to coat. Be sure to squeeze all the air out of the bag. Label with the date and contents, then place bag into another freezer bag. Freeze flat for easier storage.

To Cook: Place contents of bag into a skillet and add 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until shrimp is cooked through and rice is tender.

Tips and Tricks
The amount of curry powder and chilies will depend on how spicy you like your food. Add more or less to customize the dish to suit your family's tastes. Vegetable base is usually found with the bouillon in major grocery stores, but you can try making your own with vegetable bouillon, dried parsley and cornstarch. If you don't have whole cinnamon sticks, add a dash of ground cinnamon. The instructions said to leave the dish frozen, but it was a huge, hard block, so I left it on the countertop for about half an hour to soften up. This dish makes a lot once the rice cooks up, so use either a very large skillet or a wok. Place the contents of the bag in the skillet, then add the water to the empty bag, so you use all the spices.
Make It Healthier
Use low sodium base or bouillon.
How Kids Can Help
Kids can add the rice mixture to the skillet and measure the water.

Nutrition Facts
One serving equals:
Calories 358
Fat Cal. 127
Total Fat 14g
Sat. Fat 4.9g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholest. 72mg
Sodium 404mg
Total Carb 29.3g
Dietary Fiber 1.5g
Protein 28.4g

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chili Cranberry Chicken

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep: 30 minutes

1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
2 Tbs orange marmalade
1/8 tsp ground allspice
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Combine the first four ingredients; set aside. In a large skillet, slowly brown chicken on both sides in oil. Pour chili sauce mixture over chicken, simmer uncovered for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked and sauce is of desired consistency. Turn and baste occasionally.

Suggested sides:
Steamed zuchini & fresh bread.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Spinach Omelt Brunch Roll

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

2 cups egg substitute
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
5 turkey bacon strips, diced and cooked, divided
1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with parchment paper; coat paper with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the egg substitute, eggs, salt and pepper sauce. Stir in the spinach, onion, Italian seasoning and 1/4 cup bacon.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until set. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, saute mushrooms in oil for 6-8 minutes or until tender. Drain on paper towels; blot to remove excess moisture. Keep warm.

Turn omelet onto a work surface; peel off parchment paper. Sprinkle omelet with mushrooms and 3/4 cup cheese; roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Place on a serving platter. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bacon.

Tips and Tricks
I didn't have egg substitute, so I used 8 eggs total. I also used my potato ricer to squeeze the spinach dry. It worked great! I cooked the bacon in the microwave.
Make It Healthier
Use lean bacon. Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Kids can push the buttons on the microwave and chop the onions using a food chopper.


Nutrition Facts
1 slice equals 160 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 122 mg cholesterol, 505 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 17 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
2 lean meat, 1 vegetable, 1/2 fat

Monday, December 10, 2007

Toffee Almond Cookies

This recipe is from PEA's Corner, and I can't wait to try it!


1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp shortening
1 tbsp water
1/2 or more slivered almonds

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir in flour. Spread evenly into a greased 13 inch x 9 inch x 2 inch baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, combine butterscotch chips, corn syrup, shortening, water and remaining salt. Cover and microwave at 50% power until chips are melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Spread over crust. Sprinkle with almonds - lightly pressing into mixture. Refrigerate until set before cutting. Yields about 4 dozen.

Zuchini Tortellini Parmesean

Prep: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 Servings

1 package fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 26 oz can spaghetti sauce
2 small zuchini
1/3 cup grated parmesean cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse and drain. While pasta is cooking, brown hamburger with onions, garlic and oregano in a large skillet, drain. Add spaghetti sauce & zuchini, cook 15 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Arrange half of pasta in a greased 2 quart microwaveable baking dish; top with half each of sauce & cheese. Repeat layers ending with cheese. Cover & microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes or until heated through, rotating halfway through cooking time.

Tips & Tricks:
Ravioli or another filled pasta can be used in place of tortellini. Precrushed garlic or garlic powder can be used in place of garlic cloves. This recipe can be doubled & frozen, or can be made ahead, refrigerated & heated just before serving.

Savory Chicken Salad

Prep: 15 minutes
Yield: 4-6 Servings

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup mango chutney (optional)
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup halved red grapes
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 tbs finely chopped red onion
Romaine leaves
Toasted Almond slices.

In blender combine mayo & chutney until smooth. In medium bowl combine remaining ingredients with mayonnaise mixture. Season if desired with salt & pepper. Serve on lettuce & garnish toasted almond slices.

Tips & Tricks:
Use rotisserie-cooked chicken or packaged cooked chicken meat. Or cook extra & reserve for salads later in the week next time your meal calls for cooked chicken for an easy light dinner.

Cookies Jar Mixes

Unsure of what to give friends and neighbors this year? These cookie mixes are fun & delicious, plus your friends can make them up at their convenience and have a fresh baked treat from your heart!

Tips & Tricks:
Carefully layer ingredients in the jars, the layers show through and look pretty. Put a square of holiday fabric between the ring and the lid for a pretty jar topper. Be sure to label each jar with the recipe so your friends can bake up a treat!

How Kids Can Help:
Kids can measure & dump ingredients, kids can help deliver treats to friends.


Biscotti Cookie Mix in a Jar:

In a large bowl, combine the following ingredients:

2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. chopped almonds
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. dried lemon peel
1/4 tsp. dried orange peel

Place the mixture in a pretty jar or airtight container and include the following gift tag:

Biscotti

1 package Biscotti Mix
3 large eggs
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. anise extract
1 large egg, separated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine Biscotti mix with the eggs, butter, anise, and extra egg yolk from separated egg. Mix on low speed until the dough is smooth.

Roll dough out into two 12-inch logs, about 3 inches wide. Place logs onto a cookie sheet and brush with remaining egg white. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Cut the logs diagonally, into 1/2-inch slices. Bake the slices on their sides for another 12-14 minutes. Cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.




Chocolate Chip Fudge Cookie Mix

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 chocolate bar -- (5.5 ounce)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. Dry ingredients are layered in a jar and given, along with directions, as a gift. Use a funnel that has a 2-inch opening, to layer nicely in jar. With wire whisk, mix flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Pour into jar, pack down level with heavy object.

2. Mix oatmeal in a blender. Grate chocolate bar and mix into the oatmeal. Pack on top of flour in jar.

3. Add white sugar and pack down. Add brown sugar and pack down. Layer chopped nuts on top of brown sugar. Finish layering jar with mini or regular chocolate chips until even with the top (no more than 1/2 cup).

4. Use scissors to cut a 9 inch-diameter circle from calico. Place over lid and secure with rubber band. Tie on a raffia or ribbon bow to cover rubber band.

5. Label and store in a cool dry place away from a heat source so condensation and clumping does not occur.

6. Attach this recipe to the jar:

Chocolate Chip Fudge Cookie

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

1. Spoon chocolate chips and nuts into small bowl, set aside.
2. Spoon brown and white sugar into mixing bowl.
3. Add the following:
1/2 cup margarine or butter, cream well.
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Mix well. Pour oatmeal and flour mixture from jar into bowl, mix thoroughly.
Roll into walnut size balls, place on slightly greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 min.






Ginger Snap Cookies & Gingerbread Cookie Mix in a Jar

Ingredients to layer in the jar:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice

Mix 2 cups of the flour with the baking soda and baking powder. Then mix the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour with the spices.

In a one-quart, wide-mouth canning jar. Layer the ingredients starting with the flour baking powder mixture then the brown sugar and finally the flour and spice mixture. Use the bottom of a small clean juice glass and press each layer firmly in place.

Store in a cool dry place away from a heat source so condensation and clumping does not occur.

Write the following instructions on a card and attach to the jar:

GINGERBREAD COOKIES

1. Empty contents of jar into a large mixing bowl. Blend together well.

2. Add 1/2 cup softened butter or margarine, 3/4 cup molasses and 1 slightly beaten egg. Mix until completely blended. Dough will be very stiff so you may need to use your hands. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

4. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter. Place cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 to 12 minutes. Decorate as desired.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Quick 'n' Easy Pita Pizza

Prep: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 Mini Pizzas

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce with Italian seasonings
4 pita bread rounds
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
16 slices pepperoni
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425. Warm pitas in the microwave or preheated oven for 1 minute, or until soft. Spread sauce evenly on crust and sprinkle on mozzarella. Arrange pepperoni evenly on top and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until cheese bubbles and begins to brown, and pita crusts have reached the desired level of crispness.

Tips & Tricks:
Top with your favorite pizza toppings such as pineapple, ham, ground beef or sausage, olives, onions, or whatever you like!

How Kids Can Help:
After spreading sauce, allow kids to build their own pizzas with their favorite toppings.

Make it Healthier:
Use whole wheat pita bread. Top with veggies instead of pepperoni.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Chicken, Broccoli, and Ziti Skillet

This recipe is from An Ordinary Mom. I am looking forward to trying it, every one of Lucy's recipes I've tried before has been fabulous! Enjoy.

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken cut in strips (I used chicken tenders.)
3 tablespoons butter (I just used PAM to make the meal lower in calories.)
1 onion, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces (2 1/2 cups) ziti (I used farfalle - it is what I had on hand.)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk (I used skim.)
1 bunch broccoli florets (I used a 16 ounce bag of frozen broccoli florets.)
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped or 1 cup roasted red peepers, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)

Pat the chicken dry, then season with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon butter (or use PAM) over medium heat in a 12 inch skillet. Add the chicken and cook until it is lightly browned. Transfer chicken to a bowl.

Add 1 more tablespoon butter, the onion, red pepper flakes, oregano and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet. Cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.

Sprinkle the ziti evenly into the skillet. Pour the broth and milk over the ziti. Cover and bring to a simmer, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the broccoli and roasted peppers or sun-dried tomatoes. Cover and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta begins to soften and the broccoli turns bright green, about 8-12 minutes.

Stir in the chicken. Cover and continue to simmer for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter (optional), Parmesan cheese and lemon juice (if using). Season with salt and pepper.

Crock Pot Mediterranean Chicken

Prep: 15 minutes plus cooking
Yield: 6 servings

2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can tomatoes, whole, drained and cut up
1 (6 oz.) jar artichoke hearts, marinated
1 (2 1/2 oz.) can olives, pitted and sliced, drained
3 Tbs tapioca, quick-cooking
2 lbs chicken thighs and/or drumsticks, skinned
1 Tbs Italian seasoning, dried and crushed
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup chicken broth, reduced sodium
1/4 cup wine, dry white

In a 3½ - 4 quart slow cooker combine the mushrooms, tomatoes, undrained artichoke hearts, and olives. Sprinkle with tapioca. Place the chicken pieces over the vegetables. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and salt. Add chicken broth and white wine. Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3½ to 4 hours.

Tips & Tricks:
White grape juice can be used in place of white wine, this makes a slightly sweeter sauce. However if you use wine, after so many hours of cooking the alcohol cooks out. In place of artichokes, you can use chopped pimiento olives. I use boneless skinless chicken thighs-this saves me time serving to my kids because I don't have to debone their chicken.

How Kids Can Help:
Wipe mushrooms with a damp cloth to clean
Slice mushrooms in an egg slicer
Drain olives and tomatoes in a colander
Measure & dump seasoning

Nutrition Facts:
112.9 calories; 18% calories from fat; 2.4g total fat; 45.4mg cholesterol; 345.4mg sodium; 358.4mg potassium; 8.8g carbohydrates; 2.0g fiber; 0.9g sugar; 6.8g net carbs; 13.0g protein.

Black Bean Burritos

These tasty burritos have 6 grams of fiber each!

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

1 can (16 ounces) refried beans
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 cups salsa, divided
1 cup fresh broccoli florets, chopped
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
8 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed

In a large bowl, combine the refried beans, black beans, 1 cup salsa, broccoli, 3/4 cup cheese, onion and cumin. Spoon down the center of each tortilla; roll up. Place seam side down in a baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until heated through. Uncover; top with remaining salsa and cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Tips and Tricks
I used full fat cheddar cheese, but cut the total amount down. If you buy sharp cheddar, the more distinct flavor means you can use less overall without compromising your dish. I also used frozen broccoli. Try throwing in extra veggies, like sliced green peppers or halved cherry tomatoes.
Make It Healthier
Serve in whole grain tortillas. Use natural salsa.
How Kids Can Help
Older kids can grate the cheese. Younger kids can rinse the beans and stir the filling.

Nutrition Facts
1 burrito equals 305 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 823 mg sodium, 45 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 14 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 starch, 1 very lean meat, 1 vegetable, 1/2 fat

Avocado And Turkey Wraps

Prep/Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno peppers
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 flour tortillas (8 inches)
3/4 cup shredded lettuce
1/2 cup chopped tomato
10 ounces sliced deli smoked turkey
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup chopped red onion

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, jalapenos, pepper and salt until blended; spread over one side of each tortilla. Layer with lettuce, tomato, turkey, avocado and onion. Roll up tightly. Serve immediately.

Tips and Tricks
I'm not a fan of jalapeno peppers, so I substituted a container of Philadelphia Light 'Garden Veggies' cream cheese. I also omitted the salt and onion. Make extras and wrap them in plastic wrap for lunch the next day.
Make It Healthier
Serve on whole grain tortillas. Omit salt. Use reduced-fat or fat-free cream cheese.
How Kids Can Help
Older kids can help peel the avocado. Younger kids can sprinkle salt and pepper and roll tortillas.

Nutrition Facts
1 serving (1 each) equals 509 calories, 32 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 88 mg cholesterol, 1,104 mg sodium, 33 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 25 g protein

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Creamy Chicken Soup With Wild Rice

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 60 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

2/3 cup uncooked wild rice
2/3 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped carrot
2 tablespoons butter
6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
3 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fat-free half-and-half

Cook rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan coated with cooking spray, cook onion and carrot in butter for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, potatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add broccoli; cook 3-7 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender.

Drain rice if necessary; fluff with a fork. Stir chicken and rice into potato mixture; heat through. In a small bowl, combine flour and half-and-half until smooth. Gradually stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Tips and Tricks
I didn't have wild rice, so I used a boxed long grain and wild rice mix and added it to the soup. I also used frozen broccoli.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Use food chopper to chop veggies.

Nutrition Facts
1-1/4 cups equals 251 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 48 mg cholesterol, 707 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 22 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
2 starch, 2 very lean meat, 1/2 fat

Steak With Garlic-Wine Sauce

Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

1 whole garlic bulb
1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 beef flank steak (1-1/2 pounds)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
1 cup dry red wine or 1/4 cup grape juice and 3/4 cup additional reduced-sodium beef broth
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

Remove papery outer skin from garlic bulb (do not peel or separate cloves). Cut top off of garlic bulb; brush with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Wrap bulb in heavy-duty foil. Bake at 425° for 30-35 minutes or until softened. Cool for 10-15 minutes. Squeeze softened garlic into a small bowl; mash and set aside.

Sprinkle steak with pepper and salt. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook steak over medium-high heat in remaining oil for 3-4 minutes on each side or until browned. Reduce heat to medium; add 1 tablespoon butter. Cook for 4-8 minutes on each side or until meat reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare, a meat thermometer should read 145°; medium, 160°; well-done, 170°). Remove and keep warm.

Gradually add broth and wine or grape juice and additional broth to pan, stirring to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil. Stir in mashed garlic. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by half.

Strain sauce and return to pan; stir in remaining butter until melted. Thinly slice steak across the grain. Sprinkle with onions; serve with sauce.

Tips and Tricks
Most of the prep time is used roasting the garlic for the sauce. I used thin sliced meat to cut the cooking time, and I used the grape juice/broth combo in place of red wine. This recipe is also great on the grill.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt. Use unsalted butter or trans-fat free spread.
How Kids Can Help
Brush garlic bulb with oil and wrap in foil. Measure broth.

Nutrition Facts
3 ounces cooked beef with 2 tablespoons sauce equals 227 calories, 13 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 65 mg cholesterol, 439 mg sodium, 1 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 22 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
3 lean meat, 1 fat