Friday, February 29, 2008

Blushing Penne Pasta

Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

1 package (16 ounces) penne pasta
1 cup thinly sliced onions
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups half-and-half cream, divided
1/2 cup white wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Cook penne according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook onions in butter for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the thyme, basil and salt; cook 1 minute longer. Add 1 cup cream, wine or broth and tomato paste; cook and stir until blended.

Combine flour and remaining cream until smooth; gradually stir into onion mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in 1/4 cup cheese. Drain penne; toss with sauce. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Tips and Tricks
Since my family has a hard time eating pasta leftovers, I made half the box of pasta and the full amount of sauce. This worked out well, because the leftovers seemed to absorb a lot of the sauce. I also used whole wheat pasta.
Make It Healthier
Use whole wheat or whole grain pasta. Use unsalted butter or trans-fat free spread. Omit salt. Use fat-free half and half.
How Kids Can Help
Pour pasta into water. Measure spices.

Nutrition Facts
One serving: 1 cup Calories: 336 Fat: 10 g Saturated Fat: 6 g Cholesterol: 34 mg Sodium: 445 mg Carbohydrate: 46 g Fiber: 2 g Protein: 12 g

3 Meal Series Part 3: Open Faced Beef Melts

Prep: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

9 oz sliced pot roast
1 cup gravy
4 slices Texas Toast, lightly toasted
4 slices cheddar or swiss cheese

In a large skillet heat pot roast and gravy until heated through. Spread toast on broiler pan, Divide pot roast slices evenly among toast. Spoon most of the gravy over the meat and top each sandwich with a slice of cheese. Broil 1 minute or until cheese is melted.

3 Meal Series Part 2: Shepherds Pie

Prep: 55 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

3 cups beef broth
3 tbs flour
2 1/2 cups shredded pot roast
10 oz frozen carrots & peas, thawed
1/2 tsp oregano
5 medium potatoes, peeled, & boiled until soft
1/8 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 1 1/2 quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Mash potatoes with milk until smooth & creamy, set aside. Whisk beef broth and flour together in a medium saucepan. Heat until simmering, simmer for 1 additional minute or until thickened.

Reserve 1 cup gravy in fridge for tomorrow.

Stir in pot roast, vegetables, and oregano. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish. Spoon potatoes over top of meat mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

3 Meal Series Part 1: Roast Beef & Goulash

Prep: 35 minutes, plus 4 hours in crock pot
Yield: 4 servings plus leftovers for 2 more meals

1 4 lb bottom-round pot roast
1 tbs cooking oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 large onion, sliced
2 cups beef broth
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup flour
1/2 lb egg noodles, cooked

Place roast in crock pot. Add broth, salt & pepper, tomato sauce, and onion. Cook on high for 4 hours. Remove roast, and slice approximately 1/3 of the roast into slices. Reserve remaining roast in fridge for meals later in the week. Strain onions from drippings and reserve. Add flour to drippings in crock pot and whisk until smooth. Add sour cream and heat until thickened. Return onions to sauce. Pour sauce over egg noodles and serve with roast beef.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Spinach Enchiladas

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Yield: 10 servings

1 carton (15 ounces) reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend, divided
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
10 flour tortillas (8 inches)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup vegetable broth
1 bottle (7 ounces) mild green taco sauce
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
2 teaspoons canola oil

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup cheese and egg whites. Spoon down the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray.

In a small saucepan, combine the cornstarch and broth until smooth. Stir in taco sauce. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Pour over enchiladas. In a nonstick skillet, saute mushrooms in oil until tender; arrange evenly over enchiladas.

Cover and bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Tips and Tricks
Although this recipe was supposed to make 10 enchiladas, I filled the shells a little more generously and made 7. I also used dried cilantro. I use a potato ricer to squeeze the spinach dry.
Make It Healthier
Use part-skim ricotta. Use corn tortillas in place of flour. Use reduced-sodium or sodium-free broth.
How Kids Can Help
Squeeze spinach dry. Measure and mix filling. Roll up tortillas. Pour sauce over tortillas.
Suggested Sides
fat-free refried beans, Spanish Rice

Nutrition Facts
1 enchilada equals 271 calories, 10 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 22 mg cholesterol, 674 mg sodium, 32 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 15 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
2 starch, 1 lean meat, 1

Friday, February 15, 2008

Make It Healthier

From the Mayo Clinic: 5 Ways to Make Over Your Recipes for Health

  1. Reduce the amount of fat, sugar and sodium

    With most recipes, you can reduce the amount of fat, sugar and sodium without losing the flavor. By cutting fat and sugar, you also cut calories. How much can you leave out without affecting the flavor and consistency of the food? Apply the following general guidelines:

    • Fat. For baked goods, use half the butter, shortening or oil and replace the other half with unsweetened applesauce, mashed banana, pureed pumpkin, or prune puree. You can also use commercially prepared fruit-based fat replacers found in the baking aisle of your local grocery store.
    • Sugar. Reduce the amount of sugar by one-third to one-half. When you use less sugar, add spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg or flavorings such as vanilla extract or almond flavoring to enhance the sweetness of the food.
    • Sodium. Reduce salt by one-half in baked goods that don't require yeast. For foods that require yeast, don't reduce the amount of salt, which is necessary for leavening. Without salt, the foods may become dense and flat. For most main dishes, salads, soups and other foods, however, you can reduce the salt by one-half or eliminate it completely.

    Other ingredients may contain sugar, fat and sodium, and you can decrease them as well. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, use 1/2 cup instead. Or use less soy sauce than is indicated to decrease the amount of sodium in the food.

  2. Make a healthy substitution

    Healthy substitutions not only reduce the amount of fat, calories and sodium in your recipes, but also can boost the nutritional content. For example, use whole-wheat pasta in place of enriched pasta. You'll triple the fiber and reduce the number of calories. Prepare a dessert with fat-free milk instead of whole milk to save 63 calories and almost 8 grams of fat per cup. The Mayo Clinic has more tips on Ingredient Substitutions

  3. Delete an ingredient

    In some recipes, you can delete an ingredient altogether; likely candidates include items you add out of habit or for appearance, such as frosting, coconut or nuts, which are high in fat and calories. Other possibilities include optional condiments, such as pickles, olives, butter, mayonnaise, syrup, jelly and mustard, which can have large amounts of sodium, sugar, fat and calories.

  4. Change the method of preparation

    Healthy cooking techniques - such as braising, broiling, grilling and steaming - can capture the flavor and nutrients of your food without adding excessive amounts of fat, oil or sodium. If your recipe calls for frying the ingredients in oil or butter, try baking, broiling or poaching the food instead. If the directions say to baste the meat or vegetables in oil or drippings, use wine, fruit juice, vegetable juice or fat-free vegetable broth instead. Using nonstick pans or spraying pans with nonstick cooking spray will further reduce the amount of fat and calories added to your meals.

  5. Change the portion size

    No matter how much you reduce, switch or omit ingredients, some recipes may still be high in sugar, fat or salt. In these cases, reduce the amount of that food you eat. Smaller portions have less fat, calories and sodium and allow you to eat a wider variety of foods during a meal. Eating a variety of foods will ensure that you get all the energy, protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber you need.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Herbed Tomato Soup

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

1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup tomato paste
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk

In a large saucepan, combine the first six ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste until blended. In a small bowl, combine milk powder and flour; stir in milk until smooth. Gradually stir into soup. Cook and stir until thickened and heated through.

Tips and Tricks
I used no-salt-added canned tomatoes and 1% milk. make sure you mix the flour, dry milk powder and milk thoroughly so the soup isn't lumpy. Heat on low, so the milk doesn't scorch.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Older kids can open the can. Younger kids can measure ingredients and pour them into the saucepan.

Nutrition Facts
1 cup equals 201 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 14 mg cholesterol, 621 mg sodium, 31 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 14 g protein
Diabetic Exchanges
2 vegetable, 1 starch, 1 fat-free milk

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tuscan White Bean Stew

Prep: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 can chicken broth
2 cups shredded carrots
2 15 oz cans cannellini beans, drained
3 cups cooked, cubed turkey
3/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 cup Parmesean cheese
1 tbs chopped parsley

4 bread bowls

Bring broth to a simmer in a large saucepan. Add carrots and one can of beans. Mash second can of beans and add to pan. Stir in turkey and Italian seasoning. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and parsley. Serve in bread bowls.

How Kids Can Help:
Kids can mash beans. Kids can dump ingredients into saucepan.

Beef Taco Skillet

Prep: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 lb ground beef
1 10 oz can tomato soup
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup water
6, 6" flour tortillas, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook beef in 10" skillet until well browned, stirring to break up meat. Drain fat. Stir in soup, salsa, water, and tortillas. Heat to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes on low. Top with cheese.

How kids can help:
Kids can tear or using a butter knife cut tortillas. Older kids can shred cheese & open cans.

Tips & Tricks:
For a creamier skillet casserole, add 1/2 cup sour cream when you add the soup. Experiment with corn or whole grain wheat tortillas. Monterey or Pepper Jack cheese gives this casserole a Tex-Mex kick.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Death by Chocolate III

This recipe comes to us from Are You Serious. I can't wait to try out this delicious looking Chocolate Trifle.


1 (19.8 ounce) package brownie mix (I used a triple fudge chunk flavor)*
2 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix*
2 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed*
3 (1.5 ounce) bar chocolate candy (I used crushed up Heath Bar...yummy!)


1. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions and cool completely. Let cool.
2. Mix pudding according to package directions.
3. In a glass punch bowl, layer the following in order: 1/2 of the brownies, crumbled; half of the pudding and one of the 8 ounce container of whipped topping. Repeat layers. Save the last toffee bar to crumble and sprinkle on top before serving.
4. Refrigerate. Best if made the day before you serve it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Curried Lentils With Butternut Squash

Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 cup lentils
1 small butternut squash (1-1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Salt and pepper to taste
Toasted coconut, optional

Butter an 8 x 11-inch baking pan and set aside. Combine lentils and enough cold water to cover in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium; add butternut squash. Simmer until squash and lentils are tender, about 25 minutes.

Drain. Put chunks of squash in a medium bowl, then mash roughly with a fork or potato masher.

Heat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, combine lentils, squash, and remaining ingredients except coconut. Spoon mixture into baking dish. Bake 20 minutes. Top with coconut, if using. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Tips and Tricks
Rather than cubing the squash raw, I cut off the stem and quartered it, then placed it cut side down on a cookie sheet and roasted it for an hour at 350. When it came out, the flesh was tender and the skin peeled off easily. I then mashed it in a bowl and followed the rest of the recipe. My husband preferred it without the coconut, but my kids liked the sweetness.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Spoon mixture into baking dish.

Marinated Broiled Scallops

Prep: 10 minutes plus marinating
Cook: 5-6 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

2 1/2 pounds sea scallops
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh (or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried) rosemary
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
In a bowl, place the scallops and sprinkle with pepper.
In another bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Pour mixture over scallops and toss. Cover and marinate at room temperature for one hour.
Heat broiler and place scallops on broiling pan. Broil for 2-3 minutes, turn and broil for another 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook. Serve hot.
Tips and Tricks
The scallops can be marinated overnight in the refrigerator. Remove and allow to stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking. They can also be skewered and cooked on the grill.
How Kids Can Help
Mix marinade ingredients. Pour over scallops. Older kids can thread scallops on skewers.

Codfish Cakes

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 3-5 minutes per batch
Yield: 12-16 cakes

1 pound salt cod, soaked in water overnight
3 potatoes, boiled and well drained
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated onion
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 egg yolk
vegetable oil for deep frying

Remove cod from water and cook in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove and drain thoroughly. Shred cod, removing any bones, and place in a large bowl.
In another bowl, coarsely mash the well-drained potatoes. Mix into shredded cod thoroughly but gently. Add the parsley, onion, pepper and egg yolk and mix well. The mixture should be fairly dry.
Scoop up a quantity of mixture the size of an egg and form into compact oval shapes. In a deep saucepan, add enough oil to come halfway up pan. Heat until hot and fry cod cakes a few at a time until dark golden in color, about 3-5 minutes. Serve hot.
Tips and Tricks
The secret to success is the dryness of the mixture. Cakes that are too moist may fall apart during frying. Coddies are traditionally served with saltine crackers and mustard.
Make It Healthier
Pan fry the cakes in a small amount of oil instead of in a deep pan. Drain well.
How Kids Can Help
Measure and mix ingredients. Older kids can shape the cakes.

Spicy Shrimp

Prep/Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
1 cup chili sauce
1 teaspoon horseradish
2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, divided
2-3 dashes hot sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 pound shrimp, unpeeled

To make sauce, combine chili sauce, horseradish, 1 teaspoon Old Bay, hot sauce, and lemon juice in a bowl and refrigerate.
In a saucepan, combine water, viegar and remaining Old Bay and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add shrimp and simmer covered for 7-10 minutes. Remove shrimp and serve with sauce.
Tips and Tricks
If you don't have chili sauce, substitute ketchup and alter the seasonings to suit your taste.
Make It Healthier
Old Bay is very salty. Use it sparingly.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Mix sauce.

Baked Crab Imperial

Prep: 10 minutes
Bake: 15-20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 pound lump crabmeat, picked through for cartilage
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
1 small onion, minced
1 green pepper, minced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise

In a bowl, combine all ingredients together. Place in a shallow casserole dish and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Tips and Tricks
In place of fresh parsley, use 1 teaspoon dried parsley.
Make It Healthier
Use reduced-fat mayo.
How Kids Can Help
Older kids can help pick through the crabmeat. Mix ingredients.