Sunday, January 25, 2009

Polenta Flowers

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Yield: 24 flowers

6-inch log refrigerated cooked polenta
olive oil
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
tomato sauce for dipping

Cut polenta into 24 slices and use cookie cutters to cut flower shapes from slices. Arrange on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. Cool slightly and serve with tomato sauce.

Tips and Tricks
Rather than buying premade polenta, I bought a bag of dry polenta and followed the directions on the bag. This option takes longer, but is cheaper.
Make It Healthier
Use natural tomato sauce.
How Kids Can Help
Kids can cut the flower shapes out and sprinkle cheese.
Recipe Source
Parents magazine

Crunchy Fish Triangles

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 8-10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1/2 pound tilapia fillets, cut into 12 triangles
2 Tbsp milk
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 Tbsp dry ranch salad dressing mix
olive oil

Mix bread crumbs with salad dressing mix. Pour milk into a separate bowl. Dip fish into milk, then into bread crumb mixture. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 450 for 8-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Tips and Tricks
Use any white fleshed fish. 450 always seems to hot for my oven, so I reduce the temperature and increase the cooking time. I also used Italian seasoned bread crumbs.
Make It Healthier
Use fat-free milk and trans-fat free bread crumbs.
How Kids Can Help
Mix bread crumbs and salad dressing mix. Older kids can coat fish.
Recipe Source
Parents magazine

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cheesy Drop Biscuits

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10-12 minutes
Yield: 6-8 biscuits

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Mix all dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients and mix to combine. Dough will be slightly dry.

Form into biscuits and bake at 450 on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray for 10-12 minutes or until browned.

Tips and Tricks
I use powdered buttermilk because it lasts longer. Follow the directions on the label for reconstitution. Don't make the biscuits too large, or they will take longer to bake.
Make It Healthier
Substitute one cup of whole wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour.
How Kids Can Help
Older kids can probably make this entire recipe. Younger kids can measure ingredients and help mix dough.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bean Soup with Ham

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 2-3 hours
Yield: 8 cups

1 ham bone
2 cans beans (pinto, garbanzo, great northern or navy), rinsed and drained
8 ounce can tomato sauce
3 oz can tomato paste
4 cups chicken broth
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
1 large handful fresh parsley, chopped, or 1 Tbsp dried parsley

Place ham bone in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until reduced by half and meat is falling off bone. Remove from heat. When cook enough to touch, remove bone from pot and pull meat from bones. Reserve cooking liquid and discard bones and fat.

Add meat back to reserved liquid. Add beans, broth, tomato sauce, paste and salt and pepper. Stir to combine and heat over low.

In a small saucepan coated with cooking spray, saute onions, carrots and garlic until crisp tender. Add to soup.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until beans and veggies are tender.

Tips and Tricks
Using canned beans makes this soup prep faster, but you can use dried beans to save money. Follow the soaking directions on the package. You will also need to increase the water and cooking time.
Make It Healthier
Use low-sodium broth and omit additional salt.
How Kids Can Help
Older kids can open cans. Measure ingredients.

Fresh Guacamole

Prep/Total Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 4 cups

4 Haas avocados, peeled and cubed
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 cups finely chopped Vidalia onion
1 large handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Mash with a fork to desired consistency. Serve with tortilla chips.

Tips and Tricks
Cover with saran wrap tightly over the guacamole to prevent browning. If serving after refrigeration, stir before serving.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Older kids can peel and pit the avocados. Measure ingredients and mix.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Crispy Coconut Chicken

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

2/3 cup crushed multigrain crackers
1/3 cup flaked coconut
1 jar mango chutney (9 oz)
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp curry powder
8 chicken drumsticks, skin removed
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 cup cooked brown rice

Heat oven to 375. Combine cracker crumbs and coconut and place in a small bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup chutney. In another bowl, combine remaining chutney, lime juice and curry powder. Dip chicken pieces in chutney mixture, then roll in crumb mixture.

Bake chicken on a foil lined pan for 40 minutes or until done. Cover loosely with aluminum foil for last ten minutes to prevent overbrowning.

Toss peas with reserved chutney ans cook in microwave for 2 minutes. Combine peas with rice.

Tips and Tricks
In place of drumsticks, I used about a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips. If you do this, reduce your cooking time. I also slightly reduced the amount of curry, and I used Italian bread crumbs instead of crackers.
Make It Healthier
Use trans-fat free crackers.
How Kids Can Help
Mix chutney into peas. Press buttons on microwave.
Recipe Source
Parents magazine

Nutrition Facts
one serving equals 589 calories, 14 g fat, 62 g carbs, 43 mg calcium, 5 g fiber

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Last night I was craving dessert. My husband and I decided to try making flan for the first time, YUM!

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Chill: 60 minutes
Yield: 6-12 Servings

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
6 large eggs
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
26 oz evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. You will need 6 ramekins or other specialty flan cook ware, and a large baking pan to put them in.

Pour 1 cup sugar into warm pan over medium heat. Constantly stir the sugar until it browns and becomes caramel. Quickly pour approximately 2-3 tbs of caramel into each ramekin, tilting it to swirl the caramel around the sides. Reheat caramel if it starts to harden.

In a mixer or with a whisk, blend the eggs together. Mix in the milks and then slowly mix in the 1/2 cup sugar, then the vanilla. Blend smooth after each ingredient is added.

Pour custard into caramel lined ramekins. Place ramekins in a large glass or ceramic baking dish and fill with about 1-2 inches of hot water. Bake for 45 minutes in the water bath and check with a knife just to the side of the center. If knife comes out clean, it's ready.

Remove and let cool. Let each ramekin chill in refrigerator for 1 hour. Invert each ramekin onto a small plate, the caramel sauce will flow over the custard.

Tips and tricks:
I don't have ramekins, so I used small round flat bottomed stoneware bowls. I used 4 bowls, so with the larger size the baking time increased by about 15 minutes. This is very rich, so a small serving is plenty. The flan that chilled overnight turned out better than the flan that only chilled for an hour.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hearty Vegetable Beef Stew

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

1 1/2 pounds lean beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
salt and pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced and rinsed
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 can (10oz) whole plum tomatoes, undrained
1 can (10 oz) canned whole potatoes
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup light beer
1 cup chicken broth

In a resealable bag or bowl, mix together the flour, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Add beef chunks and toss to coat.

In a large Dutch oven, saute the garlic and onions in olive oil until tender. Add the vegetables except for the potatoes and cook about 5 minutes longer. Add the seasoned meat to the pot and stir to mix. Cook until meat is browned. When the mixture gets very sticky, add the beer and chicken broth.

Bring to a boil and stir to combine, add canned potatoes, then simmer until vegetables are tender.

Tips and Tricks
Fresh potatoes will become too mushy, so be sure to use canned potatoes. Leeks can be sandy, so be sure to rinse and drain them well after slicing. I bought precleaned parsnips that just had to be peeled. When stirring the vegetables, use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to break apart the tomatoes. I also used marjoram and thyme in place of the basil and oregano.
Make It Healthier
Choose lean meat. Omit salt. Use low-sodium chicken broth.
How Kids Can Help
Peel vegetables. Shake bag to coat meat. Older kids can open cans.
Recipe Source
Adapted from the Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno

Nutrition Facts
one serving equals 315 calories, 20g protein, 35g carbs, 6 g fiber, 8 g sugars, 10g fat, 314mg sodium

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken

I have not tried this recipe yet, but I'm going to put it on the menu for next week. It sounds so delicious!

Prep: 40 minutes including baking
Yield: 4 Servings

3 cups lightly packed baby spinach (about 4 oz)
1 clove garlic minced
2 tsp. olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup crumbled feta with tomato and basil in it
1 tsp. lemon pepper (I have never put this on it)
1/2 tsp. oregano or italian seasoning.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In saucepan cook spinach and garlic in olive oil until spinach is tender; set aside. Place chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pound with mallet to 1/4-1/2" thickness. Remove plastic wrap. Spoon one quarter of the spinach mixture down center of each breast half; top with 1 T. of feta. Fold in long sides and roll up from a short end. Secure with wooden picks. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with lemon pepper and oregano. Transfer chicken to shallow baking dish. Bake 20 min. or until chicken is no longer pink (170 degree internal temp).

Suggested Sides:
Risotto with Tomato, Corn, and Basil

Monday, January 5, 2009

Quick Lunch Burritos

This recipe was invented when my husband needed something to take for lunch. I dug around in our fridge and came up with this!

Prep/Total Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

2 whole grain tortillas (1o inch)
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed and cooked
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream, salsa, guacamole, optional

In a microwave safe dish, combine the beans, scallions and corn. Microwave 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Stir to combine.

Spoon one half of the mixture onto each tortilla. Top with salsa, sour cream and guacamole. Roll up.

Tips and Tricks
Substitute black beans if you don't like kidney beans. Heat tortillas slightly for ease in rolling. Try this version of Light Guacamole to go with the burrito! Add shredded chicken for a meat option.
Make It Healthier
Use reduced-fat cheese and low-fat sour cream.
How Kids Can Help
Rinse beans. Shred cheese. Roll tortilla.
Recipe Source

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tuscan Beef Stew

1 can condensed tomato soup
1 can condensed beef broth
1/2 cup apple juice
2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into chunks
3 large carrots, cut as desired
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
32 oz canned cannellini beans (white kidney beans) rinsed and drained

Put all ingredients except beans in crock pot on low for 8-9 hours. Add beans during the last 10 minutes before serving.

Crockpot Turkey Stock

Don't throw that turkey carcass away! Save it for stock and make your dollars stretch a little further.

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 7-8 hours
Yield: ~4 cups chicken stock

carcass from one 10-15 pound turkey, including bones and skin
4 cups water
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1-2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
1/2-1 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup fresh dill

Place all ingredients in crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Let cool, then strain bones and vegetables out. Place remaining liquid in a bowl and refrigerate. Every few hours, remove bowl from refrigerator and skim fat from top of liquid.

Tips and Tricks
Don't be surprised in the first hour if the stock smells like burning bones. This is normal, and the smell will soon change to that of yummy turkey. This recipe is also appropriate for chicken. The veggies don't need to be peeled and the herbs don't need to be chopped, since everything will be strained out. I usually use my stock right away, but it can be frozen for up to 3 months. If you're watching your fat intake, leave the skin out of the crockpot.
Make It Healthier
Omit skin and dark meat.
How Kids Can Help
Add ingredients to crockpot. Push buttons on crockpot.
Recipe Source

Seven Things To Make With Leftover Chicken

Check out this great list from Prevention Magazine on how to use up leftover rotisserie chicken! Your leftovers will never taste the same!

**Use it as ravioli filling--Mix shredded chicken with ricotta cheese, grated Parmesan and dried or fresh Italian spices and seal inside storebought wonton wrappers (usually found in the produce section). Boil in water until cooked through, drain and serve with sauce.

**Make Easy Tamales--Mix chicken with salsa and sandwich inside slices of storebought polenta. Microwave on high for one minute, then top with sour cream and sliced scallions.

**Make Chili--Substitute shredded chicken for ground beef in your favorite chili recipe.

**Make Chicken Soup--Heat chicken stock, frozen corn or other veggies, onions and spinach. Stir in chopped chicken and top with sour cream, croutons or shredded cheese.

**Use it in stirfry--Mix shredded chicken with soy sauce and add to stirfried veggies for an easy weeknight meal.

**Add it to your favorite salad--Turn a side dish into a main dish by adding chicken to your usual salad.

**Take it for lunch--Fill a pita with shredded chicken, hummus, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes and top with feta cheese.

Don't forget to save the chicken carcass and use it to make Crockpot Stock!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Lighter Garlic Mashed Potatoes

If you normally make mashed potatoes with heavy whipping cream, try this lighter version using buttermilk.

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

2 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
3 lg cloves garlic, sliced
3/4 C low-fat (1%) buttermilk
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine potatoes and garlic in medium pot with salted water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

Warm buttermilk in small saucepan over medium-low heat.

Drain potatoes and garlic. Push through potato ricer or food mill into medium bowl or mash with potato masher.

Beat buttermilk into potatoes. Beat in butter, salt, and pepper.

Tips and Tricks
Yukon gold potatoes have a creamy and flavorful flesh, but you can use any variety of potato. For additional potassium, leave the skins on. Try using powdered buttermilk. It has to be reconstituted, but lasts longer in your pantry. Follow the directions on the label. I also heat the buttermilk in the microwave on reduced power instead of in a saucepan to save time. Rather than slicing the garlic, I crush the clove with the flat side of a chef's knife.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Older kids can use a veggie peeler to peel the potatoes. Measure buttermilk, salt and pepper.
Recipe Source
Prevention Magazine

Nutrition Facts
One serving equals:
117.3 CAL
1.7 G
1 G
4.7 MG
176.6 MG
21.6 G
1.1 G
1.4 G
3.5 G

Friday, January 2, 2009

Stuffed Shells With Artichokes

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

24 jumbo pasta shells (6 oz)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts (packed in water), drained and coarsely chopped
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/2 C 1% cottage cheese
2 med carrots, shredded
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 C shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare pasta per package directions (reduce cooking time by 2 to 3 minutes).

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juice) and artichokes. Cover and simmer 4 minutes.

Combine remaining ingredients except mozzarella in large bowl. Fill shells with mixture and place in a baking dish. Pour sauce over top. Cover loosely with foil and bake 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and bake uncovered 10 minutes or until bubbly.

Tips and Tricks
I used more shells and filled each with slightly less filling. I also omitted the mushrooms from the sauce.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Mix filling. Older kids can fill shells.
Recipe Source
adapted from Prevention magazine.

Nutrition Facts
one serving equals:
175.3 CAL
2.7 G
1.1 G
5.5 MG
385.2 MG
24.7 G
4.7 G
2.8 G
13.6 G

Pecan-Chicken With Peach Dipping Sauce

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1/2 C pecan halves
2 slices whole wheat bread, torn into pieces
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 lb chicken breast tenders
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
1/2 C apricot or peach 100% fruit spread
2 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Put pecans in food processor and chop. Add bread and pulse to fine crumbs. Transfer to shallow dish. Put egg whites in another dish and beat lightly. Sprinkle chicken with thyme, salt, and pepper.

Dip a piece of chicken into egg whites and then roll in crumbs, pressing to adhere. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken. Drizzle chicken with oil. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until crumbs brown and chicken is no longer pink in thickest part.

Mix fruit spread and lemon juice in bowl to make sauce.

Tips and Tricks
Instead of chopping pecans in a food processor, place them in a resealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. If you don't have or don't like pecans, try using other nuts. If you don't have thyme, you can leave it out. In place of chicken tenders, cut regular boneless, skinless breasts into pieces.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Older kids can coat chicken.
Recipe Source
Prevention magazine

Zucchini Sticks With Marinara Sauce

Prep/Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 lg egg whites
3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt-free Italian seasoning mix
1/4 tsp salt
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch wedges
1/2 cup warm marinara sauce

Brush baking pan with 1 Tbsp oil, or use 2 smaller pans brushed with 1/2 Tbsp oil each. Beat egg whites slightly in a bowl. In another bowl, combine bread crumbs, cheese, salt and Italian seasoning.

Dip zucchini in egg whites, then coat in bread crumb mixture. Arrange on baking sheet, close together but not touching. Drizzle with remaining oil.

Bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes or until zucchini is crisp and golden. Serve with marinara sauce.

Tips and Tricks
If using 2 pans, switch pan position in oven halfway though baking. For the Italian seasoning mix, try Herbal Salt Substitute.
Make It Healthier
Omit salt.
How Kids Can Help
Measure ingredients. Beat egg whites. Dip zucchini in egg/bread crumbs.
Recipe Source
Prevention magazine.