Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I Haven't Forgotten!

Just been out of town and busy dealing with school. We've decided as a family to go vegetarian, so I'm having to shift gears a bit in my cooking. Recipes will start flowing again soon, I promise. In the meantime, enjoy your New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Southern Sausage Muffins

My weekend cooking got a little interrupted, and I wound up splitting the kitchen duty over two days this time. I had decided to make the Shepherd's Inn Breakfast Casserole again, but wanted something to use up the leftover 1/2 lb of sausage. I found this yummy little recipe that tastes very much like a sausage ball, but with a much lighter texture. I used reduced-fat cheese, turkey sausage, and reduced-fat Bisquick to lighten it up. Make sure to store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Southern Sausage Muffins

1/2 lb. mild pork sausage
1/3 c. green onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
1 1/2 tsp. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
2/3 c. milk
1/2 c. finely grated Cheddar cheese (2 oz.)

Heat oven to 400 degrees (375 degrees for dark nonstick pan). Grease bottoms only of 12 medium muffin cups, 2 1/2 x 1 1/4 inches. Cook and stir sausage and onions in 10 inch skillet until brown, crumbling sausage into small bits; drain on paper towels.

Mix baking mix, brown sugar, dry mustard, and red pepper in medium bowl. Stir in sausage mixture, milk, and cheese just until blended. Batter will be thick. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full, spreading batter to edges of cups. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly; remove from pan. Serve warm. 1 dozen muffins.

High altitude directions (3500 to 6500 feet) : Heat oven to 425 degrees. Bake about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cappuccino Brownies

Courtesy of my friend Elle, here is a ridiculous easy and absurdly rich brownie recipe. Since they are so rich, I cut them into 1-inch squares to serve

Cappuccino Brownies

1/4 c. hot water
1 tbsp. instant coffee
2 eggs
1 Duncan Hines fudge brownie mix
1/2 c. oil
1 c. cappuccino chips (or semi-sweet chocolate chips if you can't find cappuccino-flavored)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease pan for brownies (whichever size you prefer - use the box for reference). Using a whisk, blend coffee and water until completely dissolved. In a large bowl, stir all ingredients until just moistened. Pour in pan and bake according to directions.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Roasted Chickpeas

This is a favorite snack of mine, going back to my early days on Core. It is a super-easy recipe, and I keep a can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) in my pantry at all times just for this snack. Use whatever spice combination you like. I've used garam masala, cinnamon & chili powder, Cajun seasoning, and others.

Roasted Chickpeas

1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed & drained.
1 Tbsp. spice
olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 400. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray generously with olive oil spray. Put the beans on the sheet and spray again, then shake the pan to ensure an even coating. Sprinkle with spices and shake again. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until outsides are crispy and insides are soft, checking every ten minutes to shake pan.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chicken Roasted over Squash

Lately I have discovered the joys of winter squash, and have been searching for recipes that feature it. This Weight Watchers Core bake was a simple but yummy option. You can use any winter squash you like in this recipe. I used Golden Nugget, but butternut, acorn, or kabocha would work just as well.

Chicken Roasted over Squash

1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cut in 1/2-in pieces
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. salt
ground pepper to taste
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large skillet with canola spray. Over medium-high heat, cook onion, bell pepper, and squash, stirring until slightly softened, about 7-8 minutes. Stir in thyme, salt and pepper, until mixed. Mound mixture in center of 9x13 baking pan.

Place chicken over vegetables, covering them as much as possible. Stir together mustard and applesauce; brush over chicken. Bake until chicken is golden, about 50 minutes. Cut chicken and serve with vegetables.

Serves 8.

224 Cal, 7g Fat, 2g Sat Fat, 78mg chool, 320mg sodium, 14g carb, 2g fib, 27g protein, 51mg calcium

Roasted Tomato and Wild Rice Soup

Mmm... the picture in the Weight Watchers cookbook looked so good, I had to try it. I was not disappointed. The recipe calls for a fennel bulb, which I could not find. I substituted one leek, cleaned and diced, and a teaspoon of fennel seeds. The flavors are not intense, but they are complex. It's a very good soup, and easy to make.

Roasted Tomato and Wild Rice Soup

5 tsp. olive oil
2 carrots, diced
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed & diced
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
7 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup wild rice
1 bay leaf
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved

Heat 2 tsp of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots, fennel, onion, and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Add water, rice, bay leaf, and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until grains start to pop and rice is tender, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 475. Toss the tomatoes with the remaining oil and place cut-side down on a large cookie sheet. (Line with foil first.) Roasted until skins shrivel and just begin to brown, about 20 minutes.

Add roasted tomatoes and juices to skillet. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Serves 6.

144 Cal, 4g Fat, 1g Sat Fat, 530mg sodium, 24g carb, 4g fiber, 4g protein, 41mg calcium

New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

This is another recipe taken from Weight Watchers, and it is Core. I like that I only have to use a skillet, knife, and cutting board. You can use leftover rice, or do what I did - use the steam bags of brown rice from the freezer section. Cooks perfectly every time, and tastes better than it does when I cook it. You can use Canadian bacon instead of ham if you prefer a smokier taste.

2 c. brown rice
2 tsp. canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. ham steak, trimmed of fat and diced
1 15-oz can red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash to cut down on salt)
1/2 c. chicken broth

Cook rice according to package directions. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cook until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown, 4-5 minutes.

Add beans and Cajun seasoning; cook until heated through. Add rice and broth. Cook until liquid is almost absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Serves 6.

Spiced Pot Roast

When it comes to cooking a roast, I have tried a million different things, and I never make it the same twice. I've also never used a recipe, until now. I adapted this from a Weight Watchers cookbook to use my CrockPot. You can cook it with the vegetables, but I prefer to cook mine separately. Serve it with roasted potatoes and a salad. The leftovers are also perfect for vegetable beef soup (recipe to follow next week).

Spiced Pot Roast

1 1/2 pound lean eye of round roast, trimmed of all fat
1 14.5-oz can reduced-sodium beef broth
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 tsp. ground coriander
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground pepper

Spray a skillet with olive oil spray. Sear roast over high heat on all sides. Transfer to slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients. Cook on low 8-10 hours, or until meat is cooked.

Serves 6-8

Crab Chowder

This chowder goes together quickly, and has a gentle, mild flavor. It is also Weight Watchers friendly. I use imitation crabmeat, because it's hard to find the real stuff where I live. If you do use the real thing, be sure to carefully pick out all the cartilage.

Crab Chowder

1 tbsp. canola oil
1 large onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 medium red potatoes, diced in 1/2-in chunks
1 large carrot, grated
2 celery ribs, finely sliced
3 slices Canadian bacon, diced
1 15-oz can creamed corn
1 1/2 c. frozen corn
2 tsp. chicken bouillon
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
6 drops Tabasco sauce
1 tbsp. lemon juice
4 c. water
ground pepper to taste
1 c. crabmeat, flaked
1 14-oz can fat-free evaporated milk
2 tsp. dried parsley

In a large pot, heat oil. Saute onion, garlic, potatoes, celery, carrot, and Canadian bacon. Cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add corn, creamed corn, bouillon, sauces, lemon juice, water, and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cover. Simmer about 30 minutes, or until potato is cooked.

Add crab and cook until heated. Stir in evaporated milk and parley and cook one minute longer.

Serves 10.


You've got to love the name of this recipe I hijacked from Cathy Zielske's blog. And if you don't know who that is, don't worry - it just means you aren't a scrapbooker. But I digress.

The ingredient list is long, but don't stress. It's pretty easy to put together, and can simmer while you're doing other things. Just make sure your pot is large enough - I used the biggest one I own and it was a squeeze to get everything in there.

This broth-based soup will freeze well. It is loaded with fiber, and is great for chilly winter afternoons.


2 tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 4-oz can chopped green chilies
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. chili powder
salt & pepper to taste
3 c. cooked, shredded chicken
2 cartons chicken broth
1 1/2 c. frozen corn
3 15-oz cans navy beans, rinsed & drained
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed & drained
juice of 1-2 limes
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro (or 2 tbsp dried)
1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
lime wedges, tortilla chips (optional)

In a large pot, saute onions and green chilies in oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook one minute longer. Add dry spices, stirring until mixed well.

Add chicken, broth, corn, beans, lime juice and cilantro. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours. Before serving, add cheese. Stir until melted.

Serve with cheese, lime juice/wedges, and tortilla chips.

Serves 12.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Butternut Squash Fries

I have a new love... butternut squash! It's one of the great things about Weight Watchers. It has opened up an entire realm of foods I never considered - either because I didn't know how to cook it, thought I didn't like it, or just plain didn't know what it was.

Admittedly, the big squash a little hard to cut, but oh, my! it is good! I've been picking up butternut and acorn squash from the grocery store each week, and if all I do is bake and eat, I am one happy camper. I found this recipe from the Weight Watcher website, and adapted it a tiny bit to suit my spice preferences. It's soooo good, and good for you, too!

Butternut Squash Fries

1-lb butternut squash
1 tbsp. garam masala
1 tsp. sugar
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450. Cut the neck of the peeled squash into 1/2-in strips. You can cut up the bulb part, or reserve it for something else. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Arrange squash in rows so that they don't touch. Sprinkle with garam masala and sugar. Bake for 14-18 minutes, turning once, until fries are desired crispness. Serves 4

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sauerkraut Soup

Perfect for cold weather, this is an inexpensive-but-filling stoup (to borrow a Rachael Ray term). It's pretty thick, so feel free to add extra broth if you like.

Sauerkraut Soup

1 lb. smoked turkey sausage, cut in ½-in pieces
5 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed
2 medium onions, chopped
2 carrots, cut in ¼-in slices
3 cans (14 oz) chicken broth
1 can (32-oz) sauerkraut, rinsed & drained
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

In large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine sausage, potatoes, onions, carrots and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add sauerkraut and tomato paste; mix well. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30 minutes longer. If a thinner soup is desired, add additional water or chicken broth.

Serves 8-10.

Taco Casserole

Here's another old favorite that I tweaked to make it lower in calories and fat. Of course, feel free to use regular Doritos, regular cheese, and regular soup, if that's your cup of tea. It will taste every bit as good.

Taco Casserole

¾ lb. ground beef
1 c. brown rice, cooked
3 100-calorie packs Doritos, crushed
1 can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup
1 can fiesta nacho cheese soup
½ c. water
1 can Ro-Tel
1 ½ c. reduced-fat grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Brown hamburger. In a medium bowl, mix soups, Ro-Tel, and water. In a well-greased 2-qt casserole dish, layer hamburger, rice, cheese, chips, and soups. Bake 30 minutes.

Aimee's Mexican Chicken

This quick-n-easy skillet recipe came from my college roommate. It was perfect for us, because it isn't terribly expensive (you can use canned chicken if need be), it's idiot-proof, and it goes a long way. I've cooked it many times over the years. Occasionally I use brown rice instead of white, but other than that, I've made no changes - it's quite good as is.

Aimee’s Mexican Chicken

2 tbsp. butter
4 chicken breasts, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 can (14-oz) chicken broth
1 can (14-oz) tomato sauce
1 small can corn
1 pkg. taco seasoning
2 c. instant rice, uncooked
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet. Brown chicken and onion in butter, until chicken is cooked through. Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, corn and taco seasoning. Simmer until heated through. Add rice; cover and simmer 10 minutes, until rice is thoroughly cooked. Add pepper and cook 5 minutes on low heat. Sprinkle with cheese and serve with tortilla chips (optional)

Reuben Casserole

I really love a good Reuben. Sauerkraut, cheese, thousand island dressing, and corned beef doesn't sound like an especially good combination - but it's so yummy. This casserole is actually easier to assemble than a sandwich, and you can stick it in the fridge and eat from it for several days. Because there's no pre-cooking required, all you have to do is throw it in the dish and bake.

Word to the wise: get as much liquid from the sauerkraut as you possibly can so the dish doesn't become watery. Also, the stuff in the bag that's in the cooler section (usually by the hot dogs) is infinitely better than its canned counterpart. You can use low-fat 1000 Island dressing, but it doesn't taste as good. Reduced-fat Swiss is fine, if you can find it. I usually "butter" the bread with a low-cal butter spray instead of real butter.

Reuben Casserole

1 14-oz can sauerkrat, rinsed and drained
1 c. Thousand Island salad dressing
1 lb. thinly sliced deli corned beef, cut into strips
2 c. shredded Swiss cheese
4-6 slices rye bread, buttered

Preheat oven to 375. Combine sauerkraut and salad dressing; spread into a greased 9x13 dish. Top with corned beef and cheese. Place bread, buttered side up, over top. Bake, uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.

Menu #1

Since I am doing a week's worth of cooking in one day, I thought it might be nice to post my menus. Granted, I am new at this, and my technique needs refining. But still - spending 2-3 hours in the kitchen in one afternoon beats spending 45 minutes every night.

This is what I made today:

Chicken Crouton Hot Dish
Sauerkraut Soup
Taco Casserole
Aimee's Mexican Chicken
Reuben Casserole

And here's what I did to put it all together:

1. Put 1 lb chicken breasts in water to boil
2. Brown hamburger meat
3. Cook 1 cup rice
4. Assemble Reuben Casserole & put in oven.
5. Cut cooked chicken & assemble Chicken Crouton Hot Dish. Put in oven with Reuben Casserole. 6. Assemble Taco Casserole
7. Remove Reuben Casserole from oven and put in Taco Casserole.
8. Cut vegetables & sausage for Sauerkraut Soup & allow to simmer
9. Remove Chicken Crouton Hot Dish from oven
10. Clean skillet & dice chicken for Aimee's Mexican Chicken. Cook according to directions.
11. Remove Taco Casserole from oven
12. Add sauerkraut & tomato paste to soup
13. By now the Reuben Casserole has cooled enough to refrigerate
14. Start cleanup
15. Once cooled, all dishes can go into the fridge

It helps that I have made each of these dishes multiple times, so I am familiar with the process. I spent about 3 hours from start to finish. Thankfully, the dishwasher took care of most of the cleanup!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pork Chop & Rice Casserole

Mom first made this in my pre-teen years, and it's one of those rare recipes that I've never bothered to tweak. It's perfect as-is, and because it goes together easily and cooks in the oven for two hours, it's a good choice for company. You only need to add a salad and dinner rolls for a complete meal. We make it with pork chops or chicken - you can decide whichever you prefer. It will last a week in the refrigerator, and reheats beautifully. A word to the wise - make sure you grease the casserole dish very well, or the rice will be a sticky gooey mess that you won't enjoy cleaning up.

Pork Chop and Rice Casserole

2 c. uncooked long grain rice
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
6 pork chops, thin loin
1 can cream mushroom soup
1 can chicken gumbo soup
Salt and pepper
3 c. water

Preheat oven to 350. Spread rice evenly in bottom of well-greased 9x13 dish. Sprinkle with ¼ soup mix. Place pork on rice. Sprinkle with remaining soup mix and salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, combine soups and water. Blend well and pour over pork chops. Cover with foil and bake two hours. Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Amanda's Chili

There aren't too many recipes for which I claim total credit, but this is definitely one of them. I've experimented for several years, and developed a chili recipe that is Weight Watchers Core, very filling, and somewhat reminiscient of the flavor of Wendy's chili. For you vegetarian-types, this is a great recipe for TVP or soy crumbles.

I make it at least once a month during the winter, and it freezes quite well. Dip two cups into a quart-size ziploc bag, squeeze out all the air, and lay it flat on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, stand the the bag on its side in the freezer and it takes up almost no room.

Amanda's Chili

1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted is best)
1 15-oz. can pinto beans, undrained
1 15-oz. can dark red kidney beans, undrained
1 4-oz can chopped green chilies
Black pepper to taste
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin to taste
1/8 tsp. cayenne

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Over medium heat, cook onion and garlic until transluscent. Transfer to large Dutch oven. Brown hamburger in skillet and add to onion. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Serve with sour cream and cheese.

Curried Turkey

I've been busy today, folks - and this week I stuck mostly with the tried-and-true, and only made one new recipe. This particular recipe is easily one of my favorites. It has almost zero fat, and the smell wafting from the kitchen is postively divine. I use leftover turkey around Thanksgiving, and turkey cutlets the rest of the year. Serve it up with brown rice, and you have a delish recipe that fits the Weight Watchers Core program, and is plenty "fancy" to serve up to guests.

Curried Turkey

1 lb. turkey breast, diced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cans (15-oz) petite diced tomatoes
2 tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. thyme
Black pepper to taste
½ c. water

Brown turkey in oil. Remove using slotted spoon. Sauté onion, pepper and garlic in juices until tender. Add tomatoes, seasonings and water. Cook until heated through. Pour into 2 ½ qt. casserole dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Cover and bake at 375 for 45-55 minutes. Serve with brown rice.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

White Punch

Perfect for a wedding, baby shower, or brunch, this punch is the easiest thing in the world to put together. Unlike other varieties, it doesn't stain clothing as easily, which makes it a good choice for events with small children running around. It's a light and refreshing punch, one that I could drink just about any day of the week. For you non-alcoholic types, it's a good choice for a "champange" toast at a wedding.

If you like, you can make an ice ring from fruit to decorate the punch bowl. Using a bundt or angel food cake pan, arrange fruit in a layer about two inches thick (choose the fruit to match your theme - anything goes). Gently pour enough water to just cover the fruit, and freeze overnight. In the morning, set the pan in hot water long enough to loosen the ice, and add it to the punch bowl.

White Punch

White grape juice
Ginger ale

Chill equal amounts of both liquids, and mix just before serving.

Iced Coffee

At the risk of insulting your intelligence, I'd like to share with you my formula for a tasty-as-Starbucks morning eye opener. Let me say this, though - please use good coffee. Folgers just doesn't count. I like to buy a whole-bean espresso roast. Great Value (Wal-Mart brand) makes one that is very good, but also affordable, and quite comparable to the Starbucks blends. Of course, if you have the moolah, splurge on the best coffee you can find.

Iced Coffee

At night, brew 4 cups of very strong coffee. Sweeten as desired (I use four packets of Splenda) and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, add 1 c. milk and 1 T. flavored coffee syrup. Add half a tray of ice cubes and stir. It fits quite nicely into a 52-oz Bubba Keg, if you don't want to share.

...A word about the coffee syrup: I use DaVinci brand, although there are several others out there. They have a ton of flavors, several in sugar-free versions. Caramel, Hazelnut, and Kahlua are some of my favorites. They also have watermelon and peanut butter, but I wouldn't recommend using those in your coffee unless you are more adventurous than I am!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Baked Spaghetti

I have been remiss in not sharing this with you. I found the recipe in a Light & Tasty magazine. It has all the comfort qualities of good old lasagna, without all the hassle. (I know how commercial-esque that sounded. Bear with me!) It makes up a ton, reheats very well, will easily last a week in the fridge, and if you use the right ingredients, is even Weight Watcher friendly at 7 points a serving. I have not tried freezing this one, but I suspect it would freeze as well as lasagna does.

Baked Spaghetti

1 lb. 96% lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 c. Ragu No Sugar Added Tomato & Basil Sauce
4 c. 1% low-fat cottage cheese
2 c.part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
½ c. reduced-fat Parmesan topping, divided
12 oz. whole wheat angel hair pasta

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook beef, onion, and garlic until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the spaghetti sauce and heat through.

In a large bowl, combine cottage cheese, 1 ½ c. mozzarella and ¼ c. Parmesan.

Drain spaghetti.

Spread 1 cup of meat sauce in a 9x13 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer with half the spaghetti, half the cheese, and half the remaining meat sauce. Repeat layers. (Dish will be very full, and you may have to press it down with a spatula to make it all fit.)

Cover and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through and cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 10, 7 WWP per serving.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ranch Chicken & Rice

Here's an easy-peasy casserole that is kid-friendly. In fact, I almost feel like I'm cheating when I make it, because it goes together so quickly. It's one of Jeff's favorites.

Ranch Chicken & Rice

2 c uncooked instant rice
1 1/2 c milk
1 c water
1 1-oz pkg ranch salad dressing mix
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in 1/2-in strips
1/4 c. butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a shallow 2-qt with Crisco. Add rice to dish, spreading it out evenly. In a bowl, combine the milk, water, and salad dressing mix; set aside 1/4 cup. Pour remaining mixture over rice. Top with chicken strips. Drizzle with butter and reserved milk mixture. Cover and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until rice is tender and chicken juices run clear. Sprinkle with paprika.

Curried Coconut Chicken

These days, anything with coconut in it attracts my attention, and this recipe just sounded so intriguing to me. I will warn you - it's not for the faint of heart. The recipe instructs you to heat oil and curry powder in a skillet. Be careful, because oil will burn quickly. It's not advisable to use olive oil for this, because it burns more easily than other oils. Vegetable oil is your best bet.

Don't be scared, though - once you get past the beginning, it's easy as can be, and it has a wonderful flavor. You can serve it with rice, couscous, flat breads, or veggies. Enjoy!

Oh, and a word to the wise - make sure you buy coconut milk, not coconut cream or cream of cocnut. I always find it in the ethnic foods section.

Curried Coconut Couscous

2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-in chunks
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-oz can coconut milk
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted are best)
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
3 tbsp sugar (optional)

In a large skillet, heat oil and curry powder over medium heat for two minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in onions and garlic; cook for additional 5-7 minutes, or until onion is soft and turns clear. (Add more oil if necessary.) Add chicken, tossing to coat in oil and and cook for 7-10 minutes, or until juices run clear.

Add coconut milk, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and sugar (if desired) into pan, stirring to combine. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Aromatic Couscous & Veggies

This is one of those rare recipes that I just keep coming back to. As much as I love to experiment, this one is a standby. Depending on the season, you can vary the vegetables used to make it more cost-effective. It's a vegetarian dish, but you don't miss the meat in the slightest. If you can find them, use fire-roasted diced tomatoes to really boost the flavor.

Aromatic Couscous & Veggies

3/4 c. orange juice
1/2 c. water
3/4 tsp. salt
1 c. whole-wheat couscous
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 med. zucchini, cut into 1/4-in pieces
1 med. yellow squash, cut into 1/4-in pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes

Bring the orange juice, water, and salt to boil in a small saucepan. Add couscous, cover, and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, squash, onion, pepper, garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, and cayenne. Cook, stirring frequently, until veggies begin to soften. Add chickpeas and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Fluff couscous and stir into veggie mixture.

Serves 4.
366 cal, 7g fat, 11g fiber

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Penne with Peppers and Sausage

Mmm-mmm tasty! It smells wonderful cooking, it pretty easy to throw together, and reheats well. Plus it's good for you. If you can find them, use fire-roasted diced tomatoes. They add greatly to the flavor. Adapted from Weight Watchers online, here is:

Penne with Peppers and Sausage

1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 orange bell pepper, julienned
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 c. mushrooms, sliced
1 lb. turkey sausage, spicy-Italian flavor
1/8 tsp dried oregano
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
3 c. cooked whole wheat penne

Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Cook pepper, onion, garlic, and mushrooms until almost tender (7-8 minutes).

Remove turkey sausage from casings; add to skillet and brown until no longer pink. Break up with a spoon as it cooks. Add oregano, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes; stir in tomatoes. Simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Gently stir in pasta. If desired, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6

Monday, September 22, 2008

Curried Fruit & Chicken Salad

Lately I've been on a tropical kick - weird, because I've never cared much for pineapple or coconut. I found this unusual chicken salad recipe, adapted it a bit to lower calories, and fell in love. The flavors are complex and the textures are great. This is definitely on my re-make list.

Curried Fruit & Chicken Salad

3/4 c. fat-free mayonnaise
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. lemon juice
4 c. diced cooked chicken
2 c. seedless grapes, halved
1 c. pineapple chunks
1/2 c. water chestnuts (chopped)
1/2 c. coconut
chopped almonds, optional

In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, curry powder, soy sauce and lemon juice. Stir in chicken, grapes, pineapple, and water chestnuts. Chill. Before serving, garnish with coconut & almonds.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Beef Stew

Mmmm... I've had this recipe for years, and it is the ultimate fall stew. Because the original version was stovetop and seriously labor-intensive, I adapted it for the slow cooker. The addition of tapioca gives the broth a nice, thick consistency. It freezes well. If you are lucky enough to have space for one of the really big slow cookers, double the recipe and freeze half for later. It keeps well in the fridge for up to a week, and is a good choice for camping trips.

Beef Stew

1 lb stew meat
2 cans V8 juice
2 tbsp. dry tapioca
1/2 cup choppped onion
2 tbsp. beef boullion granules
2 cloves minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp thyme
2 c. sliced carrots (or baby carrots)
3 c. diced potatoes
1 c. diced celery

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Mix well. Cook on low for at least 8 hours. (This will vary, depending on how fast your "slow" cooker cooks! I always let mine go for 10 hours.) Discard bay leaf before serving.

Italian Chicken Soup

I adapted this somewhat from a Taste of Home cookbook. Don't let the long ingredient list fool you - this is simple, down-home cooking - and yet it has an elegance to it that makes it an equally good choice for entertaining or sitting down with a blanket and a book. Sprinkle on some Romano or fresh Parmesan if you like.

Italian Chicken Soup

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 c. vegetable broth
2 tsp low-sodium chicken bouillon granules
2 bay leaves
1 can (15 oz) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
6 green onions, sliced
½ c chopped fresh parsley (may use dried instead, but decrease amount)
¼ c ketchup
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
½ tsp dried basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp pepper
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed & drained

In a large Dutch oven, combine spices, broth, tomatoes, parsley, onions and ketchup. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; leaving cover ajar, simmer for 30 minutes. Add beans and chicken, heat through. Discard bay leaves before serving.

Chicken Crouton Hot Dish

I don't remember where this came from, but it's an easy favorite that I've made at least a half-dozen times - at my house, making anything more than once means it is a keeper. This is comfort food at its finest. Substituting turkey for the chicken is a great alternative, and you can use fat-free sour cream, reduced-fat soup, and "diet" butter without affecting the taste of texture.

Chicken Crouton Hot Dish

14.5 oz can chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz sour cream
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 14-oz package seasoned stuffing cubes
4 c. shredded cooked chicken

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, whisk together broth, soup, sour cream and butter. Stir in croutons and chicken. Transfer to a greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Veggie Lentil Stew

This is a hoss of a recipe. It looks like a lot of ingredients, and I suppose it is - but it's so easy to put together. It makes a ton, freezes well, and couldn't be healthier. Plus it's incredibly filling, and perfect for a cool autumn day. From the Taste of Home Big Book of Soup cookbook, I give you:

Veggie Lentil Stew

4 c. V8 or tomato juice
2 14.5-oz cans Italian stewed tomatoes (I used diced instead)
1 16-oz can kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 c. dried lentils, rinsed
2 tbsp. minced parsley
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed

1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. plain yogurt
2 tbsp. snipped chives

In a Dutch oven, combine first 15 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 35-45 minutes, or until lentils and veggies are tender. Stir in spinach; heat through.

Combine topping ingredients and dollop about 1 tbsp on each serving.

Serves 13.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Frito Corn Salad

I had this at a church potluck, and searched all over the web until I found the recipe. I modified it to make it more WW-friendly. It needs no spices - all the flavor comes from the Fritos. Don't ask me how long it will keep in the fridge - I will be surprised if it makes it through tomorrow!

2 c. frozen corn, thawed
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 c. reduced-fat Mexican blend shredded cheese
2/3 c. fat-free mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip)
Chili Cheese Fritos

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients except Fritos. Immediately before serving, measure 1 cup of the Fritos, crush, and stir into the salad. (If you are not eating it all at once, use a little less than 1/4 cup per serving.)

Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Southwestern Chicken & Bean Salad

Here's another Weight Watchers recipe. Even though the ingredients are very similar to the previous recipe, it has a totally different flavor. This makes them perfect to cook at the same time, especially for weekend cooking. It also keeps well in the fridge.

2 medium scallions, chopped
1/2 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
15 oz canned black beans, rinsed & drained
1/2 c. frozen corn, thawed
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz cooked chicken breast (skinless), diced
2 tbsp. reduced-sodium taco seasoning
4 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro (or 2 tsp dried)
4 tbsp. fat-free sour cream

Combine scallions, peppers, beans corn, and chicken in a large bowl; toss until well mixed.

In a small bowl, combine lime juice, oil, taco seasoning, and cilantro. Add to chicken mixture; toss to mix well. Top with sour cream and serve.

Serves 4 (1 1/2 c. salad + 1 tbsp sour cream per serving)
WW points: 5

Tropical Black Beans and Rice

I adapted this from the Weight Watchers website. It is a wonderful, filling vegetarian meal. You will never miss the meat! Cook a large pot of brown rice and keep it separate in the fridge. This will keep for several days and is a good choice for those of you who like to do most of your cooking on the weekend.

Tropical Black Beans and Rice

2 tsp olive oil
1/2 c. red onion, chopped
1/2 c orange juice
1/3 c fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 medium red pepper, diced
1/2 medium green pepper, diced
1 medium mango, diced (or papaya, or 20 oz canned pineapple, drained)
2 garlic cloves, minced
15 oz canned black beans, rinsed & drained
3 c. cooked brown rice

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add oil and heat over medium heat until sizzling. Add all ingredients except beans and rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in beans. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve over rice.

Serves 4 (3/4 c. rice and 1 cup bean mixture)
6 WW points

(The picture shows Canadian bacon, which I threw in because I had it on hand and needed to use it.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cinnamon-Orange Turkey Scaloppini

Don't be afraid - the combination of cinnamon and citrus is a delightful one. I served this with spaghetti the night I made it, and put it on a salad the next day. It's a very tasty and healthy way to cook turkey cutlets.

Cinnamon-Orange Turkey Scaloppini

4 6-oz turkey cutlets
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
salt & pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 c. orange juice
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Combine cinnamon and garlic with salt and pepper; rub over both sides of turkey cutlets. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the seasoned cutlets, and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned on outside, but not fully cooked. Remove from pan and set aside; keep warm.

Pour orange and lemon juices into pan, stirring any bits of food that are stuck to the pan. Bring to a boil and return turkey to pan. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until liquid has reduced by half, 10-15 minutes. Serve cutlets with sauce spooned over.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Spicy Sweet & Sour Beef

I love my one-pot meals! I adapted this from another recipe to better suit my tastes. It's healthy and counts as a Weight Watchers Core recipe. This freezes well.

Spicy Sweet & Sour Beef

1 1/2 c. instant brown rice, uncooked
3/4 lb. lean ground beef
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped in 1/2-in pieces
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 orange bell pepper, julienned
1 8-oz can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 20-oz can crushed pineapple (in juice), drained
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 tbsp. garlic-ginger stir fry sauce
1 tsp. ginger
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
dash cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste

Cook rice according to package directions. In a large skillet, cook ground beef. Drain and set aside. Heat oil in skillet and saute onion and peppers until tender.

Stir in water chestnuts, pineapple, soy sauce, garlic-ginger sauce, spices, and vinegar. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce thickens, about five minutes. Stir in rice.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chunky Veggie Toss

The beauty of a recipe like this is that you can adapt it to suit your personal tastes. Change the veggies to your heart's content. It does taste better as the flavors have time to meld, and will last for a few days in the fridge.

Chunky Veggie Toss

1 yellow bell pepper
1 cucumber
1 red onion
1 head broccoli
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. dried parsley flakes
dash garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste

Cut pepper, cucumber and onion into 1/2-inch pieces. Divide broccoli into small pieces. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and toss well. Refrigerate immediately.

Tex-Mex Sweet & Red Potato Salad

This yummy salad recipe hails from the Weight Watchers Turnaround cookbook. It's delicious warm or cold. If your oven doesn't always cook evenly, I recommend boiling the potatoes for five minutes before roasting.

Tex-Mex Sweet and Red-Potato Salad

1 lb. new potatoes, cut in 1 ½ inch cubes
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 ½ inch cubes
4 tsp. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
6 tbsp. fat-free mayonnaise
3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. coriander
1/8 tsp. cayenne

Preheat oven to 425. Spray a large jelly-roll pan with nonstick spray. Combine the red and sweet potatoes with 2 tsp of oil in a large bowl; arrange in a single layer in the pan. Roast, tossing occasionally, until well browned and tender, 35-40 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, 12-15 minutes. Transfer to bowl with potatoes. Combine mayonnaise, cilantro, lemon zest, salt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne in a small bowl. Add to the potato mixture and mix well. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

I love easy recipes, and it's hard to beat a slow cooker for easy cuisine. I had it in the crockpot in less than five minutes, and for a busy week like this one has been, little could make me happier. Even better - this is a good-for-you concoction that even the kidlets should enjoy.

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 package taco seasoning
1 c. salsa
1 can 98% fat-free cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. reduced-fat sour cream

Place chicken in crockpot (you may have to cut it in large chunks to make it fit). Sprinkle taco seaoning over chicken. Pour in salsa and soup. Cook on low for 4-8 hours (time will depend on how fast your crockpot cooks). When chicken is done, remove from pot and shred. Return to sauce, stir in sour cream, and cook for 15 minutes more. Serve with rice.

Serves 4-6

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tangy Mexican Couscous

I love it when an experiment goes well. I've had a ton of couscous (special ordered from my Weight Watchers days), so I am frequently looking for ways to use it. This is a simple, healthy, and tasty dish. Feel free to adjust spices as desired - I'm the kind who never measures spices. Add black beans for even more nutrients. You can use any veggies you like, and if you prefer a more muted lime flavor, reduce the lime juice to 1/4 c. and increase the water to 1 cup.

Tangy Mexican Couscous

1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 onion
1 zucchini
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cilantro
1/2 tsp. oregano
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 c. water
1/2 c. lime juice
1 c. couscous
1 carton cherry tomatoes, quartered

Dice vegetables into 1-inch pieces. In a bowl, toss with spices and olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees.

When vegetables are nearly done, bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. When boiling, add lime juice and couscous. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes to a large bowl and toss with cooked veggies. With a fork, fluff couscous and mix with vegetables. Serves 4.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Curried Chicken Salad

This is a favorite of mine, especially in the summer heat. I like to use rotisserie chicken (skin removed) - there is a great variety of flavors, and you don't have to heat up the kitchen to use it. The combination of grapes, carrots and celery make it a refreshing and tasty lunch. If you like, add a tablespoon of chopped pecans. I adapted this recipe from a Weight Watchers cookbook.

Curried Chicken Salad with Grapes

2 c. shredded cooked skinless chicken breast
20 small seedless grapes, halved
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1/2 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 onion, grated
1/4 - 1/2 c. plain fat-free Greek-style yogurt
1/4 c. reduced-fat Miracle Whip
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
4 c. mesclun salad greens

Combine chicken, grapes, carrot, celery, parsley, and lemon juice in medium bowl.Combine onion, yogurt, curry powder, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Pour over the chicken mixture and toss to combine. Divide mesclum among 4 salad plates and top with chicken salad. Serves 4.

PER SERVING: 171 cal, 4g fat, 2g fiber. 3 WW pts

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

This is officially the weirdest recipe I've ever tried. I cannot begin to fathom the creative process that put sauerkraut, cranberry sauce, and spaghetti sauce together. It is totally beyond my comprehension. In fact, it was so strange, I just had to try it. The result? It's delicious. Really - but don't take my word for it. You really should give this a try.

Besides being utterly yummy, it's unbelievably easy to put together - toss a few ingredients in the crockpot and go away. I'm all for anything that involves less work! I served this with rice and came away quite satisfied. Give it a shot - I promise the flavors work better than you would ever believe.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

2-3 lb. frozen cooked meatballs
1 15-oz can sauerkraut (do not drain)
1 15-oz can cranberry sauce
1 small jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 c. brown sugar

Put frozen meatballs in crockpot set to low. In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour over meatballs and cook for 3-4 hours, or until heated through. Serve with rice.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fiesta Skillet Dinner

I am a big fan of one-pot meals, so we eat a lot of casseroles and skillet dinners. This one reminded me somewhat of a chicken recipe that came from my roommate, and I was not at all disappointed in the results. I did a little tweaking to add vegetables. I also added about 2 cups of water to make it saucier and served it over crushed tortilla chips.

Fiesta Skillet Dinner

1 lb. ground turkey or beef
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 package taco seasoning
1 1/2 c. water
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
1 c. frozen corn
1 1/2 c. uncooked instant rice
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered (optional)
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, cook turkey and onion until meat is no longer pink; drain if necessary. Stir in taco seasoning, water, zucchini, tomatoes, and corn. Bring to a boil; add rice. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Stir in tomatoes and cheese, just until cheese melts.

Adapted from

Monday, June 23, 2008

Shepherd's Inn Breakfast Casserole

I have a special place in my heart for breakfast casseroles - the kind that include meat, potatoes or rice, cheese, eggs, and lots of flavor. It's a versatile class of food, the kind that can be eaten any time of the day and on any occasion. When I tried this recipe from the Taste of Home Casserole Cookbook, I knew I had a winner. Jeff confirmed my assessment by eating half the casserole in one sitting! It really couldn't be yummier. To reduce calories and fat, use low-fat turkey sausage, reduced-fat cheese, and egg substitute.

Shepherd's Inn Breakfast Casserole

1 1/2 lbs. bulk sausage
26-oz bag frozen tater tots
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
4 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
salt & pepper to taste
sliced tomatoes

Brown sausage and drain. Transfer to greased 9x13 casserole dish. Cover with tater tots. Sprinkle cheese over tots. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, milk, and seasonings. Pour over cheese. Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 25 minutes more, until heated through. Garnish with tomatoes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chicken Spaghetti Toss

It's unbelievable how much flavor comes from a recipe so simple. While it's best fresh, the leftovers are still quite yummy. I tripled the amount of lemon, since I like the tartness.

Chicken Spaghetti Toss

1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
2 tbsp. olive oil
1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
3 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. freshly ground sea salt
1/4 tsp. dried lemon peel
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
7 oz. angel hair spaghetti

In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic in butter and oil until tender. Stir in chicken, lemon juice, parsley, salt, lemon peel, and black pepper. Saute for 15-20 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain. Add to chicken mixture and toss to coat.

Adapted from Quick Cooking Annual Recipes 2003