Sunday, November 30, 2008

Yes, it really is LIGHT

Who would have thought that Fettuccini Alfredo could be light, or healthy? Well, leave it to Weight Watchers to be able to make a favorite dish lighter in calories and fat. I thought for sure Jason would grumble and groan about making a fat laden dish light, but he really enjoyed it! So did I considering I am not a huge fan of alfredo. I will eat it, but I don't make it very often, except that one other time (see old blog entry).

I altered this recipe slightly. It called for rubbing the chicken with whole garlic cloves. I love garlic, so I ended up using minced and kept it in the sauce. It turned out great! Also, believe it or not, the pasta doesn't taste like "whole wheat". Once it's covered in the sauce, nobody would really even know it was the healthier stuff.

I had never cooked or eaten Greek yogurt before, but it really added a zip and creaminess to this sauce. My local grocery store didn't carry it, so I had to make a special trip to Whole Foods. Now I will have to find another recipe that uses Greek yogurt. I suppose I could just eat it plain though, maybe with a little honey.

I hope you enjoy this lighter version of alfredo. Now, don't go mess it up by eating a piece of cheesecake for dessert or anything. Unless it's a healthy cheesecake : )

Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo
from: Weight Watchers with my alterations

6 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, washed and patted dry (four 4 oz pieces)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
cooking spray
1/2 cup canned chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt, Greek style
8 oz. whole-wheat pasta, fettuccini or spaghetti
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium low heat. Spray with cooking spray. Saute garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken and cook until golden, flipping once, about 5 minutes per side.

2. In a small bowl, combine broth, heavy cream and yogurt; pour over chicken and scrape bottom of pan with a spoon to incorporate seasonings. Simmer chicken gently, turning once, about 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

4. Remove chicken from cream sauce and set aside. Add Parmesan cheese to sauce and mix until well combined. Add cooked pasta and toss well. Serve pasta topped with chicken.

That green stuff in the picture? That's a big ole pile of cooked spinach. Mmmmm!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Salad

I don't know how your family works, but in mine, we never had salad with Thanksgiving dinner. But, that's okay. I realize that not everyone is like my family. This year, I went over to my in-laws house for Thanksgiving where they typically host about 30 people. It was a slightly smaller crowd this year with only 20. It's similar to a potluck style where everyone brings a side dish. I was assigned to a fruit salad. Again, this is not something that I would have grown up with.

Being a rebel and a rule-breaker like I am, I decided to do a salad with fruit in it but not a traditional fruit salad. Make sense? So, I purused (is that a word?) All Recipes and found the salad below. Hey, it's got fruit in it! Doesn't that typically make it a fruit salad? Like I said, I am a rebel.

The salad below isn't from Weight Watchers, as most of my recipes have been lately. Instead, this one is from All Recipes, but if you use low fat yogurt in place of full fat, it is very healthy. I tasted some (bad Pachey!) to see if it was sweet enough, and yum!!! The cranberries were not tart at all.

I would suggest putting the cranberries in a food processor to chop them. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to sit there and chop that many cranberries. The picture didn't turn out so well, but I think the resulting salad is very pretty!

So, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you enjoy your holiday. Check back with me at a later time to see just how much people liked my salad. It's a little "exotic" for my husband's family, but oh well. Rebel!

Cranberry Waldorf Salad

1.5 cups chopped cranberries
1 cup chopped red apple
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 container (8 oz) vanilla yogurt

1. Combine cranberries, apple, celery, grapes, raisins, walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and yogurt. Toss to coat. Cover and chill 2 hours.
2. Stir just before serving. Garnish with frosted cranberries and mint leaves if desired. For frosted cranberries, wet cranberry and roll in sugar.

Let There be Leftovers

A few days ago, I was working from home, and wanted something sweet. It took me all day to figure out what to make, and as soon as I logged off from work, I got busy in the kitchen. I had leftover applesauce and some sour cream that I needed to use up, so....enter the cake.

I found this recipe in my box and I had never made it before. It contained applesauce, sour cream and regular, standard baking staples. It sounded easy enough, and tasty (obviously a requirement), so I went to work.

In the end, this made a moist, sweet cake. I am not sure why it's titled a coffee cake, because it didn't seem very coffee cake-like. Oh well. It was still good. I cut it into 16 small pieces right when it cooled out of the oven. That way, I wouldn't eat too big of a serving size. If I hadn't cut the cake this way, I would have ended up eating half of the pan at once! So, portion control people!

The only thing I did differently to this recipe was add a tiny bit of nutmeg. I always think cinnamon and nutmeg go well together, so I put some in there. Guess what? It was good. ::Pat on the back for Pachey::

This cake gets an A in my grading criteria. It used up leftover ingredients from my refrigerator, it was easy to make, tasted good and healthy. Yes, a cake can be healthy. It really is possible.

So, next time you have leftovers in your pantry or fridge, don't throw them out. Put them to good use! You just may end up with a tasty treat like the one below.

Applesauce Sour Cream Coffee Cake

from: Weight Watchers

1.5 cups flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fat-free sour cream
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Stir together sour cream, oil, and applesauce in a small bowl. Stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture just to mix (do not beat).

3. Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake about 40 to 45 minutes. Allow cake to cool to warm or room temperature before slicing into 16 pieces.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Italian Night

Tonight was pasta night in our home. I don't think I can go a week without eating some sort of pasta. The only requirement is that the pasta have tomatoes (for me) and meat (for my husband). I don't always meet these requirements, but tonight I did.

I think I may have said this before, but if I could, I seriously would eat pasta every night. Every single night. I wouldn't get bored with it. What can I say? I am a carb girl. Jason on the other hand, could eat steak and potatoes every night. To each is own right?

The package of sausage that I bought was a pound, so I have leftovers, which is great. Sausage and pasta for me another night! If you like a lot of heat in your food, I would suggest using hot Italian sausage rather than mild. I couldn't find crushed fire roasted tomatoes at my grocery store, so I used diced instead. It worked out great because the sauce ended up being a little more chunky.

I made the pasta al dente because it soaks up a lot of the juice from the sauce. However, it is your preference how you like your pasta! I didn't have any whole wheat rotini on hand, but for the portion size that you are eating (if you follow the Weight Watchers portion size, which is 1 and 1/3 cup), it's okay to use regular pasta. Whole wheat would be delicious though.

This makes tons, and I sectioned up the portions into little containers. That way, for dinner this week, I can take out a pre-measured container and heat it up. Add a green salad and you have a healthy dinner.
Who would have thought that eating healthy could be so yummy? I know it's a cliche, but I really do enjoy looking for foods that are good for you and taste good as well. I think I have found a good one with this recipe. Now, if I could just find a healthy and low-fat cupcake recipe, I would be all set! Enjoy!

Italian Sausage and Pepper Pasta
from: Weight Watchers

1/2 pound raw turkey sausage, Italian-style, casings removed
2 teaspoons olive oil, extra-virgin
2 medium yellow peppers, cut into long thin strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red wine
1.5 tablespoon minced garlic
28 oz. canned crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted if you can find them
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 oz. whole-wheat rotini pasta (or fusilli)
1/3 cup basil, fresh, chopped
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, to make sauce, in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage, stirring and breaking up meat with back of a spoon, until cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes; remove to a plate.

3. Heat oil in same skillet. Add peppers and onion; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are lightly colored and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

4. Add wine and garlic; cook until most of liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, crushed red pepper, salt and browned sausage; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender and sauce is heated through, about 10 minutes.

5. While sauce simmers, add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta, return to pot. Add sauce and basil; toss to mix and coat.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

We Have a Winner!

Well, we are back from Disney World. We ate a lot, although the food wasn't very good, and walked even more. Even though I wasn't watching what I was eating while on vacation, I still managed to lose about 1.5 pounds. Must have been all the walking and 85 degree weather!

Now that I am back from being a glutton, it's back to cooking healthy. The recipe below has been going around The Nest for quite some time, but I haven't made it before now. I can't believe I haven't tried it before! It is seriously my new favorite recipe. It was absolutely delicious, and believe it or not: Healthy! Depending on the type of soup and sour cream you use, it's very low in fat but it delivers on taste, that's for sure.

I can't rave about this one enough. The chicken was perfectly cooked, it had the right amount of zip from the salsa, and it was creamy! I might have to hide the leftovers from my husband, otherwise, I won't get any of them.

Introducing: Salsa Chicken! This is sure to become a regular visitor at my house.

I used three chicken breasts because they were so big, and then cut them in half (the recipe makes 6 servings). If you prefer a spicier dish, I would recommend medium or hot salsa instead of mild. I served it over white rice, but brown rice, egg noodles or another pasta would work well also.

What could be easier than dumping all the ingredients in a crockpot? Well, nothing really. This truly is an easy dinner, and very very delicious!

Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken
from: Spark People

4 bonless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup salsa
1 package taco seasoning
1 can reduced fat (98% fat free) cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

Add chicken to slow cooker. Sprinkle taco seasoning over chicken. Pour salsa and soup over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Whole Enchilada

Well, this isn't really an enchilada, but whatever. I say the whole enchilada because this recipe has got the whole package: Carbs, veggies, meat and dairy. It's the perfect balanced meal. Pssst. It's healthy too. Granted, it isn't healthy if you eat the whole pan, but if you stick to the serving size, it is. This casserole serves 8, and I must say, the portions are very large. You won't go hungry eating this dish.

Here's how it's healthy. You use very lean ground beef, and then to top it off, drain off what little fat is left. It's chock full of beans and tomatoes, which are high in fiber and vitamins. The cheese is low-fat. Don't scrimp and use fat-free. The result is a weird rubbery consistency. The 2% fat cheese works perfect. The tortillas are good because they are corn, which is lower in calories and fat than a flour tortilla.

It's tasty, it makes a lot and it's healthy! What could be better? Unless you like Tabasco, and then add some! We do and it's delish. Yes, I realize it looks strange in the picture. I have never met a casserole that looks pretty.
FYI, it's a short blog this week because I am getting over a cold and not feeling up to par.
FYII, I won't be blogging next week because I will be meeting the Mouse in DisneyWorld.

Happy Anniversary to us!

Layered Tortilla Bake

1 pound very lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, Mexican style
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chiles (mild)
1 package Taco seasoning mix
1 package (10 oz) corn tortillas
1 cup (4 oz) shredded low-fat cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown meat in large nonstick skillet; drain well.

2. Mix in beans, tomatoes, chiles and taco seasoning. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.

3. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut tortillas in half, place half of them in bottom of baking dish, overlapping.

4. Spoon half of meat mixture evenly over tortillas. Cover with remaining tortillas and then remaining meat mixture. Top with cheese. Cover; bake 25 minutes.