Monday, December 22, 2008

Chicken and Potatoes

I have been on a blog hiatus for a while. Mostly because of the holidays. I didn't cook or bake much over the holidays. I figure if I baked, I would just eat it all, which wouldn't be good for my New Year's Resolutions.

Who made New Year's Resolutions this year? I did! One of mine is to continue on with my healthy eating path and lose some more weight. Again, with the holidays, I plateaued for a while. That's okay because I am back on track and am on the road to a loss.

The recipe below is one I found while looking online for healthy recipes. My husband is a meat and potatoes guy, so this was perfect! It had all the elements of a yummy dinner: Tomatoes, meat, potatoes and spicy. I couldn't believe how good this tasted considering it's healthy! I really shouldn't be surprised any more because I have been proven time and time again that eating healthy CAN taste good.

This is a recipe from Cooking Light. Can I just say how excited I am that I received not only a year subscription to Cooking Light magazine, but I also received their 2008 Cookbook! I have been having a really good time going through all the recipes and bookmarking the ones I want to make. Stay tuned for some amazing recipes through this year.

This dish takes some unusual ingredients, but if you have a well stocked pantry, you should be okay. I had to buy some of the items, but most of them I had on hand. Splurge and buy good quality pepperoncini and kalamata olives. That way, you can store them in the fridge and use them again for another dish.

I particularly liked this dish because it didn't use up many dishes. It used a baking pan for the potatoes, and also the pot it cooked in, but other than that, not much clean up!

Enjoy my first post of 2009. Here's to healthy eating this year!

Mediterranean Chicken with Potatoes
from: Cooking Light (online)

4 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
12 small red potatoes, halved (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Cooking spray
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup vertically sliced red onion
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped pepperoncini peppers
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
2 cups chopped plum tomato
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Thyme sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine 2 teaspoons garlic, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and potatoes on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until tender.

Heat a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add half of chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until browned. Remove chicken from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken; remove from pan.

Add onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring wine to a boil; cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 2 minutes). Add potatoes, chicken, broth, pepperoncini, and olives; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 teaspoons garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, tomato, basil, and artichokes; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with cheese. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Is It Meatloaf or Chili?

That is the question of the day. The recipe is called Individual Chili Meatloaf, but the actual mixture could be a meatloaf, or it could be a chili. At any rate, this was dinner. It was good. Of course, almost all the recipes from Weight Watchers are good. I haven't found too many that aren't tasty. This had meat, but it also had all the elements for chili. The best of both worlds I suppose!

First off, I would like to say that this recipe lies a little. It says it serves 12. Well, I suppose that would be true if you baked the mixture in mini-loaf pans like it says, but who really has that many mini loaf pans lying around? I most certainly don't. But, the recipe did also say you could use muffin cups. Right on! I have plenty of those. Well, even after the mixture went into the pan, I had way more than 12 servings. I had almost 18. Oh well. Jason likes meat, so he will get the leftovers for a while. Also, the recipe doesn't tell you what to do with the veggies or beans. So, I assume you dice them and drain and rinse them. I added those instructions below.

Do yourself a favor. Don't be an idiot like me. I had never handled Poblano peppers before. I am wiser now, but I wasn't three hours ago. Don't cut a Poblano pepper and than not wash your hands afterwards. Better yet, use gloves! I still have the burn under my fingernails. It's not pleasant. Even after washing my hands, it still hurts.

Here is what the mixture looks like before adding the ground beef. See what I mean about chili vs. meatloaf?

Add some mashed potatoes, a vegetable and a salad, and your meal is complete. I prepared our's ahead of time since I had late errands to run tonight. So, I called Jason a few minutes before I was going to get home to preheat the oven. That way, I could stick them in when I got home.

They were tasty! Pretty spicy, so if you don't like a lot of heat, cut the peppers out completely, or maybe only use one.

Individual Chili Meatloaf
from: Weight Watchers

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves
2 cups onion, diced
2 large poblano peppers, small diced
29 oz. canned diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
15 oz. canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cups cilantro, chopped
2 pounds uncooked lean ground beef
sour cream and scallions, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 12 mini loaf pans (or large muffin tins) with cooking spray.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds (do not allow garlic to burn). Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes more. Stir in tomatoes, lime juice, chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, both beans and cilantro; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring mixture to incorporate flavors from bottom and sides of pan, about 10 minutes. Allow mixture to cool.

3. Place beef in large bowl and add chili mixture; mix thoroughly to combine. Place about 1 cup of the meatloaf in each prepared pan (or muffin tin). Bake until the juices run clear, about 35 to 45 minutes; let stand 10 minutes before turning out of pans. Top each meatloaf with 2 teaspoons each of sour cream and scallions.

These fell apart when I tried to take them out of the pan. Follow the directions and let them sit for 10 minutes before removing them. Of course, I am never one to follow directions.

Lighter Muffins

I had some overripe bananas on hand, and knowing that I hate to throw food away, I wanted to use them. So, I debated: Banana bread or banana muffins? In the end, the muffins won. I found a recipe on that I could use, but I made some modifications to it. Why? Because I wanted a muffin with less Points than the recipe called for. Plus, if you scrimp on Points, you can add tasty extras like oh, mini chocolate chips. Tee hee.

As I looked over the recipe, I thought "Hmmm, what could go in this to help cut down some of the calories?". I remembered that I had some wheat germ on hand, which could substitute some of the flour. To cut calories even further, in place of the sugar, I used Splenda. Of course, these substitutions are completely not necessary, but again, chocolate chips anyone?

This recipe is light because it doesn't use oil or butter. The bananas act like the moisture in that respect. When you stir the ingredients together, the batter is very thick, but that's okay. They will turn out like muffins in the end.

My substitutions did me well. These are tasty muffins. If you heat them up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, they are even better. You can't really tell they are healthy. Even the hubs liked them. Of course, he isn't getting his hands on anymore of them since he has Gingerbread Loaf from Starbucks to consume. Muffins=Mine!

Lighter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
from: Pachey

2 eggs, beaten
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1.5 cups flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Splenda
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or line 12 muffin cups.

2. In a medium bowl, combine eggs and bananas. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, wheat germ, salt, Splenda, and baking soda. Stir in banana mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared tins.

3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Make Ahead Meal

I didn't pick this recipe because it's a make ahead meal, but instead, it just looked tasty. Every month, I pick up a copy of Cooking Light. I love looking through the magazine and picking out the recipes I want to save. This one happens to be from the November edition. It came from an article about a church group that pre-makes and freezes meals to take to parishioners who have lost a relative or had a new baby. The picture of this recipe looked very tasty, which was what made me dog-ear the page.

Of course, my version of it didn't turn out nearly so pretty. Maybe it was because I didn't have an 8x8 pan to bake it in. Maybe because the editors at Cooking Light have a job to make the food look pretty. Whatever the reason, at least it tasted good.

It felt strange to me not to pre-cook the pasta noodles. But, while the casserole is baking, it will cook the pasta in the soup and broth mixture. Don't worry, it will turn out okay. I followed the recipe exactly how it is written. I even have an extra pan of this stuff in the fridge for later in the week when I need a hot dinner. I suppose you could just bake the whole thing in a huge casserole dish, but that's entirely up to you.

I can't recall ever making a casserole that has diced celery in it, but surprisingly, it adds a really nice crunch and texture to the dish. This has a lot of veggies in it, so you don't have to guilty for eating it. After all, it is from Cooking Light. It's LIGHT.

Again, the picture didn't turn out very good, but then mine never do. Trust me, it tasted good. Paula Deen has a term for when food tastes really good but doesn't look so pretty: Grub. So, enjoy my grub, er, Cooking Light's grub.

Aunt Liz's Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
from: Cooking Light

2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
2 cups uncooked spaghetti noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces (about 7 ounces)
1 cup (1/4-inch thick) slices celery
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cans (10.75 oz) condensed 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine broth, salt, pepper, and soup in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add soup mixture to chicken mixture; toss. Divide mixture evenly between 2 (8-inch) square or (2-quart) baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over each casserole. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.

To bake a frozen casserole, covered, for 55 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

I would just like to say that yes, I have lost weight by eating this way. Even though the food doesn't photograph pretty, it tastes good. So, neener neener neener. I am down 11.5 pounds so far.