Posted in Appetizers

Dips for friends

I don’t have any dinner recipes from the weekend since we were invited our friend’s houses both Saturday & Sunday. However, I did make some dips for the occasions and am sharing the two “winners” below. You could serve either of these dips with crackers or vegetables, they both work well. I love bringing or serving dips at parties because they can be made a day in advance and just sit in the refrigerator which makes hosting or going to a party so much easier. Our friends didn’t believe they were lower in fat than what a regular dip would be.
Happy Cooking…

Roasted Garlic Dip with Bacon

Preheat oven 425o
Cooked 2/21/10
1 head of garlic
½ of a 3 ounce jar of reduced fat bacon bits
1 ½ reduced fat free sour cream
¾ cup reduced light mayonnaise
2 chopped scallions – green parts only
1. Spray a piece of aluminum foil (large enough to cover garlic head) and wrap garlic head inside. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
2. In a bowl, combine bacon bits, sour cream, mayonnaise and scallions. Squeeze roasted garlic from the outside of the garlic head (the inside should be soft and spreadable) into bowl and stir until combined.
3. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Caramelized onion and Goat Cheese Dip
Cooked 2/20/10
Serves 8 – 10
1 large sweet onion – chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
4 ounces fat free cream cheese
4 ounces light cream cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¾ cup goat cheese

1. Spray sauté pan with cooking spray and heat on medium low. Add onion, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add sugar, uncover pan and sauté for another 20 – 25 minutes until onions are soft and browned. If onions are sticking to the sauté pan, add a little water and stir to separate them.
3. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Place onions in food processor and pulse a few times until smooth.
4. Combine onions, cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce and goat cheese and mix.
5. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Posted in Fish, Main Courses, Poultry, Sauces, Saute`, Vegetables

Experimenting with Spices

Spices are a great way to add a lot of flavor without adding any calories or fat to your dishes.
Tonight we had a chicken and shrimp dish in a white wine sauce with “Herbes De Provence” to season it. This spice can be found in most grocery stores under the “McCormick” brand of spices. Some people like this spice and some don’t because it has rosemary in it. If you are not a fan of rosemary, you can make your own by combining marjoram, thyme and savory and leaving out the rosemary. But the sauce was a success for the whole family and I encourage you to try this recipe.  I served this dish with cooked pasta which worked out pretty well but you can also serve it with rice.
Happy Cooking!!

Chicken and Shrimp Sauté in Wine Sauce

1 onion – coarsely chopped
2 medium zucchini (green squash) – coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic – minced
1 pound boneless/skinless chicken breast – cut into bite size pieces
½ pound shrimp – deveined and peeled with tails off
1 cup white wine
1 cup fat free chicken broth
1 teaspoon Herbes De Provence
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon ground mustard
2 tablespoons flour
1. Heat sauté pan on medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Add onions and cook, covered, for about 3 minutes until browned, stirring frequently.
2. Add zucchini and sauté for another 5 minutes or until the onion and zucchini are softened. Add garlic, cook 1 minute uncovered. Remove vegetables from pan and place in a bowl, cover, and set aside.
3. Spray sauté pan again and add chicken. Sauté for about 5 to 7 minutes (depending on how large your pieces are) until almost cooked through. Add shrimp and sauté for another 3 – 5 minutes or until the chicken and shrimp are cooked. Remove from pan into the same bowl as the vegetables and cover to keep warm.
4. Add wine to the sauté pan, bring up to a boil and simmer until it is reduced to about half (this takes about 7 – 10 minutes).
5. In a small bowl, combine chicken broth, Herbes De Provence, salt, pepper, mustard and flour and whisk until combined. Add to the sauté pan with the wine and whisk while cooking until mixture become bubbly and thick.
6. Reduce heat and allow sauce to simmer for about 5 minutes.
7. Add chicken, shrimp and vegetables to sauté pan and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes.
8. Serve with rice or pasta.

Posted in Breakfast, Tips/Hints

A little under the weather

My husband was out of town tonight on business and my son said that he wasn’t feeling great so we decided to make cream of wheat for dinner. Not much of a recipe to report on but I did use a ½ teaspoon of vanilla and about 2 tablespoons of maple syrup after cooking it to make it taste great. It was like eating dessert for dinner. Also, I used half skim milk and half water to cook with so that you get the creamy taste without as many calories and no fat added.
Hopefully, if everyone is felling well, tomorrow night’s dinner will be a little more exciting.
Until tomorrow – Happy cooking!

Posted in Beef, Grilling, Main Courses, Sauces

A note on meat…

Tonight we had grilled pork loin with a pickled wine sauce. I never made a sauce like this before and was curious to try something different(by the way, it took 3 tries before I got a sauce that I really liked). After eating this dish, I have decided that it would go really well with grilled steak as well so the recipe below includes beef. You can try it either way. If you do grill the beef, please let me know what you thought.

I try not to cook with beef often because it can have a higher fat content than other types of meat (i.e. pork loin or chicken) but if I do use it, I will use sirloin or London broil. Both of these red meats have less fat in them than other cuts of beef.
Try it out & happy cooking!!

Grilled Sirloin with Pickled Wine Sauce

Serves 4
2 onions – chopped
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup white wine
1 ½ cups beef broth
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ cup bread and butter pickles – chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 – 6 ounce sirloin steaks (or a 1 ½ – 2 pound pork loin)
Salt and pepper to season steaks
1. Heat a saucepot on medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Add chopped onion and sauté until softened and browned. Remove onions from saucepot and set aside.
2. In a bowl, mix together wine, beef broth and thyme. Add wine mixture to saucepot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, add back onions and allow sauce to simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
3. Add pickles and Dijon mustard and remove saucepot from heat to cool slightly. Pour sauce into a food processor and puree. Return sauce to the saucepot and heat on low until ready to use.
4. Heat an indoor grill pan on medium high. Season steaks with salt and pepper and grill for about 5 minutes on each side or until cooked to medium rare.
5. Pour a little of the heated sauce on the bottom of a serving platter, place steaks on top then pour the remaining sauce on top.
NOTE: If cooking pork loin, grill for about 15 minutes on each side and cook to medium.

Posted in Appetizers, Main Courses, Soup, Vegetables

Another soup night…

We visited my father-in-law today and promised to bring an onion soup since it’s one of our favorites. This soup is always a big hit with friends and family, is so easy to prepare and didn’t disappoint tonight.

Happy Cooking!!

French Onion Soup
Serves 6

5 large sweet white onions – thinly sliced
Cooking spray
¼ cup sherry
1 tablespoon brown sugar
6 cups reduced fat beef broth
1 tablespoon fresh thyme – minced (or 1 teaspoon dried)
6 slices French bread – toasted
6 slices reduced fat Swiss cheese (or provolone)

1. Heat large saucepot on medium low heat and spray with cooking spray. Add onions, cover, and cook for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Increase heat to medium and cook another 15 minutes until onions are browned, stirring frequently.
3. Add sherry and sugar and cook until liquid is absorbed.
4. Add beef broth and thyme. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes.
5. To serve – scoop a serving of soup in a bowl. Place a slice of bread then a slice of cheese on top so that it rests on the bread. Broil in the oven for about 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned.

Posted in Soup, Vegetables

Easy, Delicious & Light…

Today we returned from a great vacation. Of course, there was almost no food in the house and I had to find something to make for dinner. One of the staples I always keep around are bags of dried beans so I made Country Style Split Pea Soup. This is a hearty soup with a lot of flavor and only a little bit of fat coming only from the turkey bacon. It works great on a cold winter day and is really easy to prepare. You don’t even have to soak split peas before cooking with them which also makes it a little quicker to prepare than a traditional bean soup.

Here is the recipe…Enjoy!!

Country Style Split Pea Soup

Serves 6

1 pound (1-16 ounce bag) split peas
4 slices turkey bacon – chopped
1 onion – chopped
2 cloves garlic – minced
¾ cup white wine
¼ cup whiskey
6 cups fat free chicken broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1. Heat large sauce pot on medium low heat and spray with cooking spray. Add turkey bacon and cook for 5 minutes or until browned.
2. Add onions and cook, covered, for 5 minutes or until soft.
3. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
4. Add wine and Jack Daniels and cook on medium heat until reduced by ½.
5. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil on high heat.
6. Add split peas, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, bay leaf and paprika, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
7. Add oregano and liquid smoke and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool soup to room temperature.

Posted in Appetizers, Side Dishes, Tips/Hints, Vegetables

One more note…

I will be on vacation starting tomorrow so I am not sure how much I will be able to blog but I’d like to leave you with a timely recipe. If you are going to or hosting a Super Bowl party this weekend and want to bring or serve guacamole dip, this is a fabulous recipe that I used during the summer at our BBQs. My friends didn’t even know I substituted ingredients:

Guacamole Dip
Serves 6 -8

1 cup peas
½ cup chicken broth
1 Avocado – pit removed and skin peeled and cut into chunks
¼ cup fat free Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic – minced
Juice of 1 lime
1 pkg. Sugar substitute
Sat & pepper to taste
1 jalapeno – minced (can substitute 1 teaspoon of hot sauce)
¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped fine

1. Cook peas with chicken broth in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook for about 1 minute and strain and rinse peas in water.
2. Add peas to food processor and puree for about 30 seconds, until smooth.
3. Add avocado, yogurt, garlic, lime juice, Sugar substitute jalapeno (or hot sauce) and cilantro and puree until smooth.
4. Empty into a bowl & serve with baked tortilla chips.
NOTE: It may be necessary to stop in between to scrape down the sides to ensure the guacamole is consistently smooth.
Happy Cooking and enjoy the game!!

Posted in Fish, Main Courses, Pasta dish, Sauces, Saute`

Taking advantage of the sales

Well I don’t usually buy something as expensive as snow crab legs for dinner but our local grocery store had an amazing sale on snow crab legs, I just couldn’t resist. If you don’t have a great sale going on and want to try this recipe, you can substitute canned or fresh lump crab meat or a poached fish instead.
If you are substituting with a fillet of fish, just pour a little sauce on top at the end and serve it with potatoes or another side dish instead of setting it on top of pasta. Also, it is best to cook the sauce at the last minute. I was experimenting with the sauce this afternoon and set it into the refrigerator. When I went to reheat it, it was too thick and I had a little bit of a hard time getting it back to it’s original form. Since the sauce takes less than 10 minutes to cook, it’s worth not cooking in advance.

Here is the recipe for Snow Crab with Penne.

Snow Crab with Penne
Serves 6

2 pounds frozen snow crab claws
1 tablespoon capers – minced
1 teaspoon prepared mustard powder
2 tablespoon white wine
½ cup fat free half and half
1 ½ cups skim milk
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon tarragon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 pound penne pasta

1. Heat water on high heat in a large pot until boiling and add snow crab legs. Cook until water comes to a boil again. Remove crab legs and from shells and break up meat into small pieces. Set crab meat in a large mixing bowl, cover and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine minced capers, mustard and wine. Set aside.
3. In a saucepan, mix together half and half, flour, tarragon, salt and pepper. Add wine/caper mixture and turn heat on low.
4. Heat sauce mixture, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to steam. Increase heat to medium low, continue whisking, until mixture is bubbly and thickened (about 5 minutes).
5. Remove sauce from heat and pour on top of crab. Gently fold sauce into crab meat, being careful not to break up the crab meat too much.
6. Boil a pot of water and cook penne according to directions on box. Drain, rinse and set into a serving platter.
7. Spoon crab sauce on top of pasta and serve.

Posted in Roasted, Side Dishes, Tips/Hints, Vegetables

Side dishes count too…

Thank you for your great feedback today. It was mentioned that these recipes are not just for families with children. That is so true. Since Nick was 2 1/2, I stopped making the extra “kid” meals because it was a lot more work and my son was showing very little interest in trying new things. So my philosophy is to cook healthy regardless of whether you are cooking for your family, friends or yourself.

Tonight I just grilled sirloin steak so there isn’t much of a recipe to speak of except to note that I sprayed the indoor grill pan with cooking spray instead of adding oil. It is worth mentioning that I roasted Brussels sprouts and welcome you to try this recipe. I have had a few people mention that they don’t usually like Brussels sprouts but when they tried them roasted, they changed their opinion because roasting adds a whole new flavor worth trying. The recipe is listed below.

If however, you know you won’t like these, then I invite you to try the same recipe but substitute the brussel sprouts with cut up zucchini (except don’t blanch in boiling water first) and reduce roasting time to about 20 minutes. NOTE: you can even add slices of onion with the zucchini too (they turn really sweet).

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Preheat oven 425o


2 – 3 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 small or 2 large cloves garlic – minced

1 teaspoon onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat pot of water to boiling and add Brussels sprouts. Cook for about 3 minutes and drain.

2. Put Brussels sprouts into a large bowl and spray with cooking spray. Add garlic, onion powder and salt and pepper to taste and toss gently.

3. Place seasoned Brussels sprouts onto a roasting pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

4. Roast for 25 – 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow even cooking.

NOTE: Make sure your roasting pan is large enough so that the Brussels sprouts are spread on the bottom of the pan and do not overlap, this ensures even cooking and the right browning.

Posted in Kickin' Banana Rum Crepes

Not every meal is worth mentioning


I was fooling around with some Chinese flavors tonight and just didn’t get it right so I will not be posting a recipe for the chicken and vegetable saute I made. It wasn’t terrible but the spices were a little off. I will goof around a little more and let you know when I have it right.

However, I did make a kickin’ dessert and will post this recipe. I made banana rum crepes. The sauce was a little thick so I am adding a 1/4 cup water to the sauce to thin it out a little. This recipe tastes like bananas foster but with crepes and pastry creme instead of ice cream. Also, you can add a dollop of whipped cream without adding much to the calories or fat.

The only other note about the banana rum crepes is that it is a recipe for about 10 people so I have a lot extra.

Happy Cooking and enjoy!!!

Banana Rum Crepes
Cooked 2/2/10
Serves 10
Pastry Cream Ingredients:
¼ cup flour
¼ cup cornstarch
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
½ cup egg substitute
2 cups skim milk
1 cup fat free half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon rum extract
1 tablespoon reduced calorie butter spread
1. In a pot, whisk together flour, cornstarch and sugar until combined.
2. Add egg, egg substitute, milk and half and half and whisk.
3. Turn heat on low (if using an electric stovetop to about 200o). Stirring constantly, heat mixture until is begins to steam and become thicker.
4. Increase heat to medium low (about 225o) and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for another 5 minutes or until mixture becomes very thick and bubbly.
5. Remove pot from stove and stir in vanilla, rum extract and butter spread.
6. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until cold.
HINT: If the pastry cream came out a little clumpy, strain through a colander.

This can be made in advance and will sty in the refrigerator for several days.
Crepe Ingredients:
1 ½ cups skim milk
1 cup flour
½ cup egg substitute
2 tablespoons sugar
1. With electric mixer, beat all ingredients until combined.
2. Heat 6-inch skillet on medium high heat.
3. Remove skillet from stove, spray with cooking spray and pour about 3 tablespoons of batter into center of skillet. Tilt skillet until batter is spread evenly.
4. Return skillet to stove and cook on one side until browned. Turn out onto a paper towel.
5. Repeat process until all the batter is used. Yields about 16 – 18 crepes.
HINT: Crepes can be made several hours in advance and can be reheated at the last minute on a skillet or can be served at room temperature.
Banana Rum Sauce Ingredients:
2 bananas – mashed
1 tablespoon reduced calorie butter spread
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup rum
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1. Heat saucepan on medium high heat. Add butter spread and melt. Add mashed bananas, brown sugar, rum, water and cinnamon.
2. Cook until sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbly.
3. Allow to cool then transfer to a food processor. Puree until sauce is smooth.
4. Reheat sauce before serving.
Assembly Directions for crepes:
1. Spoon about ¼ pastry cream into the center of a crepe and spread to the ends. Roll one side of the crepe then turn over so that the seam is facing down and place on a serving platter.
2. Continue with each crepe until the crepes and/or pastry cream has all been used.
3. Reheat sauce on stovetop for a few minutes and pour on top of the crepes and serve.