Posted in Bake, Casserole, Main Courses, Sauces, Tips/Hints, Vegetables

Make Ahead Meals – Day 1

 Make ahead meals will be the focus for the next couple of weeks.  With our crazy schedule of camp and football practice, there is just no time to make dinner right before it’s time to eat.  Most of you probably have the same situation, with work and activities, making a meal right before dinner time just isn’t possible.  So the next few weeks are recipes that work really well for reheating or cooking those last few minutes in the oven for the least amount of time and stress. 

 You can still make delicious and light home cooked dinners even with a busy schedule.  Don’t give in to the take out!  Enjoy home cooked delicious and light meals instead.


Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

Tips for Cooking in Advance:

  1. You can cook this for 45 minutes in the morning, keep it covered and leave it out on the counter.  For the last 15 minutes of cooking, re heat oven to 375o and bake for the last 15 minutes uncovered.  The dish will be warmed and the cheese should be browned and melted.
  2. You can cook the recipe for the first 45 minutes in the morning or the night before and refrigerate it.  Take it out an hour before, have it come to room temperature then reheat in the oven at 375o and cook for about 30 minutes (15 minutes covered and 15 uncovered).
  3. You can cook the entire recipe in the morning or the night before and refrigerate it, cut into individual sized pieces and microwave it for 2 – 4 minutes.

Serves 12

Preheat oven 375o

Estimated Values per Serving:

Calories: 200                        Fat: 4 grams                          Points: 4

Eggplant Ingredients:

3 small or 2 large eggplants – skinned and sliced ¼” thin


Olive oil cooking spray

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 to 2 ½ cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs

2 cups egg substitute


  1. Place sliced eggplant in layers between paper towels adding salt between each layer.  Cover with paper towels and allow eggplant to sit on counter and “sweat” for about 15 minutes.
  2. Remove eggplant from paper towels and rinse thoroughly.  Throw away paper towels.
  3. In one bowl, combine bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and in a separate bowl, pour in egg substitute.
  4. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat and spray with olive oil cooking spray.
  5. Working in batches, dip each eggplant slice in the egg then press into the bread crumbs on both sides.  Add eggplant to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes on each side until the bread crumbs have browned.
  6. Remove cooked eggplant slices (try not to eat and cook or you will run out of eggplant) and set onto a large plate until ready to assemble.
  7. Continue to work in batches until all of the eggplant is cooked.

Tomato Sauce Ingredients:

Olive oil cooking spray

1 onion – chopped

2 cloves garlic – minced

½ cup red wine

2 cans crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried oregano


  1. Heat a large sauce pan on medium heat and spray generously with cooking spray.  Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. 
  2. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Increase the heat to medium high and add wine.  Let wine cook for about 3 minutes, scraping any pieces off the bottom of the pan. 
  3. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, basil and oregano and simmer for about 15 minutes. 

Filling Ingredients:

1 container (15 ounces) fat free ricotta cheese

¼ cup egg substitute

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 ¼ cup low fat grated mozzarella cheese


  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese, egg substitute, onion powder, pepper, garlic powder and parmesan cheese.
  2. To Assemble: Spray a 10’X13”X 2 ½” deep baking pan with cooking spray and add a little tomato sauce on the bottom.  Place a layer of eggplant on top and spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture on top of the eggplant.  Sprinkle 1/5 of the mozzarella cheese on top of that layer. 
  3. Continue to layer with sauce, eggplant, ricotta and mozzarella, ending with mozzarella cheese on top.
  4. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
  5. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes until cheese is melted and browned.
Posted in Pasta dish

Pasta with Basil and Capers

Passa with Basil and Capers

Serves 4

Prep Time:

Cook Time:

Estimated Values per Serving:

Calories: 110                        Fat: 6 grams                          Points: 2


½ box (8 ounces) penne pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

*¼ cup vinegar from olive jar

1 clove garlic – minced

1 tablespoon capers – minced

1 tablespoon fresh basil – minced

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese


  1. Boil pasta according to package directions and drain when cooked.  Add pasta to a large serving bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic and capers.  Pour dressing on top of pasta and stir.  Add basil and parmesan cheese and toss lightly.
  3. Serve immediately.

*Look for olives that are pickled in vinegar.  If you do not have a jar of pickled olives, you can substitute your favorite flavored vinegar instead.

Posted in Casserole, Side Dishes, Vegetables

Getting Back…

It’s been a while but we are finally home from traveling and have completed our holiday entertaining.  When we returned home from our travels, we saw that the green beans in our garden had overgrown.  To make them tender, I stewed the green beans in tomatoes.  Otherwise, they are too chewy.  Here is the recipe:

Italian Style Green Beans

Serves 6

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes

Preheat oven 325o

Estimated Values per serving:

Calories: 70                           Fat: trace                                Points: 1


2 pounds green beans – ends removed

2 cloves garlic – minced

1 onion – chopped

¼ cup white wine

1 can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil


  1. Cut green beans into 1-inch pieces and set aside in a bowl.
  2. Heat a skillet on medium heat and spray with cooking spray.  Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes until slightly browned and softened.  Add garlic and sauté an additional minute.  Transfer onions and garlic into a Dutch oven.  Stir in white wine, tomatoes, green beans, oregano and basil.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes until green beans are tender.
  4. Serve hot.
Posted in Pasta dish, Vegetables

Company for the week…

Italian Pasta and Bean Salad

Our friends from Texas are visiting us for the week and should be arriving soon.  I planned a simple dinner for them since I know they will probably be tired from traveling all day.  So tonight, I am making pork loin cooked on the BBQ, Caesar’s salad and Italian pasta salad. 

Enjoy summer with friends.

Italian Pasta and Bean Salad

Serves 12

Pre p Time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 8 minutes

Estimates Values per serving:

Calories = 220                                              Fat = 3 grams


1 (12-ounce) box of pasta

½ cup low fat mayonnaise

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon anchovy paste

2 cloves garlic – minced

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 (14-ounce) can of artichoke hearts – rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped

1 (15.5-ounce) can of chick peas – rinsed and drained

1 (15.5-ounce) can of red kidney beans– rinsed and drained

½ cup low fat shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

8 ounces cherry tomatoes – cut in half

Pepper to season


  1. Boil a large pot of water and add macaroni.  Cook about 8 minutes until done and drain water.
  2. While pasta is cooking, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, sugar, anchovy paste, garlic, paprika and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. 
  3. Add pasta, artichoke hearts, chick peas, kidney beans, cheeses and tomatoes and gently toss together.  Add pepper to season.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and serve cold.
Posted in Poultry

A twist on “Sausage and Peppers”

My husband loves sautéed sausage and peppers served with Italian bread.  The problem is sausage is high in fat.  So I thought would be fun tonight to serve something that is very low fat but offers the same flavor.  I came up with sautéed chicken tenders, peppers and onions with the flavorings of Italian sausage.  It was a big hit; the official comment was “you nailed it”.  So, if you are looking for a low fat alternative to the sausage & pepper dish, try this out.

Happy Sautéing!!

Chicken “Sausage” and Peppers

Serves 4

Prep & cooking time: 30 minutes


1 – 1 ½ pounds chicken tenders

2 – 3 tablespoons + ¼ cup fat free chicken broth separated

½ teaspoon fennel seed

½ teaspoon coriander seed

½ teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1 red bell pepper – cut into ½ by 2 – inch slices

1 green bell pepper– cut into ½ by 2 – inch slices

1 large sweet white onion– cut into ½ by 2 – inch slices

Italian bread for serving


  1. Grind together fennel seed, coriander seed and parsley in a mortar and pestle.  Add onion powder to the mixture then season chicken tenders with the spices.
  2. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat and spray with cooking spray.  Add chicken tenders and sauté for 5 – 7 minutes or until browned and cooked through.
  3. Remove chicken tenders from skillet and add about 2 tablespoons of the chicken broth, scraping any pieces off of the bottom of the pan.  Add onions, reduce heat to medium low, cover, then cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add green and red peppers to skillet with the onions and sauté another 5 minutes until softened and browned.
  5. Add chicken tenders and chicken broth if the vegetables are sticking to the pan, season with salt and pepper , and simmer on low heat,  for about another 2 minutes until chicken is heated.

Serve with Italian Bread on the side.