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Thanksgiving is over, and the pots and pans have been washed (I hope). If you’re feeling a little oversaturated with turkey and desserts, fear not; this recipe is easy and quick while remaining light and sweet.

1 small package vanilla instant pudding mix
1 small package butterscotch instant pudding mix
2 cups milk
1 can pumpkin
8 ounces (one container) fat-free Cool Whip
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

Mix the pudding mix and milk throughly and allow to set for five minutes. Once firm, fold in pumpkin, Cool Whip and pumpkin pie spice.

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Thanksgiving is this week, and with it comes myriad rich foods and starchy sides. These honey roasted sweet potatoes, however, remain light and almost fluffy while tasting strongly of honey. Even better, it’s simple to throw together and doesn’t take much attention while baking, making an excellent side dish for Thanksgiving.

 

3 red-skinned sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch chunks and put in a 9×13 dish. In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, honey and lemon juice. Pour mixture over potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the salt, and bake, covered with tin foil, for about 1 hour, until potatoes are tender. Stir after half an hour. Yeilds six servings.

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If you’re looking for something light, fancy and easy, these fancy pizzas are perfect appetizers or even light meals.

 

1 red onion, sliced
3 cups arugula, coarsely chopped
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 whole-wheat tortillas OR naan bread OR pre-cooked pizza dough
4 ounces reduced-fat goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Saute the onions in a medium skillet over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and caramelized, about 15 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium and add the arugula. Cook until the arugula is wilted, about one minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the tortillas, naan or pizza bread on a baking sheet and top each with some of the arugula/onion mixture. Crumble some goat cheese on top of each, and bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes and cut each pizza into 4 triangles.

I made this recipe using tortillas and although the arugula, onion and goat cheese topping were excellent, the tortillas were tough and made eating the pizzas very difficult. Using a softer, thicker crust such as plain naan would provide a better foundation for the pizzas.

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French onion soup is the kind of hearty yet healthy meals that can put a soothing capstone on a hectic winter day. The only problem is this recipe, while simple, takes several hours to simmer and so might be best made beforehand — or on a snow day.

 

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced sweet onion
4 cups thinly sliced red onion
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white wine
8 cups fat-free beef broth
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
8 1-ounce slices French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 1-ounce slices reduced-fat Swiss cheese

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Stir in sugar, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Increase heat to medium-high, and sauté for five minutes or until onion is golden brown. Transfer the onion to a large pot, then stir in wine, and cook for one minute. Add broth and thyme; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for two hours.

Since I don’t have broiler-proof bowls, I improvised a way to top the soup with croutons and cheese. First, toast the bread cubes about two to three minutes until crispy; it’s best to do this already grouped for the number you’re serving. Then, top with a slice of cheese and broil for another few minutes until the cheese begins to brown. Then place each group of croutons and cheese onto each bowl you’re serving.

Yields eight servings.

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This dish is simple, tasty and, best of all, easy to make. If you’re looking to make it heartier for these colder temperatures, add another chicken breast.

2 chicken breasts, diced
1/3 pound whole wheat pasta
2 cups broccoli florets
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp black pepper

Dice chicken breasts and soak overnight in the olive oil and garlic, adding black pepper to taste, or use a garlic marinade. Sauté in a skillet on medium-high. Cook pasta according to instructions. Steam broccoli florets. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Serves four.

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Sunday Recipe: Mint Squash Chicken Orzo

This recipe sounds more complicated than it is, and looks almost as good as it tastes. This dish was intended to be served cold, and it tastes as fine that way (I know thanks to a little late-night snacking). Served hot, however, mint squash chicken orzo transforms into a filling main course instead of a late summer side salad. Depending on your preferences, you can modify the levels of mint and garlic; fortunately, those two flavors complement each other nicely in this dish.

1-1/2 cups orzo pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons garlic marinade (for extra flavor, toss in some crushed garlic as well)
3 medium yellow squash, diced
2 chicken breasts, diced
6 ounces crumbled feta (low-fat or fat-free feta is an easy way to cut the calories without sacrificing flavor in this dish)
3/4 cup fresh chopped mint leaves
Salt and pepper to flavor

Cook the orzo as the label directs. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and garlic marinade in a skillet medium-high. Fry the diced chicken until cooked thoroughly. Add in the diced squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook until limp.

In a large bowl, stir together the orzo and cooked chicken and squash. Add in the feta, mint and any additional salt and pepper you wish for taste. I stress large bowl; this recipe, which yields around eight servings, will be larger than you think. As pictured above, Brussels sprouts make an excellent vegetable side.

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This is a great, light summer salad recipe. It’s also simple and can be made earlier in the day, cutting down on dinner-time preparation.

Salad:
6 cups spinach
2 cups sliced strawberries
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Sliced almonds to decorate

Dressing:
1 cup strawberries
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper

Mix spinach, sliced strawberries, almonds and feta, leaving some almonds and feta to top later. For the dressing, blend the strawberries, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper in a blender. You can either dress the salad yourself or set is aside for individual use. It’s strongly flavored and slightly tangy, wonderfully complimenting the spinach and saltier feta.

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