Italian Chicken Stir-Fry

No need to order take-out tonight. If you think you don’t have time to make a home cooked meal, you are wrong. This meal comes together in less than 30 minutes, with only a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand. Plus you control what you put into this meal, thus controlling the fat and calories. Serve it with a salad and breadsticks and you have a big dinner.

The original recipe came from my mom. This is something she would make when my dad was gone fishing (he really doesn’t care for it). This isn’t a traditional stir-fry; I thinly sliced the chicken and stir-fried it in order to speed up the cooking time. I have also used rotisserie chicken, which you can pick up in the hot case at your local grocery store. We were out of pasta, so being “oh so resourceful” I used the pasta from a box of Velveeta Shells & Cheese and now the mystery cheese sauce packet is laying in my cupboard (what am I going to do with that?).

This recipe is easy to personalize. Use whatever pasta shape you have on hand. Don’t like chicken? Try turkey or tuna. Use fire-roasted tomatoes; my mom prefers Rotel over regular diced tomatoes. Food is meant to be enjoyed!

ITALIAN CHICKEN STIR-FRY
1-1 1/2 lb chicken breast (I used boneless, skinless)
1 T Vegetable oil
2 c pasta
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, juice drained
4 T Lite Italian salad dressing

Cook your pasta til al dente. Thinly slice chicken breast. Heat oil in wok over high heat. Quickly sti-fry chicken until no longer pink. Once chicken is cooked thoroughly, add tomatoes, pasta and salad dressing. Cook for 3-5 minutes so flavors combine.

Plate your pasta, and top with shredded Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Biggest Loser Blueberry Pancakes

How many times have you heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? I’ve heard this statement countless times, and I know it to be true; but I still found myself skipping breakfast. Not any more. I make sure to eat a healthy breakfast every morning. Starting the day with a healthy meal helps curb my cravings for non nutritious food throughout the day.

My sister is a super fan of NBC’s The Biggest Loser. She recently purchased The Biggest Loser Cookbook. Check out Amazon, they have tons of Biggest Loser goods. My sister sent me a recipe for better for you blueberry cakes. I omitted the blueberries because I did not have any on hand, the pancakes were still delicious and very filling. I made my pancakes into two 1/4 c cakes instead of four 1/8 c cakes. Two scrambled eggs, half an orange and a glass of V8 juice made a delicious breakfast with less than 350 calories.

BIGGEST LOSER BLUEBERRY PANCAKES

1/2 c reduced fat buttermilk
1/2 c whole grain oat flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! 0 calorie spray
1/2 c fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries

Makes 2 (4 pancake) servings

In a small bowl combine the buttermilk, flour, egg white, baking soda, vanilla and salt. Whisk just until blended. Stir in the blueberries. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until it is hot enough for a spritz of water to sizzle on it. Briefly remove the pan from the heat to mist lightly with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! spray. Return the pan to the heat. Pour the batter in 1/8 cup dollops onto the skillet to form 4 pancakes. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the tops and the bottoms are golden brown. Flip. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until browned on the bottom. Repeat with the remaining batter to make 8 pancakes total.

Serve immediately with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray and syrup if desired (syrup is additional calories.. I used sugar free low calorie syrup.. just 35 calories per 1/4 cup which is plenty!)

If you only want to make 1 serving at the time, the batter will keep in your refrigerator for up to 3 days

Per serving: 140 calories, 8 g protein, 20g carbohydrates, 3 g fat (less than 1 g saturated fat), 5mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 687 mg sodium

Better For You Food

Lately my lovely husband and I have been trying to eat much healthier. Which, unfortunately, has killed my desire to cook; thus explaining my lack of posts. I love to cook, I love to read about cooking, I love to read cookbooks, and watch TV about cooking. Cooking and eating make me happy, because I get to do it for and with the people I love. I am trying to find happiness in cooking healthier, but like the saying goes, “it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks.” Now I am not an old dog, its just that I’ve been cooking for a good ten years or so not giving a single thought to the caloric content of my food. All that was important to me was if the food tasted good and if the people I was serving enjoyed it.

I have found a calorie counter, which allows you to analyze the nutritional value of your recipe. I use this tool as a guideline, it is not completely accurate, but it was the best I could find. Let me know if there is a more accurate tool out there! Hopefully I will be posting several recipes that will be better for you. The nutritional data will not be available with all the recipes, but I will tell you if I think the recipe is better for you.

If you need a midmorning or mid afternoon pick me up, a great snack is a Fiber One bar. With 140-150 calories and 35% of your daily fiber requirement it is a great snack. Oats & Caramel is my favorite flavor, the great caramel flavor tastes like you are cheating. CQ Products has a 100 calorie snack cookbook for a very reasonable price. Make your own snacks for far cheaper than you could buy those snack packs you see at your local market.

*Disclaimer* I am NOT a registered dietitian or nutritionist. I am a regular person who is trying to eat a little healthier. ALWAYS consult your doctor before starting any diet.

I made this turkey burger recipe last night, but did not take any photos, I thought I already had photos saved on my computer. A quick search of my food folder this morning proved me wrong. Sorry there are no photos of this tasty burger. Trust me the appearance of the burger can not capture it’s tastiness. This burger is so moist and delicious, you won’t miss the higher calorie red meat cousin.

TURKEY BURGER

1 lb low fat ground turkey
2-4 celery ribs, chopped finely
1/2 medium sized onion, minced
1 tsp poultry seasoning (I used ground sage)
1 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Over medium heat, add olive oil, celery, and onion to pan. Sautee until vegetables are tender. Remove from pan and cool slightly. Once vegetables are cooled add to ground turkey. Mix well. Form into four patties. In a nonstick skillet, cook your burgers over medium-medium high heat 3-4 minutes on each side. The burgers are done once the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.

Serving suggestion: Place burger on a whole wheat bun smeared with lite mayo, top burger with a slice of Muenster cheese.

Rachael Rocks!

Yesterday I found out that my blog post about the Rachael Ray recipe redo I did was posted on the Rachael Ray Blog. How cool is that? I was so excited when I saw it, my brother said I was giddy when I told him the news.

Now I am sure Rachael did not look at my website herself. One of her staffers found my website, but it is still cool someone in the Rachael Ray family read my recipe. I actually thought about sending my recipe to Rachael, letting her know of my tasty redo.

I love Rachael, and have been a fan of hers since I first saw a 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray episode years ago. I know where I live I get to see three 30 Minute Meal episodes a day, unless The Simpsons have a good episode on, then I settle for one 30 Minute Meal. There is still more Rachael to watch, I tune in almost daily to Every Day with Rachael Ray TV show. With all the TV shows Rachael Ray has on the Food Network, I could probably watch her six or seven times a day.

Hey Rachael, if you ever need another person do go on a Tasty Travel with you, or spend $40 a Day, I am your gal.


Recipe Redo

I subscribe to the magazine Every Day with Rachael Ray. I love her quick and easy recipes. In the April 2008 issue, Rachael has redone some of our favorite comfort food recipes, making them more figure friendly. One recipe Rachael redid was Shepherd’s Pie that had 311 calories per serving, compared to the 622 it had before. I redid Rachael’s redo with my own even lower calorie and just as tasty Turkey Shepherd’s Pie. I will include Rachael’s recipe and my own. Enjoy!

SHEPHERD’S PIE
(from Every Day with Rachael Ray April 08)
311 Calories/ serving
Serves 8

2 lb yellow-fleshed potatoes
2 T extra virgin olive oil
10 oz cremini mushroom slices
2 carrots, cut into 1 in pieces
2 parsnips, cut into 1 in pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 lb 93 % lean ground beef
1/4 c flour
1 1/2 c beef broth
1/2 c canned crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper
3/4 c 2 % milk
1 1/2 lb baby spinach

In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes with enough salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to the pot, cover.

In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/2 T olive oil over high heat, add the mushrooms and cook stirring until browned, about 5 minutes. Arrange in a greased 9×13 baking dish in an even layer.

In same skillet, heat 1 T olive oil over medium high heat. Add the carrots, parsnips, and onions. Cook until crisp-tender, 6-7 minutes. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the beef broth and tomatoes, and simmer, stirring until thickened, about 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Ladle the meat mixture over the mushrooms.

position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400. Add the milk to the potatoes and mash. Season with salt and pepper.

In the reserved skillet, bring 1 c water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook, turning until wilted, about 2 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a colander, press to extract any liquid.

Arrange the spinach over the meat mixture, then spoon the potatoes over top. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 T olive oil. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes.

MY TURKEY SHEPHERD’S PIE
242 Calories/ Serving
Serves 8

2 lb yellow-fleshed potatoes
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 c carrots, cut into 1 in pieces
1 c celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 lb 93 % lean ground turkey
1/4 c flour
1 1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 c canned crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper
3/4 c skim milk
1 1/2 lb baby spinach

In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes with enough salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to the pot, cover.

In same skillet, heat 1 T olive oil over medium high heat. Add the carrots, celery, and onions. Cook until crisp-tender, 6-7 minutes. Add the turkey and cook, breaking it up, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the broth and tomatoes, and simmer, stirring until thickened, about 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Ladle the meat mixture into greased 9×13 pan.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400. Add the milk to the potatoes and mash. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the potatoes over top. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 T olive oil. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes.

Happy Birthday Sasha!

This past weekend was Sasha’s birthday, she turned two. We had a nice party with our family and friends. I served barbecue pork sandwiches and cheesy potatoes. Sasha has really been into Elmo lately, so I decided to make her an Elmo cake. She loved it. It was a successful party and a very lovely weekend.

BARBECUE PORK SANDWICHES
4 Hormel Always Tender Mesquite Barbecue Tenderloin
your favorite barbecue sauce

Grill tenderloins until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Take meat off grill and rest 10-15 minutes, so the juices can redistribute. Thinly slice meat. Place sliced meat in crock pot (slow cooker) on low; cover meat with your favorite sauce, add as much or as little as you like. Heat until warmed through.

I served my tenderloin on whole wheat kaiser rolls.

CHEESY POTATOES
30 oz package of shredded frozen hash browns
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1 can cream of chicken soup (any cream soup will work)
1 c sour cream
3 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 c corn flakes
salt, pepper, onion flake or powder to taste

Preheat oven t0 350 degrees F. Mix together hash browns, soup, sour cream, 2 c cheese, and seasonings. Put hash brown mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan. Top with remaining cheese, corn flakes and melted butter. Bake for 1 hour.

These are delicious!

*I used fat free sour cream and cheese and 98% fat free soup to cut calories, they still tasted great.

ELMO CAKE


1 box of funfetti cake mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix cake according to package instructions. Pour cake batter into a well greased and floured Elmo cake pan (can be purchased off Wilton’s website).

Bake for about 35 minutes. Or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow pan to cool 10 minutes on wire rack. Turn cake out onto another wire rack and cool completely.

I decorated my cake with dyed buttercream frosting. Instructions for dying your frosting come with the Elmo pan.

Sasha loved her cake, I hope your little one loves it too!

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

These are my favorite cookies. If I had a giant plate of various cookies in front of me, I would grab the white chocolate macadamia nut cookie first, no questions asked. I used to think of these cookies as a gourmet treat, and thought they would be difficult to prepare. How wrong I was! These cookies are simple to make, with a gourmet taste.

I remember the first time I tried a macadamia nut. I was a young girl, and family friends had returned from a vacation to Hawaii. With them they brought back Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts. Yum! I was hooked on the soft buttery flavor. When I found out people mixed the nuts with white chocolate in cookies I was in heaven.

WARNING! Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, so keep your dog away from these cookies.

I used white chocolate chips in this recipe. They worked well, and satisfied my craving, however, I would recommend using white chocolate chunks.

WHITE CHOCOLATE MACADAMIA NUT COOKIES

White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into
4 pieces (at room temperature)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup golden brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 1/2 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup macadamia nuts, halved

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.

Blend butter, sugars, egg and vanilla extract in process until creamed, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of work bowl as you mix. Add flour, baking soda and salt, and mix until just combined. Do not over-process. Stir in chocolate and nuts by hand.

Mound dough by 1/4 c onto prepared cookie sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. You should have 8-10 large cookies. Bake until light brown around edges, about 14-16 minutes.

Cool on cookie sheets 3 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely.

Store in airtight container. Store 3 to 4 days at room temperature or freeze up to 3 weeks.