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Robert and I are trying to eat healthier these days, so when I saw a delicious sounding recipe for a garlic cream sauce in mom’s recipe box, I decided to make a healthier version. We always have almond milk on hand as we like it in our morning coffee, so substituted the half and half in mom’s recipe with almond milk. The resulting sauce is delicious! I’ve tried it on both roasted chicken and also on a prosciutto and spinach pizza (new recipe to come shortly!) and we loved both dishes. If you don’t like almond milk, I think low fat milk would work equally well in this sauce. I decided to keep with the almond theme and sprinkle the chicken with some roasted slivered almonds just before serving. Easy, healthy, quick and delicious – my favorite kind of recipe. Enjoy!
Roasted Chicken Breasts with a Healthy Garlic “Cream” Sauce Recipe
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Heat the olive oil a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté just until the garlic begins to brown. Whisk in the flour, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Slowly whisk the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. It should look like this:
Spray a broiler pan with grapeseed oil. Arrange the chicken breasts in one layer and sprinkle with the paprika, onion salt and pepper:
Roast for around 7 to 8 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees. Place chicken breasts on a serving platter. Spoon garlic sauce over the top. Sprinkle with almonds and parsley and serve immediately.
Make ahead: Garlic cream sauce can be made up to 24 hours in advance, covered and refrigerated. Reheat over medium-low heat. You may need to add a bit more milk if it is too thick.
Pasta is such great comfort food. We eat it fairly often in our household, especially when I hit on a recipe that is full of flavor and also healthier. This pasta dish is vegetarian and uses very little butter (only 1 tablespoon!), fat free milk instead of cream and only 3 tablespoons of cheese per person – and most importantly, it is absolutely delicious!
Broccoli, Mushroom, Spinach and Cheese Penne Recipe
12 ounces whole wheat penne (or ziti) pasta
3/4 pound broccoli florets
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
8 ounces sliced mushrooms (button, cremini, shiitake or a mix)
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
3 cups fat free milk
1/4 cup flour
5 ounces baby spinach
1 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter a shallow 3-quart baking dish.
In a large stockpot, cook the pasta according to package directions until almost tender but still al dente. While the pasta is cooking, steam the broccoli until crisp-tender. Drain pasta, return to pot and add the broccoli.
In a large skillet or sauté pan, melt 2 teaspoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook until tender, around 5 minutes.
Place the milk in a medium mixing bowl. Sift the flour over the top of the milk, and then whisk together. Season with salt and pepper. Stir into mushroom mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until thickened – takes around 5 minutes. Stir in spinach. Remove from heat and stir in Fontina and 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Add sauce to pasta mixture and toss until mixed. Place in prepared baking dish. Melt remaining 1 teaspoon of butter and combine with breadcrumbs and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese; sprinkle over top of pasta mixture. Bake until bubbly and the top is beginning to brown, around 10 to 15 minutes.
Make ahead: Casserole can be prepared but not baked up to three days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Cover with foil to bake and increase cooking time to 30 minutes, then uncover dish and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until beginning to brown.
Note: Casserole can also bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes.
Sometimes the best recipes are created when fixing a mistake! The beginnings of this recipe came from my cousin Dave Berry, who is one of those natural cooks who creates delicious recipes from scratch. When I was making his Butternut Squash Soup recipe to serve as the first course for a recent dinner party, I accidentally put in way too much chicken stock, and the result was a watery soup lacking in flavor. So, I needed “amp it up” a bit, and decided to layer in more flavor and also thicken the soup by adding roasted squash seasoned with curry and onion powder. I then decided a bit of apple would add a nice bit of sweetness. Based on the positive response of our dinner guests to whom I served it, my “fixes” were a success!
Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
(Serves 10 to 12)
4 1/2 pounds butternut squash, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder, divided
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or more to taste
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup chopped roasted pecans
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Peel and seed the butternut squash; cut into 1-inch cubes. Put half of the squash in a large roasting pan and toss with the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder and the onion powder. Season with salt and pepper. Roast squash for around 25 to 35 minutes, or until very soft. Cool a bit then smash with a potato masher.
While the squash is roasting, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and rosemary and cook until the onion is soft. Add the remaining cubed (uncooked) squash, chicken stock, chopped apple and remaining 1 teaspoon curry powder. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for around 30 to 40 minutes, or until the squash is tender when poked with a fork. Stir in half and half; transfer to a blender and purée (or use an immersion blender). Stir in the smashed roasted squash. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm, garnished with around 1 teaspoon chopped pecans per serving.
Make ahead: Soup can be made up to 2 days in advance, covered and refrigerated. Reheat over medium heat until hot. (I actually think it tastes better if it sits for awhile.) Soup also freezes well.
I follow lots of wonderful food bloggers via Facebook, and a few weeks ago I decided to make the Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Pasta posted by Becky of the Two Bite Club. The recipe seemed like it would be right up my alley – quick, easy, ingredients on hand, and full of flavor. All I can say is that it didn’t disappoint – it was a snap to put together, and my husband Robert and I both loved it. He keeps asking me to make it again! Since Robert and I are on Weight Watchers (I am at goal, he has a few more pounds to go), I adapted the recipe a bit, mainly to switch out the heavy cream. In its place I used evaporated skim milk and a bit of Parmesan cheese and chopped green onions. I also used whole grain pasta. Check out the original recipe (and original photo, which is better than mine!) here on the Two Bite Club’s blog. Enjoy!
Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Pasta
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon butter
1 heaping teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried basil)
2 cups cooked whole grain pasta (like fusilli or penne)
Spray a large sauté pan or skillet with olive oil spray; add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sauté in the oil until cooked through and no longer pink. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Add the butter to the pan and turn heat down to medium. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the green onions and simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir in the milk and Parmesan cheese (and basil if using dried) and continue simmering until the sauce has thickened a bit, around 5 to 6 minutes. If using fresh basil, add it to the sauce now, along with the cooked chicken, and cook just until the chicken is heated through. Serve over the cooked pasta, passing additional Parmesan cheese on the side.
Mom’s favorite way to use up leftover country ham was in a spread with cream cheese – just two ingredients, that’s it! While her simple method is delicious, I decided to jazz it up a bit by adding a whopping two more ingredients – a bit of mayonnaise and some chopped fresh chives. Instead of chives, I have added chopped green onions before and that was also quite tasty. If you don’t have any leftover country ham, you can substitute cooked ham from the deli that has been ground up in a food processor. Enjoy!
Country Ham Cheese Spread
(Makes around 2 cups)
Using a fork, mix together all ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper (may not need any salt, depending on the saltiness of your ham). Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors blend. Serve with crackers.
Note: I throw the leftover pieces from the country ham in the food processor and chop it into fine bits. In addition to this dish, the ground ham is great in salads, omelets – any dish where you might add cooked bacon bits.
Make ahead: spread can be made up to 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated.
There are 4 exciting NFL playoff games coming up this weekend – go Denver Broncos! Looking for something to serve for game viewing that is both scrumptious and easy to prepare? Why not try our Taco Salad Dip. A variation of the well-known Seven Layer Dip, this dish has no refried beans and is a snap to put together. Enjoy!
Taco Salad Dip
(Serves 6 to 8)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 package taco seasoning mix
3/4 cup salsa (we like Pace brand)
6 chopped green onions
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or to taste)
1 can (2.25 ounce) sliced black olives, drained
1 ripe avocado, chopped
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped lettuce
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning. Spread evenly in the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch pie plate (or other shallow 4-cup dish). Spread salsa evenly over the top. Sprinkle remaining ingredients over the salsa in the order given. Serve with tortilla chips.
Note: this dip tastes best if you let the cream cheese mixture sit a bit before serving (around an hour or two) to allow the flavors to blend. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to do that – it also tastes great when served immediately!
As a Kentucky native, my mother Sally loved grits. What good Southerner doesn’t? My favorite grits dishes have always included some variety of cheese as a key ingredient. My cousin Beth Kidwell’s daughter Sarah – so what is she to me, a second cousin I guess? – is a fabulous cook and created this delicious Cheese Grits Soufflé recipe. Lighter than traditional cheese grits, it is still full of flavor – and pretty enough to serve at a dinner party. Enjoy!
Cheese Grits Soufflé
1 cup quick 5-minute grits
2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Dash Tabasco sauce
Dash Worcestershire sauce
2 to 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
4 egg yolks
6 egg whites
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a deep 2-quart baking our soufflé dish. Place a buttered foil collar around the top.
Prepare grits to package instructions using the grits, milk and water. When fully cooked, stir in the garlic, pepper, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and cheese. Let cool slightly. Beat egg yolks with a fork and stir them into the grits. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into the grits. Pour batter into the prepared dish and bake until lightly browned and well puffed, around 30 minutes, then turn oven down to 275 degrees and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes.
Note: Sarah says that if the soufflé comes out soupy, turn down the oven temperature (probably to around 300) and let it sit in the oven for a bit.
I first made these cheese truffles for a cocktail party my husband Robert and I hosted a few months ago to bless our airstream. It was really an excuse for a party – and also a way for our friends to see our fun trailer! Everyone at the party loved these little mini cheese balls – they quickly disappeared. They are also part of the menu for my appetizer cooking class that I taught last week, and will be teaching again on November 28th at the Seasoned Chef Cooking School. You can make this recipe as is, or play around with it and make it your own, substituting other cheeses for the Cheddar and Gouda, and other toppings for the pecans and chives. Enjoy!
Cheddar-Pecan and Gouda-Chive Cheese Truffles
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Gouda cheese
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 cup chopped fresh chives
Place the cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and process until well mixed. Take out half of the mixture and set aside. Add the Cheddar cheese to the mixture in the bowl; process until well mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Form into small balls (1-inch or less), place on a cookie sheet and chill until hard, around 4 hours.
Place the second half of the cream cheese mixture in the bowl of the food processor; add the Gouda cheese and process until well mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Form into 1-inch balls, place on a cookie sheet and chill until hard, around 1 to 2 hours. (You can speed up this process by putting them in the freezer for around 45 minutes.)
Roll the Cheddar truffles in the chopped pecans, and roll the Gouda truffles in the chopped chives. Place truffles in candy paper cups and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Make ahead: truffles can be made, covered and refrigerated up to 24 hours in advance.
Adapted from a Food Network recipe.
In a household with three fly fishermen – Dad, my brother Jim and me – there was always an abundance of it around (this was in the days before catch and release). Mom was always looking for interesting ways to fix it, and created this recipe – she even smoked the trout herself. It is still a family favorite although today we tend to make it with purchased smoked trout.
Sally’s Smoked Trout Pate Recipe
2 cups loosely packed, flaked smoked rainbow or brown trout, skin removed (around 10 to 12 ounces)
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
3 tablespoons heavy cream (use half and half as a substitute)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (or more to taste)
Mix all ingredients together in a blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper (careful with the salt – you don’t need much due to the smoky flavor).
Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving. For a nice presentation, pack it into a pretty serving bowl or mound it in the middle of a small serving platter. Serve with crackers.
Variation: Bring pate to room temperature, until softened. Pipe onto toast rounds or stars; garnish with dill.
Make ahead: Paté can be made 2 to 3 days ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator. Can also be frozen.
Fall is here, meaning that it’s hot soup season! Robert and I love enjoying a warm bowl of soup alongside a delicious sandwich for a casual Sunday supper. I particularly love this Zucchini Soup because it is actually healthy (low in fat and carbs), a snap to put together – and, best of all, scrumptious! We recently enjoyed it together with a Turkey, Chutney and Cheese Panini. Both recipes are below – enjoy!
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
2 pounds zucchini, sliced
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup evaporated skim milk (can also use evaporated whole milk)
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. When hot, add chopped onion and cook, stirring, until onion is limp. Add zucchini, broth, basil, nutmeg, pepper and garlic powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for around 15 to 20 minutes or until zucchini is very tender when pierced with a fork. Cool slightly. Puree with an immersion blender, or put half of mixture into a blender and puree until smooth; put puree in same sauce pan and repeat with second half. Stir in the milk and heat over medium heat until hot. Crumble one slice bacon into each serving; serve immediately.
Note: this soup is better served hot than at room temperature or cold.
Make ahead: Soup can be made up to 2 days ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated. Reheat over medium-low heat.
Turkey, Chutney and Cheese Panini
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
4 8-inch flour tortillas
1/4 cup mango chutney
12 ounces sliced deli turkey
8 tablespoons shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Preheat panini maker, or spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray.
Spread 2 tablespoons cream cheese on each tortilla. Spread 1 tablespoon mango chutney over the cream cheese on half of each tortilla. Place turkey on top of the chutney. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons Cheddar cheese over turkey. Fold tortilla in half over the cheese is melted and tortillas are lightly toasted. Cut in half and serve immediately.