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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.
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.
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.
I love spaghetti squash and I’m always experimenting with new ways to fix it. There are several different ways to cook the squash (before you combine it with the rest of the ingredients) and after a bit of experimentation, I decided that microwaving is the best approach. The method described below was developed by Jaden of SteamyKitchen.com – you can see her original instructions here along with another delicious spaghetti squash recipe. While she actually prefers baking the squash, following her microwaving method keeps the prep time on my dish under 15 minutes. Combined with a baking time of around 30 minutes, you can have a delicious (and healthy!) dinner on the table in under an hour!
Spaghetti Squash Marinara with Turkey and Zucchini
1 large spaghetti squash
1 pound ground turkey
2 cups chopped zucchini
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
4 tablespoons whipped cream cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 1/2 to 3 cups marinara sauce (roasted tomato is delicious in this recipe)
1 cup shredded cheese (can use any kind – I use a mixture of cheddar and Monterey Jack, but can also use Mozzarella)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2 1/2 to 3 quart baking dish with olive oil.
Stab the spaghetti squash in several places with a sharp knife. Microwave for around 12 minutes, rotating halfway through. Squash should be tender when poked with a knife. Let squash cool enough to handle, then remove from microwave and cut in half lengthwise. Note that, depending on how long the squash sat in the oven it may still be very hot to handle, especially on the inside. Scrape out the seeds (I like to use a grapefruit spoon) and then using a fork scrape out the strands of spaghetti squash.
While the spaghetti squash is cooking (and cooling), prepare the other ingredients: Spray a large nonstick skillet or sauté pan with olive oil and place over medium heat. Add the ground turkey and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink. Remove cooked turkey from the pan and drain. Wipe out the skillet, spray again with olive oil and place over medium heat. Add the zucchini and garlic and cook until the zucchini is soft. Reduce heat to low, stir in the cooked turkey and cream cheese. Cook, stirring until the cheese melts. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.
Spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with half of the spaghetti squash. Spread 1/2 of the turkey mixture over the squash. Pour half of the sauce that is left (around 1 cup) over the top, then sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the cheese. Repeat layers – rest of the squash, the rest of the turkey mixture, then rest of the sauce and cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly hot.
Make ahead: Dish can be prepared but not baked earlier in the day, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.
I found a mango salsa recipe in my mom’s recipe files after she passed away. I recognized the handwriting on the recipe card as my cousin Beth Kidwell’s, so I knew it would be good as Beth is a real foodie with a family full of gourmet cooks. Looking for something to pair it with, I decided to create a grilled shrimp taco, using the chipotle lime vinaigrette I created last year as the marinade for the shrimp. I tested the resulting dish out on our friends this past Memorial Day, and it received rave reviews! You know people love it when they ask for the recipe, so here it is . . .
Grilled Chipotle-Lime Shrimp Tacos with Tomato Mango Salsa Recipe
(Serves 8 to 10)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
4 teaspoons pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
Tomato Mango Salsa:
3 to 4 small champagne mangoes or 2 regular mangoes
4 medium ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
around 12 (8-inch) flour tortillas
Soak around 20 long wooden skewers in water for 2 to 3 hours.
To make the marinade for the shrimp: In the bowl of an electric blender, process the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, pureed chipotle peppers, cilantro, cumin and sugar until well blended. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.
Thread around 7 shrimp on each skewer, threading through the head and the tail of each shrimp (they form a “u” on the skewer). Place them in a large baking dish or rimmed cookie sheet (you may need to turn them on their side so they will all fit). Drizzle the marinade over the top, making sure to cover each shrimp. Set aside for around an hour.
To make the salsa: peel, seed and finely chop the mangoes and place in a medium mixing bowl. Seed and chop the tomatoes and add to the chopped mango. Stir in the red onion, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, nutmeg and cinnamon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from the lime over the top.
Grill the shrimp over medium heat until cooked through, just a few minutes per side. Watch carefully that they don’t burn! I like to use foil grilling paper. Serve with warmed tortillas and the Mango Salsa.
Make ahead: marinade and salsa can be made up to 24 hours in advance, covered and refrigerated.
It’s cold and snowy in Denver today, so I pulled out this comfort food recipe for our dinner tonight, which was given to me while I was living in Europe. I modified it to roast the vegetables instead of steaming them, which was the original method. It’s one of my favorites, with it’s combination of carrots, parsnips and celery root together with a bit of country ham. (You can easily make it vegetarian by omitting the ham if you prefer.) I like to make this unique dish on a cold, winter night (like tonight!) – it warms you up and is good for you too. And, using puff pastry for the crust makes it a snap to assemble.
Ham and Roasted Vegetable Pot Pie
(Serves 6 to 8)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided
12 medium-sized shallots, peeled, trimmed and cut in half
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch square pieces
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch square pieces
1 celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch square pieces
1 to 1 1/4 cups chopped ham (preferably country ham)
1/3 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk (can use whole, 2 percent or skim)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 egg, beaten
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallots, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Increase heat to medium, stir in thyme and sugar and continue cooking, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes or until caramelized. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.
Place in a large deep-dish pie pan. Set aside.
While the shallots are cooking: place the carrots, turnip and celery root in a shallow roasting pan and spray with olive oil; toss. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork, stirring occasionally. Add to the pie dish along with the chopped ham and stir together.
Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Parmesan cheese and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into the pie dish and stir well.
Brush the edges of the pie dish with beaten egg. Cover with the pastry, trimming excess (use the trimmings to decorate the top if desired). Push down on the edges to adhere to the pan. Brush top of pastry with egg and cut a slit or two in the center for steam to escape. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Cover edges if they start to burn.
Make ahead: pot pie can be assembled but not baked earlier in the day, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.
I love split pea soup, and this year I decided to make a batch using the bone and leftovers from our Christmas country ham. It turned out delicious! A warning: country ham tastes saltier than regular ham, and if you’re not accustomed to its flavor you might want to skip cooking the soup with the ham bone. I would still recommend stirring in the chopped ham at the end.
Split Pea Soup with Country Ham
(Serves 6 to 8)
2 cups dried split peas, rinsed and picked over
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped leeks
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 to 3 quarts chicken broth
1 country ham bone
1 cup chopped cooked country ham
Place the peas in a medium mixing bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight. Drain, rinse and set aside.
In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, leeks and celery and sauté until soft and just beginning to brown, around 8 to 10 minutes. Add 2 quarts of the chicken broth and the ham bone; bring to a boil, partially cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the peas, uncover and continue cooking at a low simmer for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the peas are tender. (The longer you cook it, the creamier the consistency of the soup.) Remove the ham bone and stir in the chopped country ham. Thin with additional chicken broth as needed. Serve hot.
Note: I think this soup tastes best if you stir in the ham and then let it set for a bit off the heat – at least 30 minutes, or even overnight in the refrigerator. It thickens as it sits so you will want to thin it with more broth.
Another delicious recipe to take full advantage of the vast amount of zucchini and various fresh mushrooms at the farmer’s market this time of year. Inspired by a Julia Childs’ recipe, this dish can be made vegetarian, or with ham (see “Variation” on the bottom).
Zucchini Timbales with Mushroom Sauce
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini, rung dry in paper towel
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons grated yellow onion
2 tablespoons parsley
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup milk (whole, 2% or skim)
a few dashes of Tabasco sauce
5 tablespoons butter
1 pound fresh mushrooms (I like to use a mix – shitake, cremini, oyster, etc.), chopped
8 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup flour
4 cups evaporated milk (whole or skim)
3 tablespoons port
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter four 6- to 8-ounce ramekins.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all the timbale ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Divide evenly among the ramekins. Place in a roasting pan and put in the oven. Pour boiling water around the cups to come halfway up. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and continue baking for an additional 50 to 55 minutes, or until firm in the center and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then run a knife around the side to loosen. Place serving dish over the top, invert and pull off ramekin and spoon mushroom sauce over the top.
While the timbales are baking, make the mushroom sauce: In a large skillet or sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the mushrooms and scallions and cook until soft. Stir in the flour, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in the milk, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened. Stir in port and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm. Note: sauce will thicken a lot as it sits.
Variation: substitute 1/2 cup chopped cooked ham for 1/2 cup of the zucchini.