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Category Archives: Healthier

Deceptively Delicious Chicken Cannelloni

Steve gets off work earlier than me and he came over the other night be help with garbage, then he challenged himself to make this dish from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious. He was in a bit of a hurry and didn’t read the direction for cauliflower puree closely enough. He didn’t steam the veg first and ended up having a difficult time pureeing it in the blender. In his defense, its not well laid out in the book. You have to go back and forth between pages for directions on how to steam, and then directions on how to purée, which is a little cumbersome if you haven’t made purées before. Anyway, when I got home I tried microwaving the puree but gave up because I couldn’t really tell if it was doing anything. We went on with the recipe as directed and it turned out pretty well I think. In the first couple of bites I could taste the cauliflower but got used to it. It may have been because it wasn’t cooked first, I’m not sure. Other than that, it’s a pretty basic dish but once Miss M. finally starts eating foods that are mixed together, I will give it a try again. (Sorry about posting such a mess of a dish but we nearly forgot to take a pic.)

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Chicken Cannelloni

8 whole wheat lasagna sheets ( 4×4 or 3×6 inches)

cooking spray

1 lb chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

3/4 cup cauliflower puree

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups jarred tomato sauce

1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Ahead of time: cut the cauliflower into bite sized pieces and steam for about 10 minutes. Whir in a blender or food processor for about a minute or two, with a teaspoon or two of water, until smooth.

Boil and salt the water for the lasagna sheets. Cook, drain and then place the lasagna in a bowl of cool water.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix the chicken, ricotta, cauliflower puree, parmesan, garlic powder, and salt until the chicken is well coated.

Place 1 lasagna sheet on the cutting board. On the edge closest to you, spread out 1/4 cup of the filling so that it covers 1/3 of the sheet. With your fingertips, roll the lasagna into a tube (lift the edge of the pasta with the filling and roll). Transfer seam-side down to the baking sheet. Pour the sauce around the cannelloni but not on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake, uncovered, 25-30 minutes.

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Chocolate Banana Muffins w/ Choc. Peanut Butter Icing

My 4 year old has decided that she no longer likes bananas so I had a couple lying around that didn’t get eaten. I poked around in Pinterest and found this recipe that I thought would be a nice change from plain banana bread. I was about 3 spoonfuls shy of 1.5 cups of mashed banana so I topped it up with apple sauce and it worked really well. The muffins are very soft and moist with a hint of banana and lots of chocolate flavour, especially with the icing. To make them a little more decadent I added Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing from Chocolate Covered Katie. So freakin’ good! And a bonus – my daughter likes them! I highly recommend these.

Tip: a whisk makes for quick banana mashing.

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Chocolate Banana Muffins

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups mashed bananas (about 2 1/2 large)
⅓ cup oil
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1½ cups flour
¼ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Sugar for sprinkling on tops

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine bananas, oil, egg large mixing bowl.
In a separate large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder. Add to banana mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into greased or lined muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. (Mine took 21 minutes)

Makes about 16-17 muffins if measuring with an ice cream scoop.

Source: http://www.chef-in-training.com

Lighter Crockpot Beef Stew

I’m still trying to incorporate more healthy recipes into my repertoire and my friend Steve suggested we make two slow cooker meals during the weekend and share them so that we can both have healthy meals during the week. That way we don’t get sick of eating the same dish like 4 days in a row. Well, we had the best of intentions but he forgot to bring over his slow cooker. I had a major slow cooked beef craving so I decided to go ahead and make this stew. I must warn you, it’s not a quick and easy, dump it and leave it kind of a recipe. It takes a while to brown your meat, then you have to chop all the veggies and brown your mushrooms, which took way longer than the 5-7 minutes they stated in the book. I had everything crammed into one large skillet and it took forever for the mushrooms to sweat off their moisture and brown. After that’s completed you have to throw in a 1/2 cup of flour to make a kind of roux I suspect, but it’s not really possible to do when you’re only supposed to use 1 tsp of oil for all of this. There was not enough moisture to soak up the flour so I gave up and added the rest of the ingredients anyway. It all worked out in the end and it tasted pretty darn good! If I hadn’t made it myself I wouldn’t have known it was lower in fat. It’s even better the next day.

Source: “Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution”

Lite Beef Stew

Country Beef and Vegetable Stew

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds boneless chuck-eye roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms trimmed and quartered
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus extra as needed
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound red potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS

  1. After the meat has been cut into chunks, pat it dry with a paper towel and season all the pieces with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown the beef in two batches until it is well browned on each side, about 8 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  2. Add the mushrooms and onions to fat left in the skillet, cover and cook until mushrooms are dry and browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute. Slowly stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits, and summer until almost completely evaporated, 5-7 minutes. Stir in one cup of broth, smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.
  3. Stir in remaining 2 cups of broth, soy sauce, bay leaves, and 3/4 tsp salt into slow cooker,then stir in potatoes and carrots. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9-11 hours on low or 6-8 hours on high.
  4. Discard bay leaves. Stir in peas and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. (Adjust stew consistency with extra hot broth as needed.) Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Per 1 2/3 cup serving: 380 calories, Fat 6g, Chol 75mg, Carb 40g, Protein 34g, Fiber 6g, sodium 862mg

Healthier Blondies

We have soooo much candy and chocolate leftover from Halloween baking that I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have gummies galore plus a ton of M&M mini’s leftover from making monster cupcakes so I decided I would do something fun, but not quite as terrible for us. Inspired by the Becel Buttery commercial I decided to try substituting some of the butter in my favourite blondie recipe with Becel, and some of the sugar with Splenda. Creaming the butter and sugar/splenda didn’t really happen. It mixed together but it was definitely a different consistency. And the final batter was very thick and difficult to spread. I baked them for 19 minutes and they turned out very cake-like. They were still moist but not gooey and sweet like a blondie is supposed to be. Taste wise they were fine. I think I would call them squares of some sort instead of blondies to temper any disappointment for anyone expecting that signature gooey goodness. Kids would still gobble them up, no problem. I have a new found respect for the cooks that develop lower fat or lower sugar recipes. It takes a lot more than a simple substitution to make a recipe a success. Hats off to you!

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Healthier Blondies (or M&M Squares / Chocolate Chips Squares?)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup Becel Buttery

1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup Splenda granular (measures cup for cup like sugar)

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla

Pinch salt

1 cup (4 3/8 ounces or 125 grams) all-purpose flour

1 cup M&M minis or chocolate chips, divided

1.Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper.
2.Mix butters with sugars until pale. Beat in egg and then vanilla.
3.Add salt, stir in flour. Add half the candies or chocolate chips. Stir until just mixed together.
4.Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining candies or chocolate chips on top. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle. (I baked mine for 19 minutes)

Spicy Grilled Lemon Chicken and Brown Rice and Mushroom Salad

As you guys have probably figured out, I am a cookbook addict and I especially enjoy bargain hunting at the thrift store or dollar stores. I found this cookbook at the Dollarama by Sandra Lee, “Money Saving Meals and Round Two Recipes”. I haven’t tried any of her recipes before because I had only known her to make the “semi-homemade” dishes, but this cookbook is different. The recipes are homemade and I like the concept of revamping leftovers in order to save time and money. I had some chicken breasts on hand so I decided to give this recipe a try. It was pretty good but it didn’t totally wow me. It’s quick and healthy in a pinch. In Sandra’s defense, I probably did pick the most boring recipe in the book. There are more than a few dishes in there that looked quite appetizing. I had planned on making the stuffed peppers the next night but my daughter and I missed our bus at the end of the day, she needed to pee so we stopped into the grocery so she could use the bathroom. She was whiny and hungry so I ended up getting her the pre-made chicken fingers meal instead. I never did get around to making the peppers, or taking photos. This one’s from foodnetwork.com. Welcome to real life! lol

Spicy Grilled Lemon Chicken

Total Time:3 hr 20 min Prep:25 min Inactive:2 hr Cook:55 min

Yield:4 servings

Ingredients

Spicy Grilled Lemon Chicken:
1 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken breast with skin
1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more for grilling
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 lemons, zested and juiced, juice reserved for Brown Rice and Mushroom Salad

Brown Rice and Mushroom Salad:
1 cup chicken broth
Kosher salt
2 cups brown rice
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 (8-ounce) package sliced mushrooms, chopped

Reserved lemon juice from Spicy Grilled Lemon Chicken
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 tablespoon canola oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Directions

For the chicken: Remove the skin from the chicken breasts and take the breasts off the bone separating out the tenders. Cut the breasts in half lengthwise. Put the breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound them thin with a rolling pin or small skillet.

Put the chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag, pour the oil into the bag, and add the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest. Mix it all together, seal the bag, put it in a bowl, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Refrigerate the tenders separately.

Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium heat.

Oil the grill to prevent the chicken from sticking. When you are ready to cook, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Put the chicken breasts and tenders on the grill and cook until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side (reserve the chicken tenders for the online Round 2 Recipe Grilled Chicken and Apple Wraps).

For the salad: In a saucepan with a lid, heat 2 cups water, chicken broth, and 1 teaspoon salt over medium-high heat. Stir in the rice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and spread it out onto a sheet pan to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled rice, onions, celery, carrots, and mushrooms.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, brown mustard, canola oil, salt and pepper, to taste, parsley, and thyme. Whisk until well combined. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss everything together. (Reserve 2 cups for the Round 2 Recipe Stuffed Peppers.) Cover and refrigerate if not serving right away.

Serve the breasts while hot with the Brown Rice and Mushroom Salad.

Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients
2 red bell peppers
2 cups reserved brown rice mixture from Brown Rice and Mushroom Salad
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the red peppers in half and scoop out the seeds and ribs. Place them onto a baking sheet.

To the reserved brown rice mixture, stir in half the cheese and all the tomatoes. Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture, dividing it evenly. Top the peppers with the remaining cheese. Bake until the peppers are tender and the cheese has melted, 25 to 30 minutes.

 

Pork Tenderloin with Maple Pan Juices

Well you’ve probably heard me say this more than once, but I am trying even harder to eat better, not just for my weight but for my health. I have to get my blood work done again soon and I realized I kind of fell of the healthy cooking bandwagon again so I have to get back on with hopes of making a difference in my cholesterol numbers. I’ve been checking labels and recipes for saturated fat and sodium levels, and dipping into my Cooking Light Magazine recipe stash. I found this dish in the “Cooking Light Complete Cookbook”. It’s huge and has hundreds of recipes which I really need to tap into more often.We only marinaded it for 30 minutes and it still turned out great. In another review someone mentioned they had a hard time getting the sauce to thicken and so did I, so I took their recommendation and added a tsp or so of cornstarch which did the trick. Despite the hiccup, this one is a definite keeper. Sweet, savory, and so satisfying!

On the side was a recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine for Mustard and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes. I cut the Dijon in half and the potatoes were still crisp and flavourful. They also cooked a lot faster than 50 minutes – more like 40. Highly recommend them!

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Pork Tenderloin with Maple Pan Juices

1/3 cup diced onion
1/4 cup fresh orange juice, divided
1/4 cup maple syrup, divided
2 tablespoons sake (rice wine) – I used white wine because that’s what I had on hand
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
Cooking spray
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

Combine onion, 2 tablespoons juice, 2 tablespoons syrup, sake, soy sauce, pepper and garlic in a large zip-top plasitc bag. Trim fat from pork. Add pork to bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a 9-inch heavy ovenproof skillet coated with a little cooking spray over medium-high heat. (I used a cast iron skillet because I think they work the best when browning and roasting meats, and I did use a little olive oil instead of the cooking spray, which I know added a some fat). Remove pork from bag, reserving marinade. Add pork to pan; cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Place pan in oven; bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees (slightly pink). Remove pork from pan. Set aside, and keep warm.

Combine 2 tablespoons juice, 2 tablespoons syrup, reserved marinade, and broth in a small bowl. Add syrup mixture to pan, and place over medium-high heat, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thick. (I could not get it to thicken; so, mixed a little cornstarch with cold water, and added to the mixture to thicken.) Serve sauce with pork. Yields 4 servings.

Serving size: 3 ounces pork and 2 tablespoons of sauce. Per serving: calories 204 (13% from fat); fat 3 g (sat 1g, mono 1.3g, poly 0.4g); protein 24.4g; carb 16.9g; fiber 0.3g; chol 74 mg; iron 1.8mg; sodium 293mg; calc 29mg. These stats are without any of my changes to the recipe.

Mustard and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

These potatoes start out looking very wet, but the mixture cooks down to leave the potatoes crisp, crusty, and tangy.

1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs. dry vermouth or other dry white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lb. red-skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch dice

Heat the oven to 400°F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mustard, olive oil, vermouth, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Dump the potatoes onto a large rimmed baking sheet and spread them in a single layer. Roast, tossing with a spatula a few times, until the potatoes are crusty on the outside and tender throughout, 50 to 55 minutes. Serve hot.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on six servings; Calories (kcal): 220; Fat (g): fat g 11; Fat Calories (kcal): 100; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 1; Protein (g): protein g 4; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 30; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 730; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 0; Fiber (g): fiber g 3;

Grilled Chicken Soft Tacos

Just in time for the long weekend! I’m on such a Mexican food kick this summer. A couple of weeks ago I made beef fajitas from my $3 Weber’s grilling cookbook and this week I tried a chicken taco. Man it did not disappoint! I’m loving these little cookbooks more and more. I didn’t bother making the slaw or sauce so I cannot review that portion of the recipe but the marinade was great. It’s not too spicy at all and adds just enough flavour to make things interesting.

My version of the tacos are a combination of the Weber marinade and a quick recipe/suggestion from Cooking Light. Instead of rotisserie chicken I marinaded and grilled chicken thighs, grilled the onions and added a splash of vinegar, then topped the tacos with corn, salsa, and a little mozzarella cheese. My picky 4 year old actually loved it! I am beyond amazed! She would only eat the components seperately, but normally if she smells any kind of seasoning or sauce she turns her nose up at it and there’s no way she’s going to eat it. This time she said “Yum!” It’s a miracle! Weber needs to put me in a commercial or something. LOL!

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Grilled Chicken Tacos with Cilantro-lime Slaw

Ingredients for Marinade

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Ingredients for the Slaw

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

6 cups finely shredded green cabbage

1/2 cut thinly sliced green onions (white and light green parts only)

1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon minced jalapeno

1 tsp cumin

3/4 tsp kosher salt

Ingredients for Chipotle Sour Cream

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp finally chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo

Kosher salt, to taste

For assembling the tacos

8 soft taco-size flour tortillas (I used 6″ corn tortillas)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or about 1.5lbs (680g) of boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 cup of tomato salsa

DIRECTIONS

To make Marinade: In a small glass or stainless steel bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken to the bowl and turn to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. (We marinaded our chicken thighs for 30 minutes).

To make the salsa: In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, whisk the oil, lime juice, and salt. Add the remaining slaw ingredients and mix well.

To make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream and chile. Season with salt and more chile, if desired. Refrigerate the slaw and sauce until ready to serve.

To grill chicken: Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350F – 450F) Brush the cooking grates clean. Remove the chicken from the bowl and and discard the marinade. Grill the chicken,smooth (skin) side down first, over direct medium heat, with the lid closed s much as possible, until the meat is firm to the touch and opaque all the way to the centre,  8 to 12 minutes, turning once or twice. During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, heat tortillas according to package instructions, or heat in 2 foil packets over direct medium heat, turning once. Remove the chicken and tortillas from the grill and let the chicken rest for 3-5 minutes. Cut the chicken crosswise into thin slices.

To assemble the tacos: Divide the chicken slices evenly among the tortillas. Top with the slaw, some salsa, and a dollop of sauce. Fold in half and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.

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