Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mint Chocolate Brownies

Mint Chocolate Brownies
Makes 24 brownies

1 box Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate cake mix
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
2 tbsp water
4 oz. Andes crème de menthe baking chips
6 oz. semisweet chocolate morsels
1 can vanilla frosting
¼ tsp green food color

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, add cake mix, eggs, oil, and water together. Use mixer until a dough forms. Stir in morsels and baking chips. Add to rectangular dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes until set in the middle. Use tooth pick to ensure the middle is cooked. While brownies bake, mix together vanilla frosting and food color until it’s green. Once brownies are done, add frosting on top.

Nutritional Information: Again, NOT healthified, but fun and festive nonetheless. :)

Review: These were SO minty fresh - loved that. I only had a small bite of one and it was like danger danger danger! They were super thick and chocolatey, and the andes added minty crunch. The frosting was such a gluttenous add but they weren't "green enough" without it so why not? They went FAST. I think I should have worked on the presentation, and they would look cute with flags (which I felt were too much of a disconnect with a "beer fest" hehe.) Great recipe though - could see myself making it again for an event!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pasta Bar Menu for 30

I hosted a January baby shower for my sister and a little over 30 of her closest friends. The cold weather meant I wanted to serve hot food, so the sternos, pans and stands (purchased at Costco) came in handy. I also made signs for each side of the pan, so guests could see the name of the dish, including main ingredients. Lastly, instead of one big pan of each dish, I used two smaller pans in each one and allowed guests to serve from both sides. I also made sure to include one meatless dish and one meatless salad - hoping there would be a little something for everyone. Please note, this menu does NOT include desserts. I ordered cupcakes for the event. As usual, if you notice anything missing or have any questions please let me know!

Main Dishes: Pasta with Sundried Tomato Pesto; Baked Italian Sausage Pasta; Pasta Fagioli (meatless)
Salad: 'That Good Salad' - one meatless one with meat
Bread: 2 loaves of French bread with spread
Bread close up
Pasta Close up
Salad (same salad - one with bacon and one without for our non-meat-eating buddies)
Signs show which has bacon and which is meatless
Dessert: Hire out! :) Unless you're a baker, which, i'm not!


Pasta with Sundried Tomato Pesto
Makes 12 Servings (x3 of normal recipe)

24 oz. rotini
3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves, drained (300 grams)
¾ package basil leaves cut into ribbons
6 tbsp slivered almonds (42 grams)
6 tbsp reduced fat parmesan cheese
3 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
¾ teaspoon black pepper
6 oz. fat free feta cheese
36 oz. Chicken
3 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (for chicken)

Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain through a sieve over a bowl, reserving 2 cups cooking liquid. Return pasta to pan. While pasta cooks, add chicken, olive oil and salt and pepper to a large pan. Cook chicken until no longer pink, about 4-6 minutes. While pasta and chicken are cooking, place tomatoes and next 6 ingredients (through black pepper) in a food processor; process until finely chopped. Combine tomato mixture and the reserved cooking liquid, stirring with a whisk. Add pasta to chicken pan, and add mix to pan. Stir well. Serve in tray and sprinkle top with feta.

Baked Italian Sausage Pasta
Makes 12 Servings (x2 of normal recipe)

2 packs of 5 Jennie-O Hot Italian Turkey Sausage links, casings removed
22 oz. pasta of your choice (I used Ziti), cooked per package instructions
6 tbsp parmesan
200 grams fat-free ricotta cheese
4 tbsp fresh basil, finely diced
4 cups low-calorie spaghetti sauce
100 grams Fresh Mozzarella, grated
2 tsp dried basil

Preheat oven to 400. Set a large pan (that has a lid) to medium and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add sausage to pan, and top with lid. Cook sausage for 15 minutes, turning and breaking up with a spoon every few minutes. In the meantime, in a large bowl, combine parmesan, basil, ricotta cheese and 3 cups spaghetti sauce and mix thoroughly. Add cooked pasta. Stir. Shred now-cooked sausage with two forks. Add to mixture and stir. Divide mixture into two rectangular baking dishes that have been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Spread remaining 1 cup sauce on top. Bake for 12 minutes. Spoon into serving pans, pat the tops flat with a spoon, and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and dried basil.

Pasta Fagioli Recipe
Makes 8 Servings

2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, small to medium size
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 celery stalk, diced
2 15 oz can cannellini beans
2 15 oz can tomato sauce
2 large bay leaf
2 tbsp basil, dried
2 tbsp parsley, dried
2 tsp oregano, dried
8 cups fat free chicken broth (or 2 cans)
4 cups water
Sea salt and pepper to taste
16 oz. small pasta (I used mini fusili)
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
80 grams fresh mozzarella, grated

In a deep pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Blend can of beans with one cup water in electric blender until smooth. Repeat with second can of beans and another cup of water. Add blended beans to pan then add the tomato sauce, celery, chicken broth, basil, bay leaf, parsley, oregano, sea salt and pepper. Add 2 cups water and bring to slow boil. Let simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add pasta and cook uncovered until pasta is al dente*, according to pasta directions. Ladle into pan, and top with parmesan and mozzarella.

*Do NOT cook pasta early on this recipe. It's important that it cooks in the other ingredients to make it less soupy/easier for guests to eat.

That Good Salad (double it for two salads)

Dressing (Make TWO of mixture below for two salads if you do one meatless):
3/4 Cup EVOO
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup lemon juice

Salad (Make TWO of mixture below for two salads if you do one meatless; just omit bacon from second one):
2 bunches Romaine Lettuce
2 cups tomatoes, diced
1 cup swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
8 strips bacon, fried & broken into pieces
1 cup caesar salad croutons

Mix ingredients together; cover & refrigerate until ready to serve. Pour dressings over salads just before serving and mix well.


2 loaves Italian bread, sliced to 1-inch thick

Spread for bread: 10 tbsp butter, softened; 4 tsp olive oil, 2 tbsp minced garlic, 2 tsp oregano, salt and pepper. Preheat broiler. Mix all ingredients except cheese. Spread on bread. Arrange on baking sheets and broil for 5 minutes. Add to bread basket.


Weekend Before
  1. Make grocery list and buy all ingredients you need.
  2. Make sure you have plenty of plates, napkins, silverware, etc. - especially if you're using paper products
Day Before
  1. Dice package of basil and two tomatoes
  2. Defrost 36 oz. chicken
  3. Defrost 2 packs of Jennie-O turkey sausage
  4. Cook 22 oz. ziti and put in large zip lock bag
  5. Make ALL Pasta Fagioli – put in large Tupperware dishes and store in refrigerator
  6. Mix dressing for salads and store in plastic containers on counter
  7. Clean lettuce using salad spinner. Dice lettuce and store in large zip lock bags
  8. Shred cheeses if not purchased shredded
Day of
timeline to have food on sternos at 6 p.m. (adjust timeline for time of event start)
  • 3 p.m. Put out plates, sternos, etc., where you want to serve them
  • 3:15 p.m. Remove Pasta Fagioli from refrigerator
  • 4 p.m. Make salad in bowls you plan to present them in – put in fridge (do not add dressing yet)
  • 4:30 p.m. Make spread and spread on bread
  • 4:45 p.m. Start pasta with sundried tomato pesto (important that this cooks day of as you need to reserve pasta liquid, helps for consistency, etc.)
  • 5:20 p.m. Start baked Italian sausage pasta (noodles are already made for this)
  • 5:30 p.m. Start microwaving pasta fagioli to get it heated up a bit before it goes on sternos; stir in between heat
  • 5:40 p.m. Remove salads from refrigerator, place on counter for serving and drizzle with dressings
  • 5:45 p.m. Bake bread and add to basket
  • 5:50 p.m. All pastas, bread and salad should be in dishes ready to go. Top each dish with cheese if desired and cover loosely with foil to keep warm before serving.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Greek Stuffed Chicken with Lemon Orzo

Greek Stuffed Chicken with Lemon Orzo
Recipe adapted from Fitness Magazine
Makes 4 Servings

5 oz. fresh spinach
2 tsp minced garlic, jarred
Pinch nutmeg
4 4-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¾ cup fat-free feta cheese
1 tsp fresh basil
1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz. orzo
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup parmesan cheese (Kraft)
¼ cup fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Warm a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and cook, tossing, 3 minutes until wilted. Add garlic and nutmeg and cook, tossing, 2 minutes. Transfer to a colander. Once cooled off, squeeze liquid from spinach and then add to a bowl with feta and basil. Use a knife to cut feta and spinach into smaller, easier to stuff, pieces. Butterfly chicken and open like a book. Cover with wax paper and pound to an even ¼-inch thickness. Place a quarter of the mixture along the center of the breast; roll and secure with toothpicks. In the skillet, heat 1 tsp oil over medium-high heat. Add stuffed chicken and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until the bottoms are golden. Turn and cook another 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes. Bring pot of water to a boil; add orzo and cook according to package instructions. Drain, reserving 2 tbsp of liquid, and toss with lemon zest, lemon juice, parmesan, parsley and remaining 2 tsp olive oil. Use liquid if needed.

Nutritional Information: 421 calories, 45 carbs, 8 fat grams and 43 protein grams.

Review: Whoa! It was a great recipe. The chicken was super tender and juicy, and the stuffing was flavorful. The garlic gave the spinach a nice flavor. The pasta paired perfect with it - the parmesan thickened up the orzo, and the parsley, olive oil and lemon zest (more so than the juice) gave it a lot of punch. It was a nice, light meal with lots of color that was very filling!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lemon Basil Pasta

Lemon Basil Pasta
Recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens
Makes 4 Servings

10 oz. linguine
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
½ of a lemon
2 ½ tbsp olive oil
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 tsp minced garlic

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Add beans for the last two minutes of cooking time. Remove ½ cup cooking liquid and set aside. Drain pasta and beans. Meanwhile, finely shred peel from the lemon half. In food processor or blender, combine lemon peel, basil, garlic, olive oil, juice from lemon half, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Process until smooth. Add reserved cooking liquid, 1 tbsp at a time, until desired consistency (I used 3 tbsp). Toss lemon-basil mixture with pasta mixture.

Nutritional Information: 409 calories, 71 carbs, 10 fat grams and 15 protein grams.

Review: I liked this but didn't love it. I think with this one I just really missed the meat and that made me sad. It was great hot, but not as good reheated. I don't hate it or anything, I just would give it a 3/5. I normally don't post my 3/5 recipes, but I LOVE the idea of a bean pasta and want to work with this one to hopefully like it more. Any ideas?!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Black Bean Pizza

Black Bean Pizza
Recipe adapted from Fitness Magazine
Makes 4 Servings

1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
20 cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ cup chopped scallions
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
16 oz. pizza dough
3 oz. 75% reduced fat cabot cheddar cheese
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
Hot sauce to taste

Preheat the oven to 450. In a medium bowl, combine black beans, tomatoes, scallions, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Roll dough into a circle. Top with tomato sauce, sprinkle with hot sauce and spread using the back of a spoon. Then top with black bean mixture, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Nutritional Information: 419 calories, 73 carbs, 6 fat grams and 19 protein grams.

Review: Spicy & YUMMY. The seasonings added a lot to this but my favorite was probably the juicy tomatoes. I topped mine with a bit of fat-free sour cream, and could see adding cilantro. The original recipe called for corn, but that was just too carby for me! Speaking of carbs, yes, 73 is a good bit. I normally don't go about 60 on a recipe, but this is a great, protein-packed meatless option that i'm sure I'll be having again. It was simple to put together and a great weeknight meal. It also reheated well - I just wrapped it in foil and brought it to work!

whole pizza

Monday, March 21, 2011

Arugula Pesto Chicken Pasta

Arugula Pesto Chicken Pasta
Recipe Adapted from Good Housekeeping
Makes 4 Servings (260 grams)

Salt & Pepper
20 grape tomatoes, quartered
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 tbsp olive oil
8 oz. small pasta (I mixed two!)
2 cups baby arugula, packed
4 tbsp parmesan cheese
2 tsp minced garlic, jarred

Cook pasta per package instructions, and drain, reserving ¼ cup water. In a large skillet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, add chicken sprinkled with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Cook 4 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Remove and add to bowl. Add tomatoes to skillet with 1/8 tsp salt. Cook 3 to 4 minutes until soft, then add to bowl with chicken. Add pasta to bowl. In blender, puree arugula, parmesan, garlic, reserved pasta cooking water and oil. Pour over bowl of chicken, pasta and tomatoes. Mix well.

Nutritional Information (each serving 260 grams): 434 calories, 46 carbs, 12 fat grams and 37 protein grams.

Review: Yum! I loved the idea of using arugula in a new, different way. I also love how green this pasta looked, but without using basil. I use basil SO much, so it was nice to mix it up. I like this light, summery pasta, and thought it was quick to put together (definitely under 20 minutes, including boiling the pasta for 11 minutes). And note: if you forget to reserve the water - no worries. I used 1/4 water straight from the tap after I forgot, and it still tasted excellent! If you like arugula, definitely try it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Breakfast Broccoli and Pasta Pie

Breakfast Broccoli and Pasta Pie
Makes 4 Servings
Recipe adapted from Cooking with My Kid

6 oz. angel hair (dry)
1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli (200 grams)
1/4 cup onions, chopped
1 cup 75% reduced fat cheddar cheese (112 grams)
2 tsp minced garlic, jarred
2 tsp olive oil
3 large eggs
3/4 cup fat-free milk
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
dash of paprika

Preheat oven to 375. Cook pasta per package instructions. Sauté onions in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. In a large bowl whisk together eggs and milk. Add broccoli, cheese and onions. Add pasta, salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Transfer to a greased 9 inch pie dish and sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 25 to 30 minute or until egg is set and top pieces of pasta are slightly crunchy and brown. Remove from oven and let rest before slicing.

Nutritional Information: 348 calories, 38 carbs, 11 fat grams and 24 protein grams.

Review: Yum!! SUCH a fun breakfast idea, and come on, who doesn't love pasta! I enjoyed it and think lots of variations would work (meat versions like ham & onions or sausage & basil; other veggie versions like tomato, feta & spinach, etc.). I can't wait to make it again - and what a cheap "quiche crust" - pasta! It stayed together well and cooked up perfectly. The original recipe didn't call for bread crumbs, but we agreed it needed something crunchy and landed on bread crumbs so I factored them into the nutrition above. YOU GUYS - I'm so excited I found this - bring on more breakfast pasta pies!

whole pie!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
Recipe adapted from a For the Love of Cooking recipe and a Self Magazine recipe
Makes 4 Servings

½ pound tomatoes, cut in ¼ inch slices
½ pound zucchini, cut in ¼ inch slices
½ pound yellow squash, cut in ¼ inch slices
½ red bell pepper, cut in 1-inch strips
½ yellow or green bell pepper, cut in 1 inch strips
¼ pound mushroom caps, cut in ¼ inch slices
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp olive oil
2 - 4 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 to 1 ½ cups spinach
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and black pepper, to taste
400 grams fat-free ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
6 no-boil lasagna noodles
130 grams mozzarella cheese, shredded (divided)
3 cups low-calorie spaghetti sauce (1 28 oz. jar)

Preheat oven to 475. Toss tomatoes, zucchini, squash, peppers, mushrooms, salt, garlic and oil in a bowl. Place vegetables on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Spray cooking spray over top of vegetables. Roast for 22 minutes, until golden brown. In a medium-sized bowl, add ricotta, egg, 60 grams of mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Combine until mixed thoroughly. Layer an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with one cup spaghetti sauce. Lay two noodles on top. Spread half of ricotta mixture on the noodles. Then spoon half of vegetable mixture on top and finish by layering on spinach leaves. Repeat with one cup sauce, two noodles, remainder of ricotta mixture, remainder of vegetable mixture and remainder of spinach leaves. Top with last two noodles. Then top with remaining sauce and remaining 70 grams of cheese. Bake covered** in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes.

**This really fills the dish, so make sure you spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray and place spray-side down over the top so that it doesn't stick to the cheese.

Nutritional information: 423 calories, 48 carbs, 13 fat grams and 29 protein grams.

Review: Seriously? I've never made this before?! What?! Loved it. Austin said it was fantastic, and he didn't miss the meat. It was a perfect blend of veggies and cheeses - it was OOZING cheese - fantastic. I loved the roasted veggies, too. It really added so much to this dish (over sautéing them, I think!). Next time, I could see myself doubling the veggies, then using half over quinoa and then half for this lasagna - I would just hate to not roast more now that I now how awesome they come out! And while this does occupy your oven for a bit of time between the roasting and cooking, if you're pre-cooking other meals you could easily be cooking on the stove or in a slowcooker, or prepping for your other meals on the cutting board!

pic of whole pan

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Zucchini and Parmesan Pasta

Zucchini and Parmesan Pasta
Makes 4 Servings
Recipe inspired by Cooking with My Kid

1 pound zucchini, grated
1 tbsp minced garlic, jarred
1 tbsp chopped basil
zest of 1 large lemon
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
11 oz. angel hair pasta
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tbsp + 2 tsp grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet on medium high. Add garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and basil. Cook for 3 minutes. Put grated zucchini in a colander, squeeze out some of the moisture then add it to the skillet. Turn heat down to medium low and continue to sauté veggies. When water is boiling, cook pasta for 6 minutes. Do not drain. Instead, use tongs to transfer cooked pasta into the skillet with the zucchini. Use the tongs to toss the pasta with the zucchini and cook for another few minutes until it is all combined. Then add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese and stir one more minute.

Nutritional Information: 374 calories, 57 carbs, 9 fat grams and 16 protein grams.

Review: Awesome. I can't get over what a great meat substitute zucchini is! Also, I've never grated zucchini. It couldn't be easier! The original recipe called for much more olive oil, no parmesan, more pasta, more servings, and no lemon juice. I didn't miss these items and liked the idea of 4 servings. And when I made it, I used a bit less zucchini - love the idea of a pound and think it would add a lot (so I changed it above). Also, I loved the garlic and red pepper flakes - great flavor. It tasted like a scampi - but with zucchini! I will make this again - loved the pasta and the lemony flavor - that zest goes such a long way!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Warm Quinoa and Chickpea Salad

Warm Quinoa and Chickpea Salad
Adapted from Fitness Magazine
Makes 4 Servings

1.25 cups dry quinoa
1 ¼ cup water
1 ¼ cup chicken broth
2 tsp minced garlic, jarred
¾ tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp black pepper
2 ½ tbsp olive oil
1 15.5-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
20 grams slivered almonds, finely diced
1/2 large red bell pepper (100 grams), diced
2 cups wild arugula (60 grams), divided into 4 (use more if desired)

Add quinoa to pot, along with water and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes, until water is absorbed and quinoa can be fluffed with a fork. Meanwhile, add garlic, salt, lemon juice, black pepper and olive oil to a large bowl. Stir, then add chickpeas, almonds and bell pepper. Mix well. Once quinoa is done, add to bowl and stir. Divide mixture into four servings (each 228 grams) and serve each over 15 grams arugula.

Nutritional Information: 422 calories, 57 carbs, 16 fat grams and 12 protein grams.

Review: Wow. I was nervous about this. I love quinoa, but didn't know how I felt about a "warm salad." Well, I'm a fan! The quinoa and beans made a soft, almost creamy mix, but the nuts added a nice crunch, along with the arugula and peppers. It was a blend I would have NEVER put together on my own, but it tasted AMAZING. The original recipe called for 1/3 black olives too... I'm glad I left those out. I feel like they would have overpowered the dish. There is nothing else I would change about this - VERY happy with this rainbow, meatless dish! I will say, and I noted above, that more arugula would have been welcome (and clearly wouldn't have added calories!). And speaking of calories (and fat) I don't think I would have missed it if say 1/2-1 tbsp of oil wasn't in here - just saying!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes & Blue Cheese

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes & Blue Cheese
Adapted from Fitness Magazine
Makes 4 Servings

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cider vinegar
2 tsp minced garlic, jarred
1 ½ tsp oregano, dried
1 tsp salt
Pinch red pepper flakes
20 cherry tomatoes (about 250 grams), quartered
9 oz. farfalle
40 grams baby arugula, divided
2 oz. crumbled blue cheese, divided
Black pepper, to taste

Cook farfalle according to package instructions until al dente. While pasta cooks, whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add tomatoes and toss to combine. Set aside. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water, and once it's pretty dry add to tomato mixture and Stir well. Divide pasta/tomato mixture into 4 servings (each should weigh about 218 grams) and then add about 10 grams of arugula, 14 grams of blue cheese and black pepper, to taste, to each serving.

Nutritional Information: 381 calories, 59 carbs, 16 fat grams and 12 protein grams.

Review: YUM, YUM YUM. So glad to have made this one today. I LOVED the flavors and think it's even better 'next day.' That little bit of blue cheese went such a long way, and I loved the flavor the arugula added. And the sauce got SO tucked into those little pieces of cherry tomatoes that it was pretty fabulous. Also, I thought the 'dressing' mix was really fresh and light - this will be a perfect recipe for the spring and summer!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens
Makes 36 cookies
DISCLAIMER: These are NOT healthified. I know, I know -then why are they on the site? They're on here because we do a St. Patty's party every year and they're awesome. The end. Don't hate me! :)

1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
½ cup butter, softened (stick butter)
½ tsp mint extract
1/4 tsp green food color
1 egg
1 cup Andes crème de menthe baking chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350. Mix cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg in a bowl. Stir until soft dough forms. Stir in baking chips and chocolate chunks. Using gloved hands, form small balls of dough, about 2" in diameter, and place them 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets (3 rectangular sheets with 12 cookies each). Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 3 minutes. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Nutritional Information: This is not healthified! It's just a fun event dish for St. Patrick's Day. Or maybe Christmas. I dunno - I guess you could make green & red cookies - fun! Anywho - no nutritionals today! :)

Review: Wow. It's like a chocolate thin mint. Move over girl scouts - i've met your match. I had a half of one of these and was pretty dang impressed with myself (j/k - it's a super easy recipe). I'll definitely make this again and could see this recipe being used again for sure! Probably a fun one for kids, too. :)

many of the 36!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Three-Cheese Chicken Florentine

Three-Cheese Chicken Florentine
Adapted from Cooking Light
Makes 6 servings

8 oz. penne pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms
1 cup onion, diced
7 oz. roasted red peppers, drained and chopped (used jarred)
10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) carton 2% low-fat cottage cheese
20 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked and loosely shredded
3 oz. Cabot 75% reduced fat cheddar cheese, divided
4 tsp parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can fat-free cream of chicken soup
Optional for more kick: 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes and 2 tsp jarred minced garlic added to the vegetables while cooking.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a rectangular dish with cooking spray and set aside. Cook penne according to package directions to al dente, drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion and 'optional' ingredients. Sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add red peppers, spinach, oregano, and black pepper; sauté 3 minutes or until heated through. Process cottage cheese in a food processor or blender until very smooth. In a large bowl, combine spinach mixture, cottage cheese, pasta, chicken, 2 oz. cheddar cheese, milk and soup. Mix thoroughly. Spoon mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and remaining cheddar. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.

Review: We really enjoyed this dish! Super creamy and flavorful, I think it will be even better on the reheat! It was my first time cooking with cottage cheese and I have to say - YUM! Loved how much protein it added too. This is a great 'rainbow' dish and I will certainly be making it again! This was filling, fabulous and while it wasn't the quickest dish to make, it makes 6 servings which always makes me happy. Because of the creaminess I wouldn't shy away from freezing this one either. Head's up: this one takes a while to put together with the dicing, cooking spinach and cooking chicken!

Nutritional Information: 426 calories, 44 carbs, 8 fat grams and 44 protein grams.

whole pan

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Greek Pasta Salad

Greek Pasta Salad
Makes 4 Servings

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
¾ tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp oregano, dried
¼ tsp basil, dried
1 tsp minced garlic, jarred
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ packet splenda
1 oz. fat-free feta cheese
1 oz. fresh tomatoes, diced

1 oz. fat-free feta cheese
8 oz. pasta, small shape
3 oz. fresh tomatoes, diced
2-3 cups spinach

1 cucumber, deseeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
30 Hormel Turkey Pepperonis, quartered

Cook pasta per package instructions. Drain and set aside. Combine all ‘dressing’ items in a blender or food processor. Mix pasta with ‘other’ ingredients – feta cheese and tomatoes. Add ‘optional’ ingredients if desired. Toss with now-blended dressing. Serve on a bed of spinach.

Nutritional information (without pepperonis): 293 calories, 46 carbs, 8 fat grams and 11 protein grams.

Nutritional information (with pepperonis): 324 calories, 46 carbs, 10 fat grams and 11 protein grams.

Review: I think this one tasted best right after we made it. When we reheated it, it was a little bit dry. Probably because I didn’t use more oil. I added tomatoes in to the dressing part, and think it will improve the dryness. Or, I would suggest adding a 1/4 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt (like Fage). Regardless, this was a great, flavorful recipe – I love the dressing and it’s a super colorful and tasty dish. I think it’s going to make a great spring and summer staple around our casa. The pepperonis can be a fun add on, but of course no biggie to keep it meatless, which is what we're moving toward doing 1-2 days per week at our place!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Coconut Curry Soup

Coconut Curry Soup
Recipe adapted by Mel’s Kitchen Café
Makes 4 Servings

1 tbsp olive oil
1 pound chicken breasts, diced
Salt and pepper for seasoning
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 14-oz. can light coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper or more to taste
1 tsp light brown sugar
½ tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp lime juice
¼ cup fresh cilantro
1 cup basmati rice (dry), cooked

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let chicken cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onions and red pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onions and peppers are slightly softened. (The chicken and vegetables don’t have to be fully cooked as they will simmer and cook further in the next step.) Add chicken broth, coconut milk, fish sauce, cayenne pepper, brown sugar and curry powder. Stir to combine. Bring soup to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve a ladle or two of the soup over a scoop of rice and garnish with more cilantro, if desired.

Nutritional Information: 417 calories, 43 carbs, 12 fat grams and 31 protein grams.

Review: This one was a major win for us! I loved the flavor, loved the basmati rice and am a huge fan of anything with coconut milk and curry powder - yum! The cilantro was great too and I liked how much color this dish had with the red pepper. It was a nice consistency - almost like a soupier curry with a pretty this sauce, but the rice helped thicken it up. We will definitely make this again - no changes!

a spoonful from the bottom - yummy basmati rice!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chicken & Cheese Crescent Pockets

Chicken & Cheese Crescent Pockets
Recipe inspired by Blog Chef
Makes 4 Servings

1 (8 ounce) can reduced fat crescent rolls
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can fat-free cream of chicken soup
½ cup cabot 75% reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese

2 ounces fat-free cream cheese (softened)
2 tbsp light butter with canola oil (softened)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
16 oz. chicken breasts, cooked in salt and pepper and shredded
¼ cup Cabot 75% reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
¼ tsp seasoning salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp fat-free mayonnaise
Topping: ¼ cup Cabot 75% reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese; optional topping: fresh parsley flakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a rectangular casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a saucepan mix cheese and soup. Heat until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. To make the filling- in a bowl mix cream cheese and butter until smooth, add garlic powder. Add in chicken and cheese. Mix until well combined. Add mayonnaise. Stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle a small amount of the chicken soup mixture on the bottom of the casserole dish. Unroll crescent rolls on wax paper, and separate into 4 rectangles. Press seams together. Divide mixture into four, and top on each crescent rectangle, then pick up one side and fold over to the middle. Pick up the other side and do the same. Press together the new seam, flip it over and put it seam side down in the dish, then use your fingers to press the sides closed. Repeat with the other three. (make sure to put the four pockets as far away from each other as possible in the pan). Drizzle remaining soup mixture on top and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Nutritional Information: 453 calories, 32 carbs, 16 fat grams and 43 protein grams.

Review: Loved! So creamy and fabulous. I used to eat a recipe similar to this in college - but it was all-fat! I liked combining the crescents into one large (rather than two small) -it made the filling stand out more and it was more fun to eat. The shredded chicken went well with this, and the garlic powder gave it a nice kick. I also couldn't get over how creamy the mayonnaise and cream of chicken made this dish - it was definitely comfort food to the max an something I would crave if I was ever tired or just wanted something "bad for me." :) I could see myself doubling this and freezing half!