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Loaded Cauliflower

1 Mar

I thought this was a pretty yummy dish, but it was met with mixed reviews at my dinner table.  My husband loved it. One of my children (the adventurous one) hated it.  I thought it tasted good, as long as you were honest about the fact that it was cauliflower, and not potatoes.  See, a lot of folks are currently wrapped up in this idea that you can make cauliflower look and taste just like other foods (like potatoes, or rice, or pizza crust).  I’ve never been successfully fooled.  As long as you expect and accept that this is going to taste like a delicious variation of your standard cauliflower, I think you will be pleased with the results.  I am not at all a cauliflower fan, but i did enjoy this, and it definitely tasted richer than I would expect from 168 calories!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb bag of cauliflower “pearls” (*see note below)
  • 1 container (5.3 oz) of plain nonfat greek yogurt
  • 6 TBSP Neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese)
  • ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 slices of center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 tbsp dried chives
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*Cauliflower “pearls” are basically just pre-cut pieces of cauliflower that are sold in a bag in the produce section. If your store doesn’t sell prepared cauliflower pearls, just cut up a head of cauliflower, and pulse it in the food processor until the pieces are about the size of bb’s.

Directions:

  1. Cook Cauliflower pearls in the microwave according to package directions (or if you’re making your own cauliflower pearls- microwave on high about 9 minutes)
  2. Carefully remove the cauliflower from the microwave and pour into a medium size bowl.
  3. I like to mash the cauliflower up slightly with a potato masher, but this is totally optional. It’s not going to become “mashed potato” texture as a result, but just a little smoother than not mashing. The texture will still be lumpy unless you take a mixer to it, but I don’t like the way that turns out…so here we are, just slightly smooshing….
  4. Stir in the cream cheese (Neufchatel), the yogurt, the bacon, and ½ a cup of the shredded cheese. Mix well along with the salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Pour the whole thing into a small baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam. I use something smaller than your standard 9×9, like a medium casserole dish.
  6. Spread the cauliflower mixture evenly in the dish, and sprinkle remaining ¼ cup of chees on the top.
  7. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. If cheese starts to get too brown on top, just cover with foil for remaining time.

Makes 5 servings= 168 calories per serving 



Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

13 Feb

This is another one of those recipe mash ups, where I started to crave something that I thought was probably high calorie (rice, heavy cream, butter, etc) so I did some research, compared some recipes, and came up with my own take, making substitutions and additions to get a tasty result at a lower calorie count, and I’m pretty happy with the results.  Even my “soup isn’t real food” husband ate it… which says a lot.  Because, I probably make 20 different soups, and he only eats 2 prior to this one.   I hope you enjoy it too.  Directions for stove top and instant pot are listed below.

Editors note:  Want a non-creamy, super low cal version?  I made this as a regular chicken and wild rice soup first, and then I added all the “creamy” ingredients at the end, so what I have here is really 2 recipes for 2 delicious, but different soups.  If you want to make it a regular Chicken and rice soup, leave out the 3 ingredients indented at the bottom.  It will make 9 (1 cup) servings at 120 calories each.  Next time I make this soup, i’ll take photos of the non-creamy variety and post that recipe separately, but for now… this will do 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 whole carrots or a cup of baby carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped into appx 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 lb of chicken breast, boneless skinless
  • 1 box of rice a roni (or uncle bens, or any other brand) long grain and wild rice with seasoning packet
  • 32 ounces of chicken stock
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 Tablespoons of better than boullion, or 2 chicken boullion cubes
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 cups of 1% milk
    • 3 tablespoons of corn starch
    • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup

Directions:

Stovetop:

1. Warm a large soup pot on medium heat, and add about 1/2 cup of the stock, along with your onion, carrot, and celery.  Cook in the broth (adding more as you go if necessary) until the veggies start to get tender.

2. Once vegetables are tender, Cube your raw chicken, and add it to the mix with another cup or so of the stock.  Cook about 5 minutes before adding additonal ingredients.

3. Once chicken and veggies are cooked, add remaining broth, water, bullion, rice (and included seasoning packet) salt and pepper, and parsley, stirring all ingredients together.

4. Cook on low, stirring periodically, for 30 minutes.

If you want the creamy version, then continue on.  If not, stop here and eat your delicious soup.

5. Once everything has cooked together and you’re ready to get your creamy soup on, go ahead and pour the milk directly into the pot.

6. Place corn starch in a small bowl or cup, along with 1/4 cup of hot soup broth, and stir until mixture is smooth.

7. Add corn starch slurry back into the soup pot, scraping the sides of the container to make sure you get all the cornstarch into the pan.  Stir constantly for about 5 minutes until soup begins to thicken.

Once your soup has started to thicken some, go ahead and stir in the whole can of cream of mushroom soup.  Heat long enough to get everything hot, and serve.  You can let it continue cooking on simmer a while if you need to.  Just make sure to stir it periodically so it doesnt stick to the bottom of the pan and scorch.

Instant Pot:

1.Turn your pot on sautee, low, and add about 1/4 cup broth and your veggies.  Cook on sautee, stirring regularly, until veggies begin to get a little soft.

2. Add remaining broth, whole chicken breasts, water, rice with seasoning, salt, pepper, bullion and parsley into the pot.

3. Seal up your pot, close the steam valve and set on Manual, high for 10 minutes.

4. At the end of 12 minutes, quick release (QR) the pot and stir the contents inside.  Check to see if the rice is done, and if not, put back under Manual high for 3 more minutes, with QR.

5. Remove the chicken from the pot, and shred it with a fork, returning it back into the pot.

If you don’t want it creamy, here’s your chance.. you’re all done.  But if you do want it creamy, keep going!

6. Once everything has cooked together and you’re ready to get your creamy soup on, go ahead and pour the milk directly into the pot and turn the pot on sautee, low.

7. Place corn starch in a small bowl or cup, along with 1/4 cup of hot soup broth, and stir until mixture is smooth.

8. Add corn starch slurry back into the pot, scraping the sides of the container to make sure you get all the cornstarch into the pan.  Stir constantly for about 5 minutes until soup begins to thicken.

Once your soup has started to thicken some, go ahead and stir in the whole can of cream of mushroom soup.  Heat long enough to get everything hot, but remember to keep stirring or it will stick to the bottom of your instant pot and burn.  Enjoy 🙂

 

Makes 12 (1 cup) servings= 151 calories per serving

See below:  (photo 1:  Non creamy version, photo 2: Creamy version)


 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Carrots with Thyme

2 Feb

This is a simple side dish, but it’s low calorie and it turned out delicious when I made it last night, so I decided to share.  My one regret is that I don’t have a better picture.  By the way, this recipe was inspired by one I made using the home chef delivery service.

Ingredients:

  • 8 carrots, cleaned and peeled
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Cut carrots on the bias (diagonally) into slices 1/2 inch thick.
  3. In an oven safe skillet, warm your olive oil over medium high heat.
  4. Once oil is hot, add carrots.  Allow carrots to cook, turning them periodically for about 4-5 minutes, until the bottoms begin to char just a bit, or turn golden brown.
  5. Once carrots have a little char on them, add salt and pepper, and thyme.  Mix in seasonings.
  6. Transfer oven safe skillet to a hot oven, and bake 17 minutes at 450 degrees.
  7. When removing the hot skillet from the oven, be very careful.  Handle will be very, very hot.

5 servings= 65 calories per serving

carrots

Homemade Applesauce

17 Jan

I never have really been an applesauce girl so to speak.  However, I’m definitely a “warm apple pie filling poured over a 100 calorie cup of vanilla ice cream” kind of girl.  And I decided to make homemade apple sauce tonight, which turned out really delicious.  But before I put it in the fridge to cool for tomorrow night’s dinner, i snuck a half cup while it was still warm and it was glorious!

Again, I’ll give you both the crock pot and the instant pot versions below.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs of gala apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (if you’re using the crock pot. Not needed for instant pot)

Directions: 

For Crock Pot

  1. Mix all ingredients together in crock pot, and heat on high 3 hrs, or low 6 hrs.
  2. Once time is up, open lid and stir apples until they have broken up and sort of melded together.  Sauce will be chunky.
  3. Use an immersion blender to break up chunks until sauce reaches desired consistency.  You can dump the sauce into a food processor or blender as well, but listen. LISTEN to me.  Do not fill more than 1/2 way at a time with hot apples, or it will blow boiling hot apples all over you when you push the button.  Trust me.  This is why i use the immersion blender.
  4. You can cook the apples down a little longer if you find there’s more juice than you want.

Serve hot or cold in 1/2 cup serving sizes.

For Instant Pot:

  1. Mix all ingredients (except lemon juice) together in instant pot.
  2. Use the manual setting to cook for 5 minutes at high pressure.
  3. Once cooking is complete, use the pressure dial to release the steam (QR).
  4. Once steam is released, open lid and stir apples until they have broken up and sort of melded together.  Sauce will be chunky.
  5. Use an immersion blender to break up chunks until sauce reaches desired consistency.  You can dump the sauce into a food processor or blender as well, but listen. LISTEN to me.  Do not fill more than 1/2 way at a time with hot apples, or it will blow boiling hot apples all over you when you push the button.  Trust me.  This is why i use the immersion blender.
  6. You can cook the apples down a little longer on the saute or keep warm setting if you find there’s more juice than you want.  If you plan to serve cold, sauce will thicken in some in the fridge.

Serve hot or cold in 1/2 cup serving sizes.

Makes 8 (1/2 cup) servings= 150 Calories per serving


Editors Note: This sauce is sweet, and I love it that way. If you wanted to make this unsweetened by omitting the brown sugar, your 8 servings would come out to 124 calories each.

Editors Note: I actually left the peels on half of my apples, but the peels stayed in tact when i blended them all together, which i don’t mind at all… but you know… kids.  So  next time I’ll probably peel them all.  If you’re using the blender or food processor, i wouldn’t even bother peeling them.

Avacado Salad

3 Apr

My need to try this salad started with one of those 30 second video recipes on facebook.  I don’t know which site it was that posted it, but it sent me on a google search for something similar.  So, I won’t take credit for this recipe.  It’s one I borrowed from a blog called Natasha’s Kitchen.  The only alterations I made were using less lemon, and less oil.  This was yummy.  I’ll make it again in the summer.  Sort of like turning Guacamole into salad…how can you go wrong? 🙂

Ingredients: 

  • 2 Haas Avacados, ripe
  • 3 Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 of a red tomato diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 a large lemon
  • Fresh Ground Pepper (to taste)
  • Sea Salt (to taste)

Directions: 

  1. Chop your avacado, and tomatoes to about the same size.
  2. Slice your cucumber down the center long ways and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.  Dice the cucumber a little smaller than the tomatoes and avacado.
  3. Mix all your veggies together, stir in the Oil and Lemon Juice, as well as cilantro.
  4. Salt, Pepper, Stir, and enjoy 🙂

Makes 6 Servings= 131 calories per serving 

img_2890  

 

Steakhouse sautéed mushrooms

16 Feb

These are a simple and delicious accompaniment  to a nice steak, or a beautifully grilled porkchop. And they’re super low cal to boot!
Ingredients:

  • 1  tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small carton sliced mushrooms (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tbsp worschestire sauce

Directions:

Use a medium sized skillet with a lid. Melt the butter, and add mushrooms once butter is melted.

Sautéed mushrooms a bit in butter, adding salt and pepper.

After a minute or two, add worschestire sauce and stir into mushrooms.

Cover and allow to cook about 2-3 minutes at a time. After 2-3 minutes, stir mushrooms and replace lid until they reach desired texture.

Serve immediately while hot.

3 servings= 44 calories per serving 

2 servings = 66 calories per serving


Tomato Basil Soup

2 Feb

I have long had an aversion to canned tomato soup.  I’ve hated it since I was a kid, and for a long time I thought i didn’t like Tomato Soup at all.  Then, in college, I discovered tomato basil soup at a local restaurant, and from that point on, I was in love.  I’ve wanted to try this at home for years, but never got around to it.  I try not to eat it too often out anymore, because the calorie count can vary dramatically depending on the use of butter and heavy cream.  So, it seemed like I just needed to skinny up some tomato soup and make it at home.  Last weekend, I finally got around to it and the results are delicious.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Red onion, diced
  • 32 oz (one big box) of Vegetable Stock
  • 3 TBSP of minced garlic, or 3 cloves of fresh garlic, pressed
  • 1 (28 oz) Can of Crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup- 1 cup of half and half
  • About 10 leaves of fresh basil, cut into little pieces
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place red onions in a 4 qt pot with about 1 cup of vegetable stock.  Bring to a Simmer and simmer onions for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic to the onions and continue to simmer about 3 additional minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper into the mixture, and bring to a boil.  Once it begins to boil, reduce heat back to a simmer.
  4. Continue to simmer soup for about 15 additional minutes, stirring periodically.
  5. If you have a great immersion blender, you’ll use it at this point to puree the soup into a smooth blend.  If you do not have a great immersion blender, you can use your regular blender, but listen up here..this is important.  Do not pour the entire pot of soup into the blender at once.  If you do, the boiling soup is going to explode out of the top of the blender and all over you when you hit the button, trust me on this one.  Divide the soup into 2-3 batches, and after blending each one, return them all back to the pot. Your blender shouldn’t be more than 1/2 full with each batch.
  6. Once all your stuff is blended well and back in the pot, stir in your half and half, and your basil and salt and pepper to taste.   Continue to simmer the soup about 10-15 minutes or until it reaches the consistency you enjoy.

My batch used 3/4 cup of half and half, and i think it turned out nicely.  If you use 1 cup, add about 10 calories per serving.

 

6 (1 Cup) Servings= 105 Calories per cup

Approximately 2 weight watchers points plus per cup