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

Lemon Raspberry Pound Cake

25 Jan

So, I made this cake as a bundt cake, but judging by the texture when it was done, I’d say it’s really more of a “pound” cake. It’s rather dense, but flavorful. I hope you enjoy it. My kids really liked it.  This is a variation on a recipe i found in cooking light.

Ingredients: 

  • 12 oz fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Splenda + 1/2 cup Sugar (or 1 cup splenda baking mix)
  • 2 TBSP water, divided
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup light butter, softened (i use one that’s 50 cal/tbsp)
  • 1 1/2  tsp orange extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup of low fat buttermilk
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2-3 tsp water

Directions:

  1. 1. Combine raspberries, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until berries break down and mixture thickens slightly, stirring frequently.
  2. Place cornstarch in a small bowl; add remaining 1 tablespoon water, stirring until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; cook 1 minute or until thick. Cool completely.
  3. Once the raspberry mixture is cool, use an immersion blender to pulverize the seeds as much as possible.  You can also do this by pouring the mixture into a food processor.
  4. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
  5. Place butter, Splenda Baking mix (or 1/2 c splenda/1/2 cup sugar) into a bowl or mixer and beat until smooth and creamy.
  6. Stir in Orange extract.
  7. Add eggs to sugar mixture, 1 at a time, mixing until all eggs are incorporated.
  8. Alternate between flour mixture and buttermilk, adding each one a little at a time to sugar mixture.  Mix batter until everything is well incorporated.
  9. Spray your bundt cake with nonstick spray.
  10. Spread 1/2 of your cake mixture into the pan and spread it evenly.
  11. Pour 1/2 of your raspberry mixture over the top of your cake batter and spread evenly, reserving the other half of the raspberry mixture to top your cake.
  12. Pour remaining cake batter over the raspberry layer and smooth the batter so it’s evenly distributed.
  13. Bake on 350 for 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  14. Remove cake from oven, and cool about 10 minutes. Then remove the cake and turn it out onto a cooling rack.  Cool the cake completely.
  15. Combine powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of water, and whisk it well until all lumps are gone.  add additional water up to 3 tbsp total until glaze reaches desired consistency.
  16. Pour glaze evenly over cake and allow glaze to harden a bit (sit about 10 min)
  17. Slice cake and serve with a dollop of reserved raspberry sauce on top.


  
Makes 12 servings= 200 calories per slice

appx 5 weight watchers points plus per serving

 

 

Zucchini with Tomato Gravy

24 Jan

This was a yummy side dish that I quite enjoyed.  The sauce is lovely and quite different.  It can be used over baked or broiled chicken or pork chops as well.

Ingredients: 

  • 3 large green zucchini squash, washed and sliced
  • 1 cup of tomato juice or V8
  • 1/3 cup Chicken Broth
  • 2 TBSP light Butter (I use one that’s 50 cal/tbsp)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder

Directions: 

  1. Mix half of the tomato juice and all the corn starch in a small bowl and whisk until mixture is smooth.
  2. In a small skillet, mix tomato juice/cornstarch mixture, remaining 1/2 cup of tomato juice, chicken broth, salt, pepper and garlic powder to the pan.
  3. Bring the tomato gravy mixture to a boil.  Reduce Heat and simmer, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, until thick.
  4. Remove tomato gravy from heat and stir in 1 TBSP of light butter.
  5. In a separate skillet, melt remaining 1 TBSP of butter.
  6. Add sliced zucchini to the melted butter, stir and cook for about 5 minutes until zucchini is soft.  Add a little salt and pepper to the zucchini as it’s cooking.
  7. Once Zucchini is cooked, divide into 4 equal servings of zucchini, topped with tomato gravy.


Makes 4 servings= 76 Calories per serving

Appx 1 weight watchers points plus per serving

 

White Lasagna

17 Jan

This is a dish that can very easily be made vegetarian, by using veggie broth and omitting Chicken, so I’m listing it as “vegetarian friendly” and including the calorie count for both versions. This is a “weekend” recipe, meaning, it takes some time and love to put together. It’s not a “quick and easy” but it is yummy, and I hope you enjoy.

NOTE: I made mine ahead, put it all together and let it sit in the fridge assembled for about 1 1/2 hrs before baking. This is an easy “make ahead” meal. It’s also a good “make an extra one to freeze for later” meal. Just use an aluminum pan, and wrap the extra one tightly in saran wrap, then foil. Freeze, and when ready to cook set it out to thaw- then remove all the foil and plastic, cover back with foil, and bake as directed.

OK.  Here we go.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cooked chicken, diced or shredded (optional)
  • 8 oz reduced low fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 1 tsp italian herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 a tsp each)
  • 3 cups of baby spinach leaves, fresh
  • 9 No-boil Oven ready bake lasagna noodles (the long wavy ones)
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, rough chopped into quarters
  • 10 Cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese

Sauce:

  • 3 TBSP light butter or margarine (50 cal per tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/4 cup finely diced bell pepper (any color)
  • 2 TBSP minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp flour (i like seasoned flour. here’s the one I use)
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 of paremsan cheese from list above

Instructions: 

  1. Wash, dry, and cut all veggies as described above, and set each aside for now.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together: Ricotta, half of your paremsan cheese, egg whites, italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
  3. Stir your spinach leaves into the ricotta, mix thoroughly, and set the mixture aside for now.
  4. Next, you’re going to make your sauce.  I used a 1 qt sauce pan and a wire whisk.  First thing, melt the butter in the suace pan.
  5. Add onions and peppers, and stir constantly for about 3 minutes until onions are clear.
  6. Mix in your garlic and continue cooking and stirring about 30 seconds longer.
  7. Add flour into mixture, and stir until flour is well incorporated.
  8. Pour milk into mixture and stir until flour mixture is incorporated into milk and there are no lumps.  Add chicken broth and continue to stir and cook until mixture begins to thicken (about 3-5 min).
  9. While your sauce is cooking, fill a 9×13 pan about 1/2 way with hot water and place your lasagna noodles into the pan to sit for 5-8 min (no longer than that).
  10. Once your sauce is thickened a bit, remove from heat and stir in nutmeg a remaining parmesan cheese.

Assemble your lasagna:

  1. Using a 9×9 pan, sprayed with nonstick spray, Spoon about 1/4 cup of the sauce into the bottom of the pan and swirl it around until it covers the bottom.
  2. Trim all of your lasagna noodles to fit inside the pan.  You’ll have to cut about 3 inches off the end of each one. I used kitchen scissors.  Set noodles aside on a paper towel to dry.
  3. Layer the following items on top of the sauce:  3 noodles, side by side, slightly overlapping one another: Spread 1/2 of spinach mixture on top of noodles evenly.  Sprinkle 1/2 of your mushrooms and onions over that.  Next, spread 1/2 of chicken evenly over mixture. Top with about 1/2 cup of sauce poured evenly over top.
  4. Repeat that layer one more time, reserving about 1/4 cup of sauce for the top of the lasagna.
  5. Layer your last 3 noodles over your top layer, creating the top of the lasagna.  Spread remaining sauce over top, and then add mozzarella evenly over the top of the sauce.
  6. Bake, covered in foil for 40 min on 375 degrees.  Remove foil and bake another 12 minutes.

Let lasagna sit 5-10 min before cutting to serve (don’t skip this step or it will be watery)

Makes 6 servings= 300 calories per serving (as written)

255 calories without chicken


  

Chinese Chopped Chicken Salad

27 Oct

I’ve fallen in love with the Chinese Chicken Salad at California Pizza Kitchen, so I set out to find a recipe that would allow me to come close to this delicious dish at home, and I have to say this is pretty darn good.  It lacks the fried wontons that I love on the CPK version, but that just lends it to be even lower in calories, and to be honest, it is delicious without them, so I hardly even missed them.  I encourage you to try this one out.  I made it “Quick and Easy” By chopping all the veggies and combining in a large ziploc bag the day before.  I also went ahead and baked 2 chicken breasts and set them aside.  The day I had them for lunch, I just mixed the dressing, chopped the chicken, threw in the sesame seeds and almonds and mixed it all up with the lettuce mix.  This was yummy.

Editors Note: The dressing is a little on the sweet side, which i don’t mind.  If you like things a little less sweet, go with 2 TBSP Splenda brown sugar and subtract 15 Cal per serving.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 head of Napa Cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded (Julienne) carrots
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
  • 10 oz boneless skinless chicken breast (seasoned with salth and pepper and baked or grilled)
  • 2 TBSP Roasted Sesame Seeds
  • 1/2 cup Slivered Almonds

Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 TBSP Sesame Oil
  • 3 TBSP peanut butter
  • 4 1/2 TBSP Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 TSP Asian Chili Sauce
  • 4 1/2 TBSP Rice Vinegar
  • 3 TBSP Splenda brown sugar mix
  • 1 1/2 TSP grated ginger

Directions:

  1. Prep all your veggies. Chop your lettuce, cabbage, scallions, carrots, and cilantro, and mix together.  If you do this ahead of time, store in a big sealed ziplock bag in the fridge.
  2. Salt and pepper your chicken, and either grill or bake it ahead of time.  I don’t like hot chicken on a cold salad, so i give mine plenty of time to cool.
  3. Assemble your salad by mixing the lettuce mix with your chicken and adding sesame seeds and almonds.
  4. Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl with a wisk until you have a smooth mixture.
  5. Add Dressing to salad and mix everything together until dressing is evenly coating other ingredients.

Note: To serve as a side, omit chicken and serve as 8 servings. 155 cal per serving

Makes 4 very generous portions

1 Serving= 400 Calories

Appx 8 weight watchers points plus per serving

  
Dressing Ingredients:

Finished Dressing

Final Product:

White Chicken Chili (Crock Pot)

20 Oct

This recipe is nice and hearty, and a great winter staple in any house.  My version is a little on the spicy side (for example, my youngest won’t eat it, but my 2 older kids love it).  I suppose you could make it milder by using plain tomatoes instead of rotel, or a “mild” version of the green chiles and verde sauce. You could also reduce the Cayenne by half.  You can also mix in some reduced fat sour cream to cut the heat.  I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do.  Best part?  It’s another great crock pot recipe for those busy nights.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 3 Cans of Great Northern Beans
  • 1 Can Original Rotel
  • 1 can of green enchilada sauce (Enchlidada Verde)
  • 1 Can of reduced fat chicken broth
  • 1 small can of roasted green chiles (or regular diced green chilis if you can’t find roasted)
  • 1 Cup of Corn (frozen or canned)
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 1 TBSP water
  • 1/2 TSP cayenne pepper
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1/2 TSP Pepper
  • 1 TSP Salt

Directions:

  1. Drain the liquid from your Rotel, and Corn if you’re using canned. Also drain 2 of the 3 cans of beans.
  2. Place Chicken in the crock pot, and pour contents of all the cans on top of it.
  3. Place Chopped onion and 1 TBSP water in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.  Then dump it into the crockpot.
  4. Add Cumin, Salt, Pepper, and Cayenne Pepper into the Crock Pot.
  5. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  6. Remove Chicken, shred it with a fork, and return it to the pot.
  7. Stir the soup, and enjoy.  Serve with low fat sour cream and shredded cheese. (not calculated in this calorie count)

Makes 10 (1 Cup) Servings= 188 Calories per serving

Appx 4 Weight Watchers Points Plus per cup

Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots

17 Oct

I’ve never been a big fan of cooked carrots, unless they were in a roast.  My mother used to make glazed carrots occassionally when I was a kid, and I remember having like them because of the sweetness, so I thought I’d give them a shot.  I’m trying to broaden my repertoire of side items, and this one seems to be a good fit.  I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb bag of baby carrots
  • 3 TBSP of Splenda Brown Sugar mix
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • 2 TBSP of light butter or margarine (50 cal per tbsp)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Place carrots into a large saucepan, with enough water to cover them about halfway. Bring pot to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer carrots, covered, for about 10-12 minutes. (You could also steam them if you prefer)
  2. Remove carrots from pan and set aside. Melt butter in the saucepan; stir brown sugar, honey, salt, and cinnamon into butter until brown sugar is melted.
  3. Stir Carrots into sauce and allow everything to cook together about 5 minutes, stirring throughout.  

Makes 5 servings= 90 Calories per serving

Appx 1 weight watchers point plus per serving

  
 

Pork Guinness Stew

13 Oct

This is a hearty Irish stew made easily in the crock pot. It turned out very filling and delicious, and the calorie count was much lower than I expected. I call this guiness stew because you use a dark beer (like guinness) in the stew. It doesn’t have to be guiness. Any dark beer will do.  In fact, the one I used wasn’t actually guinness. One thing I love about crock pot recipes is how easy they are the day of.  For this one, I cut the meat, salt and peppered it and stored it in the crock pot insert in the fridge overnight.  I cut the onion/carrot/celery and stored them together in a ziplock bag in the fridge, and measured out all my spices and set them aside.  So on the morning that I put this together I just peeled and chopped a potato, and put everything in the crock pot.  This made life easy on one of those busy days, and the house smelled fantastic when I got home from work 🙂  One thing… don’t cut the potato the night before… it could oxidize in the fridge which is bad news.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 lb lean pork loin
  • 1 large russet potato
  • 25 baby carrots
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped into 1 in slices
  • 1 can low fat chicken broth
  • 8 oz of dark beer
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp caraway seed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp corn starch

Directions:

1. Cut your pork loin into cubes, about 1 inch x 1 inch, and place pork in the bottom of crock pot. Salt and pepper the pork to taste.

Note:  I find cutting the pork is easier if you freeze the meat about halfway first. If the meat is already frozen, thaw it halfway before attempting to cut (I just set a frozen pork loin in the fridge Sunday night, and I prepped this Monday evening to cook Tues morning).

2. Peel potato and chop into about 1×1 inch pieces as well. Spread evenly over meat. It’s important that potatoes are directly on top of meat so they will be covered with liquid while cooking. If they are not covered they will not cook through and they may oxidize and turn black (you don’t want that)

3.  Place carrots, onion and celery on top of potatoes.

4.  Mix broth, beer, vinegar, bay leaf, garlic powder, and caraway seeds together and pour over the items in the pot.

5. Cook on low for 10 hours. Don’t open the lid. Seriously. Don’t open it until it’s done.

6. After cooking 10 hours, mix contents with a spoon and remove 1/2 cup of broth. In a small bowl mix 1/2 cup broth with corn starch until a smooth cream is formed.

7. Pour cornstarch mixture into crock pot and stir to mix well with the stew. Turn crock pot up to high and leave uncovered for 10 min, stirring periodically. This will thicken your sauce.

Serve with rice, bread, noodles, or as is. Makes 9 1/2 cups of stew.

1 cup= 182 calories

Appx 4 weight watchers points per cup

Lower Calorie Deviled Eggs

6 Oct

So, there’s not much you can do to a deviled egg to make it lower in calories.  And actually, when you look at other side items, even a full fat deviled egg or 2 is not a bad decision when faced with choices at a cookout or party.  The one thing you can do to lighten up a deviled egg, is switch regular mayo for a fat free version of either mayo, or miracle whip. The difference in calories is less than 2 calories per serving if you use Kraft brand ff mayo instead of miracle whip.  I used miracle whip because I had it on hand (i use it for tuna and sandwiches) however, I actually prefer the Fat Free Mayo for deviled eggs (I like a more savory egg).  This recipe gives you just the right amount of each ingredient to make yummy deviled eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 6 hard boiled eggs, cooled
  • 2 TBSP fat free mayo or fat free miracle whip
  • 1 1/2 TBSP sweet pickle relish
  • 1 TSP yellow mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Paprika for garnish

Directions:

  1. Cut eggs in half, longways.  This leaves you with 12 half eggs.
  2. Scoop the cooked yolks out of the middle of each egg, and place them all together in a small bowl.
  3. Use the back of a spoon to smoosh all the egg yolks.  Keep smooshing until they are well mashed and not too lumpy.
  4. Add all ingredients except your egg whites and paprika, and stir ingredients together until you have a smooth yellow filling for your eggs.
  5. Basicall all you do at this point is fill the holes in the whites with yolk mixture.  You can just spoon it in, or you can cut the tip out of a ziplock back and fill the back with yolk to “pipe” the yolk mixture into the egg.  You could even place a star shaped piping tip in the bag if you are super fancy.  I usually just spoon them in if I’m making a small batch, and I’ll do the “hole in a bag” piping for larger batches. It just seems to be neater and easier.  I rarely use a piping tip, but if you’re doing this for some fancy occassion, go for it!
  6. Sprinkle the tops of your finished eggs with paprika.

Makes 6 servings (2 egg halves each)= 82 Calories

Appx 2 weight watchers points per 2 egg halves

 

Weekly Menu # 2

28 Sep

This is the 2nd of what I hope to be a series of weekly menus and shopping lists.  Each week I will include at least 1 or 2 “quick and easy” recipes in my menu that I can throw in the crockpot or on the stove quickly for hectic nights. This shopping list was designed to meet the following needs:

  • 6 nights of Kid friendly recipes
  • 2+ nights of quick and easy meals
  • Ingredients that can be used in more than 1 dish
  • Budget and calorie friendly (600 calories or less per dinner)

 

The Menu:

Bean Soup and corn bread (quick and easy) (1 ½ cups of soup and 1 jiffy cornbread muffin= 418 calories)

Oven Baked Chicken Tenders with Hungry Girl Onion rings (393 calories)

Penne Chicken Florentine and Stuffed Mushrooms (524 calories with 3 mushrooms)

Parmesan Tilapia with broccoli and Rice* (quick and easy) (340 Calories)

Unstuffed Peppers and simple salad (418 calories)

Roasted Red Pepper and Swiss stuffed chicken breast* with roasted potatoes and turnip greens (560 calories)

 

*I’m putting chicken bouillon cubes on your grocery list. When you cook your rice to go with your Tilapia, throw that in there. The extra calories are negligible but it enhances the flavor a ton. For the Broccoli, you’re just going to steam it and add a little spray butter and salt. I don’t have a recipe for steamed broccoli. Calories include 1 cup steamed broccoli, and 160 calories worth of Rice.

*For the Roasted Red Pepper and Swiss Stuffed chicken, You’re going to use the laughing cow garlic and herb instead of regular swiss that’s in the recipe. I’m doing this because the stuffed mushrooms also call for laughing cow, and this way you won’t have to buy 2 different types of laughing cow (it’s too expensive for all that, and combining these 2 recipes uses up a full container).

 

The List:

Produce:

Onion 3 (at least one large onion)

Onion- Red- 1

Celery

Carrots

1 lemon (or lemon juice)

12 large mushrooms

Broccoli

1 cucumber

1 tomato

2 bunches of turnip greens

 

Meat:

1 country ham hock

6 oz of country ham pieces for seasoning (chunks, not slices. an 8 oz ham hock could also work)

1 lb of chicken tenderloins (or breast meat, sliced into tenders)

12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast

4 (5 oz) chicken breasts, boneless, skinless

Tilapia filets (fresh or frozen, 3-4 oz each)

1 lb lean ground beef

 

Center Aisles:

Olive Oil

Chicken stock (26 oz)

Chicken broth (1 can)

Minced garlic (sometimes found in produce)

Dry navy beans or great northern beans (1 lb)

Jiffy Cornbread mix – 1 box

All purpose flour, or seasoned flour if available

Panko bread crumbs

Fiber One Cereal

Ronzoni smart taste penne (1 box)

Brown Instant Rice

Diced tomatoes (1 can)

Tomato sauce (15 oz)

Worcestershire sauce

Chicken bullion cubes

Balsamic vinegar

Roasted Red Peppers

Fat free mayo

 

Cold:

Eggs

Milk

Low fat ricotta cheese (8 oz)

Grated parmesan cheese

Powdery parmesan cheese (optional)

Laughing cow cheese wedges- garlic and herb

Shredded cheddar

 

Frozen:

Frozen spinach

Mixed peppers

 

Seasonings/Spices:

Bay leaves

Salt

Pepper

Thyme

Rosemary

Onion powder

Garlic powder

Nutmeg

Oregano

Crushed red pepper

Italian herbs