Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tomato Basil Soup

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Very simple to make, tasty and low calorie.  You will want to keep the ingredients for this on hand so you can make it at a moments notice!  The bread pictured with it is just a french bread loaf sliced in half and baked for a few minutes with mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top.  Delicious!

Tomato Basil Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup dried basil (or 3/4 cup chopped fresh)
1 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup 1/3-less fat cream cheese, cubed
2 cups skim milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat olive oil in saucepan and saute onion about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another minute.  Add basil and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Simmer about 30 minutes.  Stir in cheese until melted.  Transfer mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.  Return to pan and stir in milk, salt and pepper and heat up for a few more minutes.

Makes about 6 servings with the following per serving: calories - 135, fat - 6.4g, cholesterol - 15mg, total carbs - 12.5g, dietary fiber - 1.3g, sugars - 8.8g, protein - 5.4g.

Classic Lasagna

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I would think most people have a favorite recipe for lasagna.  It's a basic comfort food that, even though it's sometimes time-consuming to make, it gives you a large serving of food for when you have company  and allows you time while it's baking to clean up the kitchen and get ready for supper.  Get yourself a loaf of french bread from your local deli - slice in half and spread some butter on the top and sprinkle with garlic salt - you can even sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese on it.  Bake it about 5 minutes at 350 and it's a great addition to your lasagna. 

Classic Lasagna

8 ounces (about 6 noodles) lasagna noodles
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 14-ounce can tomato sauce
1 6-ounce can tomato paste (I like to use the one that has the basil, garlic & oregano)
2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 4-ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained
2 eggs
1 pound cottage cheese (I use the 1% low-fat)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large pot boil lasagna noodles. 

While noodles are boiling in a large skillet brown hamburger with onion and garlic until browned, then drain grease.  Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil and marjoram.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer about 20 minutes, stirring often.  Add mushrooms then set aside.

As hamburger mixture is simmering, in a medium sized bowl beat eggs then add cottage cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Grease a 9x13 pan - you can also line it with foil so cleanup is easier - and place half the noodles in the bottom of the pan.  Spread with half cottage cheese mixture, then half the meat mixture then have the mozzarella and cheddar cheese.  Repeat layers and sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese over top. 

Bake uncovered at 375 for 45 minutes to 1 hour until bubbly and cheeses are golden.  Let sit about 10 minutes before cutting.

*You can also make the lasagna in advance and cover it with foil and keep in the refrigerator for 2 days or you can also freeze it.  Then just bake uncovered in preheated 375 degree oven for about 60 minutes.

Black & White Butter Bars

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These bars are fantastically rich with a baked on 'frosting'.  Just a small piece is quite enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.  Would be great with a small scoop of ice cream or a hot cup of coffee.  The picture isn't very good - the bars went so quickly and I had forgotten to take a photo when we first cut into them - so this was the very last piece in the pan.  You could make a double batch of the chocolate bottom to have a taller cake bottom - but I wouldn't double the top.  They are very moist and a bit gooey.  Oh so very delicious.

Black & White Butter Bars

Chocolate Base -

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
'Frosting' topping -
1 8-ounce brick cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar until well mixed.  Add melted butter, both eggs and vanilla and mix until a stiff dough forms.  Pour dough into pan and press it down so the bottom of the pan is covered evenly.  Set aside.

In another bowl cream together butter and cream cheese with a mixer until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.  Add vanilla, powdered sugar and melted white chocolate and mix well.  Pour over topping over chocolate base and spread evenly.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until top is softly golden brown.  It will look a little wiggly still, but it will set as it cools.  Cool at room temp for an hour then put in refrigerator to cool the rest of the way.  Before serving set it out so it has time to come to room temperature.  You can dust each individual piece with powdered sugar if you like.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Chicken Stir Fry

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This recipe gets rave reviews at our house.  The kids tend to pick out the veggies they don't want to eat - which ends up being fine because it's mostly veggies anyways.  The last time I made it Vayle said after each bite, 'Mom, this is really good!  Thanks for making it!'  Get yourself a wok - that's what I use for my stir fry.  It cooks it more evenly - otherwise you're going to just have to use a large pan because a saucepan probably won't hold all the vegetables.  The best thing about stir fry is you can create whatever veggie combination you want!  Try different things!  It will turn out great no matter what!  I'm just going to post what veggies I put into this particular dish - but you can mix and match as you like.  It's a fairly low calorie dish too.  You can also use beef - just substitute a good cut of steak for the chicken and beef base for the chicken base.  Have this for your next healthy family dinner!!

Chicken Stir Fry

1 pound chicken (about 3-4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups hot water
2 teaspoons chicken base (or bouillon)
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounce package sugar snap peas
1/2 a 12-ounce package broccoli florets
1/2 a 12-ounce package petite baby carrots
1/2 a 8 ounce package of fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 a yellow pepper, sliced
1/2 an orange pepper, sliced
hot cooked rice

Cut up the chicken into bite size pieces and put into a bowl with ginger, 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce and minced garlic.  Stir and let marinate on your counter for about an hour before you start cooking.  This will give you time to chop up any veggies you may have.  In another small bowl combine hot water and chicken base and stir until base is dissolved.  Add 2/3 cup soy sauce and cornstarch and mix well.  You will have to mix this again before you pour into the wok since the cornstarch will settle.
I use my electric wok on medium to just a little below medium heat.  Anything higher tends to cook too quickly.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in wok and add chicken pieces.  Stir fry until chicken is cooked.  You will probably need to flip the pieces once.  Remove the chicken after it's cooked.  I usually dump and wipe out my wok after this to get rid of any extra juices from the chicken.  Heat the last tablespoon (might need 2) in the wok and put in all the vegetables.  Keep the lid on while cooking and stir occasionaly until vegeties are tender crisp.  Takes roughly 10 minutes - maybe less.  Stir in the soy sauce mixture and add the chicken back into skillet.  Bring the soy sauce mixture to a boil and let cook for another 2-3 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Serve over hot cooked rice.