Ever Evolving Food Blog

Hello Everyone! I have had this blog for years now, and as my personal life has changed, so have my tastes and eating habits...for the better!! I am now a fully plant-based eater, so my newer recipes will reflect this lifestyle and way of eating.

All of my old recipes will remain on my food blog, of course, so there will be a mixture of the old and the new for everyone to look through and choose. You can always play around with any recipe out there and make it your own, whether it's plant-based or not. There are always other options!
Thanks SO much for following! Happy Eating!

What's Cooking With Melissa

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mashed Red Potatoes

I loved mashed potatoes, and these are just another version of this yummy side dish. There is a secret ingredient that makes these even better. Trust me!

a 2-pound bag of red potatoes (leave skins on)
6 Tbs margarine (I use Promise)
pinch of Kosher salt
4 Tbs light sour cream
1 Tbs light ranch dressing
1/2 cup 2% milk
table salt

Boil potatoes with 2 Tbs margarine and salt for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and let sit for ~20 minutes. Put potatoes in a large mixing bowl with 4 Tbs margarine, sour cream, milk, dressing, and table salt to taste. Mix until well blended. If you like your potatoes a little more runny, just add more milk (or sour cream).

This kind of mashed potato WILL have chunks in it, so if you like your mashed potatoes smooth and creamy, these aren't the ones for you. =)

The little bit of ranch dressing gives these potatoes the tiniest little kick they need to be super yummy! They are a bit thicker than regular mashed potatoes and more filling, so you probably don't want to make these ALL the time, but they are great for something just a little different every now and then!

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Chicken Cordon Bleu

This simple way to make chicken cordon bleu only takes about 15 minutes prep time with 30 minutes baking time. I always used to wonder how chefs got the ham and cheese inside the chicken. After I realized how easy it was, I had to laugh. If you can make a burrito, you can make this dish. It's really not fancy at all once you know how to make it, but it sure is good!

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or however many your family will need)
8 pieces of reduced fat, sliced Swiss cheese
(or 2 per chicken breast)
~1 cup reduced fat, shredded mozzarella cheese
4 pieces of 96% fat free, sliced ham
(~1/4 inch thick)
1 packet of Italian-style Shake-n-Bake
(or Progresso Italian bread crumbs)
~1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pound and flatten chicken breasts between two pieces of wax paper on a hard surface with a kitchen mallet. (You can get these at your local supermarket for under $3 OR just use the heel of your hand...but it starts to hurt and takes longer if you do this.) Once all the chicken breasts are thinned out evenly to ~1/4 - 1/2 inch in thickness, lay one piece of Swiss cheese at one end of each piece. Lay a piece of ham on top of the cheese and then place another piece of cheese on top of the ham. Sprinkle on ~1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella. Now carefully, from the loaded end, roll up the chicken like a burrito so that the seam is tucked under at the bottom.

Transfer each chicken piece carefully to a foil-covered baking pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. If any shredded cheese falls out the sides, just gently push it back in. Brush each chicken piece with olive oil, making sure to coat all sides. Sprinkle and pat on the Shake-n-Bake, covering the tops and sides of each chicken piece.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Now that you know how easy it is to make chicken cordon bleu, you won't want to pay so much for it at those fancy restaurants anymore! Now you can make it at home in no time and for a fraction of the price, the fat, and calories! 

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Playful Pancakes

Kids won't eat? Need a project for them to do? Maybe the grandkids are coming over or your little one is having a party. Instead of decorating cookies, try using pancakes instead! My little boy will normally only eat one pancake, but he'll eat about 5 or 6 of these!

PLUS...They are low in calories & fat and high in fiber, so they're pretty healthy as far as carbs go. And if you're on Weight Watchers, Fiber One pancakes are only 1 point per pancake!

Pancake mix (I use Fiber One Complete)
Cookie cutters
Sugar Free syrup
(I use Log Cabin)
(I use Promise)

Okay, so this is more of an idea (and not an original one, at that) than a recipe, but my youngest son and I were bored one afternoon, and he was hungry, so we decided to make these playful pancakes. He got to help mix the batter, pick out which cookie cutters he wanted, and cut them out! This is a perfect project for an afternoon at home!

Mix pancake mix according to directions on the box (YES, I have a homemade pancake recipe, but let's get real here.... why reinvent the wheel when box ones are just as good and SO much faster and easier to make.). Use 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake.

Cut out shapes using cookie cutters and serve! My son has his syrup on the side instead of poured over his pancakes. This way, he gets to dip his pancakes and I get to be in control of how much syrup he uses.

Just think of the possibilities with using cookie cutters with pancakes. You could have birthday pancakes, Halloween pancakes, Christmas pancakes, beach pancakes, and on and on and on! They're fun, your kids will eat them, and they are much healthier for them, too!

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Turkey Meatball Sandwich with Sauteed Peppers & Onions and Melted Provolone Cheese

I had never made a meatball in my life until I made these sandwiches. I don't know why, but for some reason I was afraid to make them. I have a feeling that I will be making meatballs for a very long time now that I know how to make them! Yum!

1 pound ground turkey meat
1 Tbs dried basil
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp. minced onion flakes
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp coarse Kosher salt
1/2 red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
1/2 yellow bell pepper (thinly sliced)
1/4 yellow onion (sliced or chopped)
4 slices of provolone cheese
1 sliced green onion
Soft Cuban bread

Cut bread into two pieces (~8 inches long each), cut each piece down the center, but don't cut all the way through. Hollow out the center to make room for the meatballs. Put back into the bag it came in so it doesn't dry out and save for later.

In a large bowl combine turkey and the next 8 ingredients. Mix with your hands until well-blended. Form 1 inch meatballs. One pound of ground meat will make ~16 meatballs. In a saucepan, heat olive oil (about enough to cover the bottom of the pan) and sautee half the meatballs until brown and cooked through, turning often and lowering heat if browning too quickly. This will take ~10 minutes. Place sauteed meatballs on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Cover with foil and put in oven at 200 to keep them warm while you sautee the other half of the meatballs. As long as they are covered, they won't dry out.

While the meatballs are keeping warm, sautee the bell peppers and onion in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes or until tender. If there is any excess oil on the veggies after they've been sauteed, you can always drain them in a small bowl with a paper towel in it.

Once the veggies and meatballs have been sauteed, get out your bread, put 2 slices of cheese in each sandwich loaf, place the meatballs on top of the cheese, then top with sauteed veggies and fresh sliced green onion. (You may want to add a little light mayonnaise on the bread before you add the cheese to give it a little more moisture, but it's not necessary.)

What a GREAT sandwich! And to be honest, I could just eat the meatballs on their own!! SO YUMMY!!! These meatballs could be made to go on a party tray, too! 

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

I love to make my own chicken noodle soup. It only takes about 15 minutes to make, and it not only tastes SO much better than the stuff out of the can, but it's also MUCH more filling. It's really easy to make, too!

1 (32 oz.) container chicken broth (I use Swanson fat-free, 33% less sodium)
1 large carrot (cut into disks)
1/2 the meat from a rotisserie chicken, shredded
~1/3 of an 8 oz. bag of noodles (I use No Yolks cholesterol free egg white pasta)
ground black pepper

In a 2 quart pot, heat broth and carrots over med-high heat until boiling. Add shredded chicken, noodles, and generous amounts of pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes or until noodles are tender. Stir often. That's it! You're done!

I like my soups pretty chunky and more like stews, so I put in a lot of noodles. Just add less noodles if you want yours to be more 'brothy'. You may also want to add in other veggies, like celery.
The sandwich in the background that I served my soup with was a grilled provolone & roast beef on rye.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Baked Lemon-Pepper Tilapia on a bed of Long Grain & Wild Rice

I never liked fish until I started making it myself at home. If you're not a huge fish fan, you may want to try tilapia and put some seasoning on it, like I do. It's not got a strong fishy taste, and you can add whichever type of seasoning you like.

5-6 tilapia fillets, thawed (again...I just use my local supermarket's brand because there IS no expensive part of the ocean)
2-3 Tbs. margarine (I use Promise), melted
Lemon-Pepper seasoning (or whichever seasoning you prefer)

Heat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place thawed fillets on the baking sheet and brush or drizzle with melted margarine. Sprinkle or coat each fillet with seasoning to your liking. Bake fish for 25-30 minutes or until the edges start to go a little crispy and golden. Keep an eye on your fish. You don't want to under-cook it because it's going to be runny, and you don't want to over-cook fish because it will be too dry.

The rice I served the fish on was Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice. It takes about the same amount of time to cook on the stove as your fish will if you start them at the same time. Perfect!

The beauty of baking fish like this is that you can have your family put in their orders for which kinds of seasonings they prefer. My husband likes garlic salt on his instead of lemon-pepper. You could also try something bolder like Jamaican or Fajita seasonings.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cherry Turnovers

I am a much better cook than I am a baker, so when I saw this recipe, it scared me a little. Well, guess what? These turnovers are so quick and easy to make, that I can't wait to make them again as soon as someone will volunteer to gobble them up!

1 (17.3 oz.) package frozen puff pastry, thawed (I used Pepperidge Farms)
1 (20 oz.) can light cherry pie filling
2 large egg whites, beaten
turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 400. Roll one pastry sheet onto a flat, floured surface. Cut into 4 squares for larger turnovers or six squares for smaller turnovers. Brush egg whites around the edges of the squares, spoon on pie filling in the middle, and fold the squares over to make triangles. Press the edges down with your fingers to seal the pastry.
*You don't need to put too much filling in the middle of the squares because it will run out everywhere when you fold and seal them.

Place triangles on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick baking spray and bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

These were SO quick and easy to make! They are so cute, and you can put any filling you want inside them. If you need something to take into work or to a party, these are perfect if you want to take in something homemade!

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pulled Barbeque Quesadillas with Mild Cheddar & Red Onion

My family loves quesadillas, but I was getting tired of the same old thing all the time. I thought of using pulled barbecue, and then I found this recipe from The Food Network! These are so fast and easy to make, but you DO need to have a quesadilla maker. They are so handy to have in the kitchen. They run between $24-28, but they are a good investment!

Tortillas (I use low-carb, high-fiber flour tortillas)
Shredded 2% mild cheddar cheese
Sliced red onion
Pulled barbecue (I used Cades Cove brand, which I found in the refrigerated meat section)

Heat barbecue according to directions on the container (unless you've made your own barbecue in a crock pot). Spread barbecue in a thin layer over a tortilla, leaving about an inch around the edge. Sprinkle well with cheese, top with onion, then put a 'lid' tortilla on top.
Put in the quesadilla maker for 5-10 minutes until it is golden brown and hardened. Remove from quesadilla maker, let cool a little, then cut with a pizza cutter.

With this type of quesadilla, you could serve it with corn or other type of veggie or black bean salsa, but these are SO filling that they can just be served on their own. They look thin, but there is a lot of meat and cheese in each one! I usually split one with someone else and only end up eating 3 pieces.

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I LOVE a good Reuben sandwich, but sometimes restaurants put on too much sauerkraut for my liking. I decided a long time ago to try and make my own version and found out how super easy it is to make these sandwiches! If you can make a grilled cheese sandwich, you can make your very own Reuben!

Jewish Rye seeded bread (I use Pepperidge Farms)
Swiss Cheese
(from 2% milk)
Light Thousand Island Dressing
(I use Kraft)
Corned beef slices
(either from your deli or from the refrigerated meat section)

Put a layer of Thousand Island dressing on both pieces of bread. Put on one slice of cheese, then layers of corned beef, then sauerkraut, and one more piece of cheese. Grill your sandwich on both sides over medium high heat in a small saucepan with margarine (I use Promise). It only takes about a minute on each side.

What I like so much about making Reuben sandwiches at home is that I can put on however much or little of these strong ingredients I want, making it my own. Plus, you can opt for light or reduced-fat cheese and dressing, making it a bit lighter if you choose!

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pan Sauteed Chicken with Vegetables and Herbs

This is a Swanson's recipe that I have seen in several different magazines. It's easy, fairly cheap, and SO good! If you have someone coming over for dinner, this is a great dish to put together, and everything is right there in your roasting pan, ready to serve!

1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 heaping Tbs. all-purpose flour
3-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

extra virgin olive oil
2 small red onions, quartered
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed with skin on
4 large carrots, peeled & cut
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. oregano
1 Tbs. fresh thyme

Combine pepper, paprika, and flour in a shallow bowl. Coat chicken with flour mixture.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until it is well browned on all sides (it doesn't have to be cooked ALL the way through because you'll be baking it in the oven later to finish it off). Remove chicken from skillet and arrange in a roasting pan. (I sprayed my pan with nonstick cooking spray.)
Add onions and potatoes to the same skillet with the juices and oil still there from the chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, stock, lemon juice, and oregano. Heat to a boil, then add it all carefully around the chicken in the roasting pan. Make sure the juices get evenly distributed. Sprinkle fresh thyme on top.
Cover roasting pan with foil and bake chicken and veggies at 350 for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for 20-30 more minutes until your potatoes & carrots are tender.

I like this dish a lot because everything you need for your meal is right there in the roasting pan. No need for extras or sides unless you just want them! Yum!

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Cream Sauce

I normally make traditional enchiladas with canned enchilada sauce, but I saw this recipe in a magazine and thought they looked wonderful. I had never used tomatillos until I used them to make the sauce for this recipe. I have to say, they are not the most attractive things I've ever seen, but they sure did make a FABULOUS

3 cups roasted, pulled chicken (I just used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
1 pkg. 90 sec. Spanish rice (I use Uncle Ben's)
1/2 can black beans, drained & rinsed (I use Bush's seasoned recipe black beans)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz.) container light sour cream
1 (8 oz.) pkg. reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
12 (8-inch) low-carb, high fiber tortillas

Tomatillo Cream Sauce
1 (28 oz.) can tomatillos, drained
1 (14.5 oz.) low-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream

Spray 2 small or 1 large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix together chicken, rice, beans, cream cheese, sour cream, shredded cheese, garlic salt, salt, and pepper. Mix will be thick, so make sure you get all the cream cheese mixed in there really well (it likes to hide in clumps within the other ingredients). You can just keep this mixture in the fridge until you're ready to roll the tortillas. To roll them, lay the tortillas flat, scoop about 3 large tablespoons of mixture onto one end. Carefully roll them up, fold ends in, and lay them side-by-side in your dish until it's fill end-to-end.
Pour tomatillo cream sauce (see directions below) generously over the tops of all the enchiladas. Top with a layer of shredded cheese, and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

How to make Tomatillo Cream Sauce
In a large skillet, combine tomatillos, broth, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. (I broke apart the tomatillos into smaller pieces for this part.) Remove from heat. Pour into a blender once it's cooled down a little and pulse mixture several times until it's smooth. Pour back into skillet, add whipping cream, and cook on low heat for ~2 minutes, stirring gently and continually.

I topped my enchiladas with sour cream and sliced green onions. This freshly made sauce topped the canned enchilada sauce I usually use! I'm so glad I wasn't afraid to use the tomatillos!

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rustic Summer Veggie Tart

This was a great meal! I made two of these tarts, and three of us shared them between us. I really like this recipe because you can put in whatever you want! Next time, we are going to leave out the squash and zucchini and put in mushrooms and chicken in their place for a change.

2 refrigerated thin crust pizza crust (I use Pillsbury)
3 carrots (peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds)
4 parsnips (peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
3 large Yukon potatoes (peels and cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 medium yellow onion (peeled and cut to your liking)
2 yellow squash (cut into 1/4 inch rounds)
2 zuchinni (cut into 1/4 inch rounds)
~1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (or blue cheese)
Roasted red bell pepper from a jar (you'll just need a couple of pieces)
extra virgin olive oil
1 large egg (beaten)
ground pepper
1 Tbs fresh thyme

In a saucepan, sautee squash and zucchini in ~1/4 cup of olive oil for around 7 minutes. Set aside and let cool. Once cool, put ALL cut veggies, ~ 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp ground pepper into a gallon-sized ziplock back and gently toss and turn until all the veggies are well coated. (Make sure you hold the top of the bag tightly. I've had them break open on me before and all my yummy veggies fell to the floor.)

Lay out one of the pizza dough crusts on a flat surface. Using a 10 inch bowl or lid (I used a Tupperware lid), trace a circle with a sharp knife. Pull up the extra dough and put to the side for another project or discard. Put your round dough piece on one end of a foil covered baking sheet that has been sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. Do the same with the other pizza dough crust. Lay them both so that they fit on the baking sheet side-by-side, and you can bake two tarts at once.

Now sprinkle each pizza dough crust with cheese, leaving about a 2 inch edge. Carefully put ~3 handfuls of your veggies in the middle of each crust. Sprinkle the tops with more cheese (not too much because this kind of cheese is pretty strong). Now cut up two of the larger pieces of one of the roasted pepper slices and place them on top of the pies.

Fold the edges of the pies up so they hug the edges and hold in all the fillings. Brush the pie crust with the beaten egg, sprinkle on fresh thyme over the pies (~1 Tbs each over both the filling and the crusts), and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

You can make these tarts your own! Put whatever kinds of filling you want in them. They can even be used for desserts, as well, by putting something like a peach cobbler filling inside! Oooh....maybe I'll try that!

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Healthy Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

YES, this cheesecake really does taste just like the full-fat version! I was so surprised when I tasted it. VERY yummy! I'll be honest, I like a traditional graham cracker crust better than this Melba toast version, but I'll stick with the original recipe, since that's how I made it. Doing it over, I would use a graham cracker base, though.

15 plain Melba toasts (not Melba 'snacks')
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs sugar

14 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups low-fat or non-fat plain Greek yogurt (I use FAGE)
7 large egg whites
1 tsp cinnamon

To prepare crust:
Boil a kettle of water for water bath (~7-8 cups). Coat a 10-inch spring-form pan with no-stick cooking spray. Tightly wrap the bottom and outside of the pan with a double layer of foil. Preheat oven to 325.

Crush the Melba toasts to crumbs and put in a bowl. Add oil and sugar. Mix until evenly moist. Press crumb base into the bottom of the pan and bake until lightly browned (~10 minutes). Let cool for ~30 minutes.

To prepare cheesecake:
Beat cream cheese and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl with mixer until smooth. Add yogurt, egg whites, and cinnamon and beat until well-blended. Pour over crust.

Place the cheesecake in a roasting pan and pour enough boiling water to come 1 inch up the side of the spring-form pan. Bake cheesecake in the center of the oven until it's set around the edges but the center still jiggles (~45 minutes). Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake sit in the oven with the door ajar for 1 hour. Let it cool on a wire rack for another hour (I KNOW....torture, right?).

I topped my cheesecake with cherry filling and fresh blueberries, but I normally like it just as it is. You know how you like your cheesecake, so make it your own and enjoy! 

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Chicken Casserole

This is an old favorite in my house. Out of all the fancy dishes I try and make, this easy casserole is of my most requested meals. It just goes to show that no matter how expensive or technical a dish is, sometimes it just can't beat the good old fashion comfort foods!

1 rotisserie chicken (with meat removed and shredded)
1 yellow onion (diced)
1Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbs. margarine
(I use Promise)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 small jar of sliced mushrooms (drained)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 Tbs. Italian seasoning
(I use McCormick's)
Herb-seasoned stuffing
(I use Pepperidge


Low-fat shredded mild cheddar cheese

Heat margarine in a medium skillet and sautee onions, garlic, and sugar. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, mix the onions, chicken, soup, sour cream, mayonnaise, mushrooms, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning with a spoon until well-blended. Fold into a 8x8x2 casserole dish and even out with a spoon. Top with a layer of shredded cheese. Add a thin layer of dry stuffing. Then sprinkle another coating of shredded cheese on top (but not too much because it will end up burning). Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.

I served my chicken casserole with fresh corn on the cob with tomato-basil-garlic butter and steamed broccoli sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

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Peanut Butter Cookies (an oldie but a goody)

I think these have to be one of the easiest cookies in the world to make. You only need 4 ingredients, and you don't even need a mixer! Kids like to help with these cookies because they can make the famous criss-cross marks on the tops.

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients with a spoon in a medium-sized bowl until well blended. Roll teaspoon-sized balls from the mixture and place them on a baking sheet sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. Make criss-cross marks across the tops of the cookies with a fork. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. 
IMPORTANT: let cool 15 minutes before you take them off the baking sheet or else they will fall apart!
Makes 20-24 cookies (depending on how big or small you like them).

Enjoy with a nice cold glass of milk!

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Maryland Crab Cakes

There are several different recipes that I've tried for crab cakes. This one is simple and lower in fat. If you can make a hamburger, you can make a crab cake!

1 lb. cooked crab meat, picked through for shells & cartilage (I just use my grocery store brand. It's cheaper and tastes just the same. As someone once told me, there IS no expensive part of the ocean!)
3/4 cup herbed seasoned stuffing (I use Pepperidge Farm's brand)
6 scallions, minced
1/4 cup low-fat milk (1 or 2%)
3 Tbs reduced-calorie mayonnaise
1 large egg
2 Tbs. minced parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
reduced-calorie margarine (Iuse Promise) for frying

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except flour and butter (as you would when making meatloaf), and gently mix together until well blended. Moisten hands to avoid sticking as you form your crab cakes. This recipe should make around 8 cakes. Place them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place flour on wax paper and lightly coat each crab cake on both sides with flour. Melt margarine in a large skillet, and cook each crab cake until golden brown and crispy. It takes around 5 minutes for each side. I like to cook 2-3 cakes together in the skillet.

I served my crab cakes with freshly squeezed lemon, fresh corn on the cob from a local vendor, and a salad of mixed greens with tomato-basil feta and honey dijon dressing.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Beef Pot Pie with Roasted Root Vegetables

I got the idea to use refrigerated crescent rolls for the crust for my pot pies from a Weight Watchers recipe. They add a slight sweetness to the pie, which my family loves!

4 carrots (peeled & cut)
8 parsnips (peeled & cut)
1 yellow onion (cut)
1 fennel bulb (cut, but save the fronds)
5-7 Yukon Gold potatoes (cut into 1 inch pieces)
2 cans refrigerated, reduced-fat crescent rolls
~1 Tbs butter (I use Promise)
~1 pound of either beef or chicken, cubed (OR you could just go veggie all the way)
4-6 white mushrooms (sliced)
~ 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 can reduced sodium, fat free chicken broth or beef broth
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fat-free evaporated milk

Roasting the Veggies
Put all of the cut veggies into a gallon-sized zip-lock bag. Pour about 1/3 cup olive oil into the bag, and add salt and pepper (~1 Tbs each). Seal the bag and mix the veggies around until they are well-coated. Lay them out as evenly as you can onto a foil-covered baking sheet that has been sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. Bake veggies at 425 for ~35 minutes.

Pie Dishes and Dough
Spray 2 pie dishes with no-stick cooking spray. Separate all the triangles of the crescent roll dough and place them around the pie dishes so that the fat ends of the triangles rest on the bottom of the dishes, while the pointed ends lay up and over the sides of the pie dishes.

Beef or Chicken (wait to do this part until your veggies have baked because you'll need them)
Heat a skillet on high heat. Add 1 Tbs. butter, add the beef or chicken and brown until cooked through. Add mushroom & saute 4-5 minutes. Stir in paprika, thyme, 1/2 tsp. salt, & 1/2 tsp. pepper. Add baked veggies and chicken or beef broth. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Thickening Mixture
While filling is simmering, mix into a coffee mug all-purpose flour and evaporated milk. Mix as well as you can, although it will be a bit lumpy. After filling has simmered for 15 minutes, add the thickening mixture and stir constantly for 2 minutes until well mixed. Gently fold the mixture into the two pie dishes. Fold the pointed ends of the crescent dough over the pie filling, with all the points meeting in the center of each pie.
Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

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BBQ Chicken and Red Onion Pizza with Honey Teriyaki Marinade, Mozzarella and Smoked Gruyere Cheese on a Phyllo Dough Base

This is NOT the best picture, but you'll just have to trust me when I say that this pizza is SO flavorful and yummy! Maybe I can get a better picture the next time I make it.

Extra virgin olive oil (& a brush)
12 sheets thawed phyllo dough
~4 Tbs. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 bottle Honey Teriyaki Marinade
(I use KC Masterpiece)
1 bag shredded mozzarella cheese
~2 Tbs grated smoked Gruyere cheese (or other smoked cheese)
~10 oz. roasted & pulled chicken
(I just buy the rotissere chickens from the deli at my grocery store for this)
1/2 red onion (sliced)

Put down a large piece of wax paper on your working surface. Pour out about 1/2 a cup of EVOO into a shallow bowl. Follow the directions for the phyllo dough to keep it from drying out as you work. Your dough pieces should be 12x9, but you can cut them smaller if you like. Phyllo dough isn't the easiest thing to work with. Be gentle and patient with it. It's worth it!

Phyllo Dough Crust
Lay out a piece of phyllo dough on your wax paper. Brush it with EVOO, gently so it doesn't rip. Lay another piece of phyllo dough on top and brush it with EVOO. Do this a third time. Sprinkle with ~1 Tsp of Parmesan. Repeat this entire process until all twelve sheets have been brushed & layered, making sure to add Parmesan after every third sheet.

Now brush top sheet with a good coating of Honey Teriyaki Marinade (you can also use barbecue sauce). Layer with mozzarella. Lay out your onion and chicken on top of the mozzarella so that it's evenly spread. Grate smoked cheese over the onion and chicken, then add a bit more mozzarella to your liking.
Bake at 400 for 25-27 minutes or until phyllo dough becomes crisp.
(Keep an eye on it! The phyllo dough may burn quickly in your oven.)

You can add ANY topping you want to this delicious phyllo dough pizza crust. Be creative!

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Mini-Barbeque Meatloaves

There are SO many meatloaf recipes out there that I have tried over the years. This is the one I finally settled with, which is a combination of all the different components from recipes that I like.

~1 lb. ground beef
1 large egg
1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 packet of meatloaf seasoning mix
1 tsp. honey
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
(I use KC Masterpiece original)

For the glaze, you will need to mix together the following:
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup barbecue sauce

Line a baking sheet and spray with no-stick cooking spray. Mix all of the meatloaf ingredients together in a large bowl. Shape into mini-loaves and place on the baking sheet. Brush the glaze over the top and sides of each loaf, coating each really well. Bake at 350 for 38-40 minutes.

I serve my minis with whatever veggies we have in the house at the time. Potatoes, corn on the cob, salad, green beans, or whatever you like.

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Grilled Blue and Cream Cheese Sandwiches with Baked Pancetta on Rye Cocktail Bread

I got the cheesy part of this recipe from a Southern Living Magazine recipe (October 2008 issue). The rest, I just made to fit my tastes.

18 rye cocktail bread slices (found in the deli section of your grocery story)
Pancetta (9 slices)
1 (8 oz.) package reduced fat cream cheese
1 (4 oz.) container blue cheese
1 Tbsp honey
red onion (thinly sliced)

Place pancetta slices on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil and sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. Bake at 400 for 12 minutes. Drain and cool on a stack of paper towels. If you would rather use thick bacon strips instead, bake them the same way at 425 for 15-20 minutes.

Cheesy Spread
In a small bowl, mix together softened cream cheese, blue cheese, and honey until well blended. It's hard to stir, so make sure you really put your elbow into it. You will have some of this cheesy spread left over. I just wrap mine up and use it on sandwiches, bagels, and croissants for the next few days. Yum!

Spread one side of each bread slice with the cheesy spread(I lay them out 2-by-2 because you are making 9 mini-sandwiches). Lay once piece of baked pancetta and some red onion slices on 9 of the bread slices. Top with another of your cheese-spread slices of bread. Heat skillet to medium-high heat. Grill the sandwiches as you would a grilled cheese sandwich (I use Promise). I usually grill 2 at a time. When you take them out of the skillet, let them drain and cool on a stack of paper towels. The 'lids' are easy to take off and add lettuce if you want after the sandwiches are grilled.

These were originally supposed to be made using apple slices and arugula, but I didn't like the way they tasted, so I replaced the apple with pancetta. I've also used ham and turkey, which were equally as good. Just make it your own!

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Chicken Stir-Fry

This is my recipe. I just made it up as went along, and it turned out to be really good! The added bowls of noodles and fortune cookies add a little extra to the meal.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1 inch pieces)
1 tsp minced garlic

2 Tbs sesame seeds
1/2 box of rice noodles (I use Taste of Thai) - prepare according to box instructions
2 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 pkg. stir fry seasoning mix
1 large yellow onion (diced)
1 orange bell pepper (diced or sliced)
1 red bell pepper (diced or sliced)
1 green bell pepper (diced or sliced)
1 handful of snow peas
1 can bean sprouts (drained)

Saute chicken in a large skillet (I use Promise instead of butter or oil for my chicken). Mix water, soy sauce, and seasoning mix in a coffee cup and set to the side (mix dissolves easier in warm water). Once chicken is cooked through, add the veggies and rice noodles and saute until they are cooked (5-7 min.). Add the soy sauce mix, stir in well, and saute for 1 min.

I served my stir-fry with La Choy Chow Mein noodles and fortune cookies.

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Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

This is my own version, but I've pulled from different recipes I've found from over the years.

1 bag Morning Star Veggie Crumbles meal starters
1 large yellow onion (diced)
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 pkg. Taco seasoning
(I use Taco Bell)
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tsp. chili powder
3 (15 oz.) can black beans
(I use Bush's seasoned black beans) drained & rinsed
2 (14.5 oz.) cans of petite diced tomatoes
(I use Del Monte diced zesty chili style)
1 (14 oz.) can low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth (or veggie substitute)

Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. Put in whole bag of frozen veggie crumbles, diced onion, and minced garlic in the skillet and saute until brown (6-10 minutes). Add in next 5 ingredients and saute for 1 minute. Stir in drained black beans, tomatoes, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated enough to your liking. Stir frequently.

Serve with your favorite toppings. I use light sour cream, low-fat shredded Mexican cheese, and corn chips or Baked Tostitos Scoops.

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All-Beef BBQ Sliders with Smoked Gruyere Cheese & Paula Deen's Ranch Fries with Dip

The sliders are my recipe, but I got the fries and dip from Paula Deen's magazine.

1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup barbecue sauce (KC Masterpiece original)
1/2 packet meatloaf seasoning mix
1 Tbs honey

To make the sliders the right size, I rolled and patted them into about the size of the top of a drinking glass. I used Pepperidge Farm slider buns, so you can also see how big they are and make your buns around the same size. I grilled them on my George Foreman grill and melted some sliced smoked Gruyere cheese on top. Add your favorite condiments.

Paula Deen's Ranch Fries and Dipping Sauce (July/Aug 2009 magazine)
1 (26-oz.) bag frozen extra crispy fast food fries
1 (1 oz.) package ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Spray a baking sheet with no-stick cooking spray (I like to put foil over the baking sheet, then spray because it's an easy clean up when you're finished baking!). Place the fries on the baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the ranch dressing mix over the fries. Bake on 450 for 11-15 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix together the ketchup, mayonnaise, and the remainder of the ranch dressing mix until it's well blended. 

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Crepes with Homemade Whipped Cream & Fresh Berries

I thought I would try this recipe from Bon Appetite magazine. It worked beautifully!

3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 1/2 Tbs Pernod
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour

Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in milk, Pernod, and salt. Add in flour a little at a time until well blended. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 1 hour under a towel.
Heat a 10 inch skillet on medium-high heat (not too hot or they'll scorch). Spray skillet with no-stick cooking spray. Pour in 1/4 cup of batter and swirl. After about a minute, you'll see the edges start to brown. Flip it and cook on the other side for around 30 seconds. Stack crepes between parchment paper until ready to use. You can also cover with foil & store in the fridge.

Homemade Whipped Cream
1/2 pint whipping cream
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Chill bowl in the freezer for at least 10 minutes before you start to get the best results. Beat whipping cream until it starts to firm (about 1 min.), then add in the sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until it forms peaks (around 5 min.). Store in the fridge until you're ready to use.

I served this with the crepes folded over and added whipped cream and fresh berries on top. You can also roll the crepes and add in a variety of toppings to make it how you like. This was a great 4th of July sweat treat!

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