Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cooking Lean with Giada: Tiramisu

This is an Italian classic dessert. My husband absolutely LOVES Tiramisu! I am also a pretty big fan; especially now that I found a way to make a light version of it. This particular recipe was inspired by Giada De Laurentiis. I will warn you that it uses raw egg, so make sure you are using the freshest, best quality eggs you can find. We don't need anyone getting sick over this delicious dessert. I made it and everyone turned out OK. Here is the "Light and Lean" version of the Italian dessert classic, Tiramisu.

Serves 6


*6 egg yolks
3 tablespoons SPLENDA
2 (8-ounce) packages FAT FREE Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 1/2 cups strong espresso, cooled
2 teaspoons dark rum
24 packaged ladyfingers
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate shavings, for garnish


In a large bowl, using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and SPLENDA until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Add cream cheese and beat until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of espresso and mix until thoroughly combined.

In a small shallow dish, add remaining espresso and rum. Dip each ladyfinger into espresso for only 5 seconds. Letting the ladyfingers soak too long will cause them to fall apart. Place the soaked ladyfinger on the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch baking dish, breaking them in half if necessary in order to fit the bottom.

Spread evenly 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture over the ladyfingers. Arrange another layer of soaked ladyfingers and top with remaining mascarpone mixture.

Cover tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours.

Before serving, sprinkle with chocolate shavings.


This dessert turned out really well. My one bit of advice is to be sure not to over-soak the lady fingers. Too much is a bad thing in this case. Overall, this is any easy recipe that is sure to impress your family or dinner guests. Using the fat free cream cheese is going to save tons of fat, but still give you the creamy consistency of mascarpone. Simple changes with for super-savings. Enjoy!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 259.33 calories;  6.02g fat;  30.75g carbohydrate;  15.53g protein;  .13g fiber


* Food Network Raw Egg Warning~
Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cooking Lean with Rachael Ray: Chicken and Broccoli with Orange Sauce

It's pretty tough to order Chinese take-out and make it a lean meal. That is, unless you have the will to order off the "diet menu". Let's be honest, even that doesn't really satisfy the craving for Chinese. Instead of denying yourself the delicious flavors you are looking for, try this recipe for Chicken and Broccoli with Orange Sauce on for size. The great part about making this dish at home is the control you have; control over the oil and salt content, as well as portion size.

Serves 4


1/2 cup LOW SODIUM/FAT FREE chicken stock, divided
1 package Uncle Ben's Microwavable Brown Rice
1 small bunch scallions, thinly sliced on an angle
1 large bundle broccolini (or broccoli), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup LOW SODIUM soy sauce
1/2 cup SUGAR-FREE orange marmalade


If using the microwavable rice, open the bag of rice to vent and microwave for 90 seconds (directions are on the package).
Add the scallions and fluff with a fork.

Bring a few inches of water to a boil for the broccolini or broccoli.
Meanwhile, thinly slice breast meat, butterfly each breast into cutlets; then thinly slice. Season sliced chicken with salt and pepper.
To boiling water, add some salt and broccolini/broccoli. Parboil the broccolini/broccoli for 3-4 minutes then drain, run under cool water and reserve.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. To the very hot pan, add chicken and stir-fry until golden, no more than 5 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate and reserve. Add remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan, along with the ginger and garlic. Stir 30 seconds then add soy, marmalade and 1/2 cup stock. Add chicken and broccolini back to pan to heat until sauce is thickened.
Serve chicken and broccolini with a scoop of rice on top.


What a great way to have take-out without having to leave your kitchen! The flavors are fantastic! Plus, by putting a scoop of rice on top (I used an ice cream scooper) instead of serving over rice, this keeps portions under control. You are then getting more of the meat and veggies, not mostly rice.

Rachael's recipe is already a pretty healthy dish. She created this as a better alternative to Chinese take-out. What a success! The only changes I made were to reduce the oil by one tablespoon, use low-sodium chicken broth and sugar free marmalade. These are just a few simple changes that can lean this dish out just a little more. This is a Chinese dish you can feel great about finishing. Now go ahead and have that fortune cookie!


NUTRITION FACTS (per serving with 1/2 cup brown rice): 437.75 calories;  10.88g fat;  48.24g carbohydrate;  46.2g protein;  6.5g fiber

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Figure Friendly Fast-Food

Is there really such a thing? Fast food that won't give you all the calories you need for an entire day in one, single sandwich. Yes!

Now, I am not saying that fast food is the best, but it is definitely better than nothing. If you are in a pinch, running around without much time to grab a meal, finding a drive thru is healthier than skipping a meal; as long as you make a smart choice. We want our bodies to stay fed and not ever feel as if they are STARVING! Starving your body is the same as slowing it down. A body with a slow metabolism burns less fuel, essentially causing the body to store more fat. Not what we want. That is why grabbing a little fast food is better than ignoring your hunger.

So...what qualifies as a figure friendly fast food choice? Here are some of my "go-to" choices from a few popular fast food establishments:

McDonald's ~ Grilled Snack Wrap (BBQ or Honey Mustard) 260 calories/9 g/fat
                         Hamburger - 250 calories/ 9 g/fat

Taco Bell~ Fresco Ranchero Chicken Soft Taco-  170 calories/ 4 g/fat + 12g/protein
                   Fresco Grilled Steak Soft Taco-  160 calories/ 4.5g/fat + 9g/protein

Burger King~ Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich (no mayo)- 360 calories/ 7g/fat
                        (drop the bun and only 170 calories/ 4g/fat)

Chick-fil-a~ Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich- 300 calories/ 3.5g/fat + 29 g/protein

Of course, salads are always another option (be careful of high fat salad dressings). However, I don't know about you, but a salad just doesn't do it for me. I need a little more to keep me satisfied.

There are other healthy options out there, but I just wanted to show a few examples. Every fast food restaurant has nutrition facts available (in store and online). You don't have to go hungry or order blindly. Know what you are eating and enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cooking Lean with Giada: Filet Mignon with Red Wine Sauce

While I made this, I could actually feel my kitchen confidence levels moving up a notch. Me? Making a red wine sauce like a chef in a "fancy-shmanshy" restaurant? Yes, it really did happen. And you can make it happen too! Here is how my light red wine sauce turned out with our filets.


Serves 3


3 (4 to 6-ounce) filet mignons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cold "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1-1/2 cups dry red wine


Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Generously season the steaks with salt and pepper and drizzle with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Grill to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoons of butter (ICBINB) in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Add the garlic and oregano and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the wine. Simmer until the sauce reduces by half, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. Strain the sauce into a small bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard (or set aside) the solids in the strainer and return the sauce to the saucepan and bring back to a slow simmer. Cut the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and whisk in the sauce a little at a time. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Place filets on each of 3 dinner plates. Drizzle the sauce over the filets and serve.


I was so excited with the way this turned out. When Rudy challenged me to making a red wine sauce for the filets we had in the refrigerator, I was a little intimidated at first. But if I have learned anything over the past year, it has been that there is no shame in trying. The only shame is in not trying at all. So...I gave it a whirl and I am so happy I did!

The main thing I did to lean-out this recipe was to cut the butter by more than half. For three filets, Giada's recipe would call for 3 tablespoons of butter; mine only uses two. Plus, by using "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter", we are still getting the butter taste with only 1/2 the saturated fat! I am sure Giada's red wine sauce is unreal because even with cutting all that butter, the flavor from the wine, onions and oregano together were delicious.

Giada's directions say to discard the onions, but I held onto them. For plating the filets, first take a spoonful of the sauce and place it on the center of the dish. Then add a scoop of removed onions. Place the filet on top of the onions and drizzle with additional sauce. Bon appétit!

I love this sauce and what it did for my cooking confidence. Just another successful lesson from the Cookin' Lean Kitchen. If this is new to you too; go ahead, get brave and give it a try!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 328 calories;  13.92g fat;  11.26g carbohydrate;  20.97g protein;  .87g fiber

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Why I LOVE Herbs and Spices

Ask Paula Deen how to make a dish taste better, she will say, "Add butter." Ask my husband, he will say, "BACON!" Ask Rachael Ray and you'll get, "EVOO = YUM-O!" And ask Bobby Flay and he may just tell you to, "Grill it!" Guess what? They are all right on.

But if you ask me, I will have you consider adding a little spice. I LOVE herbs and spices! Herbs and spices are not only a way to add tons of flavor without the added fat and calories, but they are also packed with health-boosting nutrients and other benefits. Let's take oregano, for example, which has as many antioxidants in a half a teaspoon as can be found in an entire spinach salad. If you are looking for a little heat, ginger, cayenne and black pepper contain compounds found to boost the metabolism. These three also have an aphrodisiac effect, but we'll leave that for a post some other time.

A very popular herb that is currently in season, and will be until September, is basil. In just two tablespoons of chopped basil, you will find more than a quarter of your Daily Value for vitamin K, A and C; as well as iron and calcium. Studies can even support that basil is able to aide in the reduction of inflammation and the growth of bacteria. Don't know what to do with the extra fresh basil you buy? Wach, de-stem and dry it. Then, chop it in a food processor with a minimal amount of olive oil. Press this into an ice tray and freeze. These will keep for several months.

Whether fresh or dried, these spices and herbs are a healthy way to add flavor and nutrients to your dishes. The next time you reach for the butter, bacon or salt...take a peek at your spice rack. You will find all you need and more.

~Image taken from

Monday, July 19, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Banana Pudding

This is a CLASSIC dessert! Almost every cook-out I go to over the summer has a dish of banana pudding. There are quite a few different ways to make it, but this recipe is modeled after Paula's recipe from her Lady & Son's Savannah Country Cookbook. Have a look!

Serves 8 to 10


1/2 cup SPLENDA
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups FAT FREE or 1% milk
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"
3 medium bananas, sliced
REDUCED FAT Nilla wafers
1 (8-ouce) container FAT FREE Cool Whip


Mix together sugar, SPLENDA and flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Slowly add milk. Continue to stir, constantly, until it thickens. DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED. Slightly beat egg yolks and temper with a small amount of hot custard; stir well. Add egg mixture to custard pot and cook 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and ICBINB. Let cool. In a 7x11-inch dish, layer pudding, bananas and wafers, beginning with pudding and ending with pudding. Place in refrigerator for at least one hour. Add 8 ounces FAT FREE Cool Whip topping and spread over the top of pudding. ENJOY!


It was everything I had hoped for and more. I loved it...and so did everyone else. There is just something so simple and delicious about this dessert. It can be casual or you can make it fancy just by plating it in a different way.
Trust me; before summer is over, you need to give this a try!

NUTRITION FACTS(per serving): 205 calories;  6g fat;  34g carbohydrate;  3g protein;  1g fiber

~ Paula's original recipe can be found on here or in her Lady & Son's Savannah Country Cookbook; page 156: Random House, New York.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Almond ~ Raisin ~ Broccoli Salad

This recipe is a variation of what I would consider to be a traditional broccoli salad, like the one I made last month. The almonds, honey and golden raisins give this salad a sweet side and the green onions tone down the onion power of most broccoli salads. This salad can be thrown together in minutes; ready for dinner or your next neighborhood barbeque.

Makes 10 servings


6 cups small fresh broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
1 cup golden raisins
8 slices CENTERCUT bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 green onions, sliced
2/3 cup Hellmann's LOW FAT mayonnaise dressing
1/4 cup NATURAL honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 (2.25-ounce) package sliced almonds


In a medium bowl, combine broccoli florets, raisins, bacon and green onion.

In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, honey and lemon juice. Pour over broccoli mixture, tossing gently to coat. Stir in almonds just before serving.


You just can't go wrong with this salad. It's simple, light and delicious. Because things with too much onion are not really my favorite (I just don't like tasting things hours later), I prefer this broccoli salad recipe over others. The green onions are subtle; providing flavor without overpowering it. If you like broccoli salad, you are going to LOVE this one.


NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 152.9 calories;  4.78g fat;  26.65g carbohydrate;  4.8g protein;  2.64g fiber

~ Original recipe from Paula Deen's Best Dishes~2010 Issue; page 43: Hoffman Media, LLC.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cooking Lean with Rachel Ray: Pimiento Cheese Burgers

As promised, the "Cookin' Lean Kitchen" is growing. We are going to be trying out new and exciting dishes from some of Paula Deen's Food Network friends such as the smart and savvy Rachael Ray.
This recipe for Pimiento Cheeseburgers is so delicious and allowed me to earn a little grilling respect around my house. The men (my husband and brother) were quite impressed with not only the delicious cheese sauce, but the flavor of the burger itself. What I do love about Rachael is how she offers up lighter suggestions while she is making her dishes. Well, I took some of those suggestions and then added to them; creating a lean burger sure to please.

Serves 4 (Makes 4 burgers)



2 lb lean ground beef (93/7) or Jeannie-O Lean Ground Turkey
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons sweet paprika, a couple of palmfuls
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped


1 tablespoon "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"
1/4 cup minced white onion
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup 1% or FAT FREE (Skim) milk
1 cup loosely packed shredded yellow 2%   cheddar cheese
1 cup loosely packed shredded FAT FREE cheddar cheese
1 4-ounce jar of pimientos, drained well, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, eyeball the amount
Few dashes hot sauce, to your taste

4 whole grain white 100-Calorie "Pepperidge Farm" deli flats


Combine meat with salt, pepper, paprika and parsley. Form 4 large patties, making them thinner at middle for even cooking and to counteract the bulging of the meat as it cooks. Drizzle burgers with EVOO to coat.
Heat a large, cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook burgers 8 minutes turning once for medium-rare and up to 12 minutes for medium-well.

In a medium saucepan over medium to medium-low heat, melt ICBINB, then add onions and garlic and cook 5 minutes. Add flour and stir to combine. Add milk and heat through for a minute, then melt the cheese into milk – the sauce will be very thick, barely spoonable. Add pimientos, Worcestershire, hot sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve burgers on deli flats with pimiento cheese sauce on top and a pickle and baked chips or salad alongside.


HELLO! These things were awesome! Something else that was great about them is that they can be done without a grill. You can use an indoor grill (perhaps George Foreman?) or grill pan. Personally, the gas grill outside scares me. I have seen my Dad burn off his eyebrows one too many times. But, the grill pan makes it possible to cook the burgers without the fear of hair loss. Bonus!

Leaning up this recipe was easy! Using lean meat and light cheese was a big step. Plus, the deli flats can cut as much as 150 calories. They only pack 100 calories each, instead of using a larger bun with anywhere between 200-300 calories. I'd rather save with bread and have a little dessert later!

I hope you enjoyed this twist on Rachel Ray's Pimiento Cheeseburgers. To see her original recipe and more, check out her website here.

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 469.75 calories;  12.02g fat;  31.14g carbohydrate;  64.02g protein;  5.93g fiber

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Roasted Potato Salad with Caramelized Onions and Blue Cheese Dressing

It wasn't until my recent adventures with the Real Women of Philadelphia that I ever considered making my own cooking videos. But the whole experience has shed new light on my life and given me new ideas for the future. One of those new ideas is bringing cooking videos to others through my blog. It was so much fun and just because I didn't win in Savannah doesn't mean it has to end.

So, it is with great excitement that I post the very first video from "The Cookin' Lean Kitchen". Now, remember, this is a learning process for me. Editing and video making are new territory, but we will get there. I hope you find the video helpful!

Makes 12 servings

4-5 pounds red, white and blue (if you can find them) potatoes; cut into 1 inch pieces
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil; divided
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2-1/2 teaspoons salt; divided
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper; divided
1 tablespoon "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"
1-1/2 poinds onions; cut into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices
Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large pan with non-stick aluminum foil. Spray lightly if desired.

In a large bowl, combine potatoes, 2 tablespoons of EVOO, garlic, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper; tossing to coat. Arrange on prepared baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes; or until lightly browned. Stir occasionally. Remove from oven and cool.

In a large skillet, heat remaining EVOO and butter over medium heat. Add onions and remaining salt and pepper. Cook for 30-35 minutes, stirring often until caramel colored.

In a large bowl, combine potatoes and onions; add Blue Cheese Dressing. Toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley if desired.


3/4 cup Hellmann's Lowfat Mayonnaise Dressing
1 (4-ounce) container REDUCED FAT crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons FAT FREE sour cream
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, combine mayo, blue cheese, sour cream, horserasich and black pepper.


This is a great twist to the traditional potato salad. My family and neighbors love it! One thing I forgot to mention in the video was the sour cream. Don't forget it! It is only a couple tablespoons, but it makes a huge difference in the consistency on the dressing.

Give it a try!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 206.92 calories;  7.21g fat;  32.3g carbohydrate;  4.36g protein;  4.56g fiber

~ The original recipe is from Paula Deen's Best Dishes 2010-Special Issue; page 45 Hoffman Media, LLC.

Rachael Ray

This is my collection of recipe make-overs for Rachael Ray. A lot of times, Rachael will suggest ways for making her recipes healthier. Here, I have taken some of those suggestions and added a few of my own. As she would say "YUM-O!"


Back in Black (video)


Buffalo Popcorn Chicken Bites

Jalapeno Popper Sliders

Stacked Caprese Sticks



Cauliflower and Ham au Gratin

Cheese Fries

Crispy Mashed Potato Cakes

Toasted Cornbread, Bacon and Almond Stuffing


Apple, Cheddar and Bacon Monte Cristos

Chicken and Broccoli with Orange Sauce

Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss

Cubano Hot Dogs

Fusilli with Crisp Kale and Ricotta

Goat Cheese-Spinach Pizza

Pimiento Cheeseburgers

Portobello Pizzas

Pumpkin Ravioli

Rigatoni with Grilled Beef and Gravy

Sliced Steak Gyros

Tuna Melt Mac N' Cheese

Vermont Chicken Pie

Well-Dressed Salmon



Chocolate Dipped Bananas

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

Spicy Bacon-Cheddar Butterflies

Giada De Laurentiis

Giada De Laurentiis uses a lot of wonderful, fresh ingredients in her dishes. With Italian influences, you are going to find a great deal of olive oil, cheeses and pasta. Yet, there are also many naturally light dishes which come from her style of cooking. Here you will find a collection of her recipes, which I have modified to make light and easy to put together.


Aloha L.A. Cocktail

Italian Lemonade


Mini Italian Club Sandwiches

Pizzettes with Gorgonzola, Tomato and Basil



Couscous Cakes


Asparagus Lasagna

Chicken and Orzo Frittata

Chicken Parmesan

Filet Mignon with Red Wine Sauce


Chocolate Raspberry Bars with White Chocolate and Almonds

Italian Glazed Donuts



Ina Garten

Ina Garten (AKA Barefoot Contessa) is another popular food star from the ever fabulous and entertaining Food Network. She makes some great dishes, but like some of our other Food Network friends, she isn't afraid to use butter and other diet crashers. Have no fear 'cause I am here to make cooking light with Ina Garten's recipes a breeze.




Cheddar Corn Chowder


Onion Rings


Chicken with Herbed Goat Cheese


Bobby Flay

Bobby Flay is just awesome. That sums it up! His style of cooking, plus the ingredients he uses; he is simply a culinary master. I am really trying to challenge myself and tackle some of his famous and fabulous recipes. When I read a recipe and don't know at least three things on the list, then I know it is going to be a good lesson. This happens quite often with his stuff and instead of being terrified, I am totally excited and eager to learn. Hopefully you enjoy learning along with me! Here's what I've done so far...



Guacamole with Cumin Dusted Tortillas



Mesa Grill's Southwestern Potato Salad

Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing


Grilled Banana and Nutella Panini


Paula Deen's Lean: Summer Squash Tart with Cornmeal Crust

There are a lot of reasons why I love the summer. Yes, I have the summer off like I did as a child; one of the wonderful perks to teaching. Yes, the weather is just to my liking. But there is one more super summer treat which I am thankful for and that is the amount of fresh produce brought to my door.
This is not something I signed up for, yet something I have been blessed with. My friends, neighbors and family like to garden...and I cook. See where I am going here? They know if they have an extra amount of squash, zucchini or any other garden produce, I will gladly take it off their hands.
This recipe is a fabulous way to use fresh squash and zucchini! It is simple, delicious and you guessed it, healthy too.

Makes 8 to 10 servings


1 (7.5-ounce) package cornbread mix
2/3 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon dried dill

Squash Filling~

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"
2 cups thinly sliced zucchini (about 2 medium)
2 cups thinly sliced yellow squash (about 2 medium)
1 cup yellow onion; chopped
1 cup shredded REDUCED FAT Swiss cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare cornbread mix according to directions and place in a 11 x 8 -inch baking pan. Bake for roughly 15 minutes (or according to package instructions).

To prepare the filling, melt butter and warm EVOO over medium heat in a large skillet. Add zucchini, squash and onion; saute for 7 to 8 minuts or until squash is tender. Remove squash and drain on several paper towels for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, stir together cheese, egg, salt, dill and pepper. Add squash and gently stir. Spoon squash filling evenly over prepared crust (cornbread). Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Cut into squares to serve.


This recipe is perfect for summer squash and zucchini. There is so much more to do with these veggies than just baking, dipping and frying. This is a great example of the versitility of squash and zucchini.

Now, about this recipe. I really cut down on the complexity of it by simply using a cornbread mix. The original recipe has you making your own crust using flour, butter, cornmeal and there is something in there about ice water. Whatever! Sounds like a great opportunity for a short cut! It cuts down on time, fat and frustration by using cornbread mix. I know you like the sound of that.

My in-law's, who so generously gifted these great veggies, were thrilled with the outcome and I just know your family will be too. It makes a great dish that can be enjoyed as a side or even as a mid-afternoon snack. Just 30 seconds in the microwave and it's snack time. YUM!

~ The original recipe is taken from Paula Deen's Best Dishes 2010-Special Issue; page 49. Huffman Media, LLC

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: The Great Ground Beef Battle

For the majority of my life, I was not a red meat eater. Yes, this Parrothead did not always enjoy a Cheeseburger in Paradise at the Buffett show each summer. Half of you are probably thinking that is the way it should be. For whatever reason of your own, meat has been excluded from your diets entirely. And I respect that. While the other half are wondering why I would deny myself such great pleasure all those years. Well, I will give you the flat out truth. The reason I passed on steak and burgers all those years was because of the fat content. I knew beef had a higher amount of fat than chicken and turkey, so that is what I opted for. Now, we can argue different pros and cons to red meat, but for today, we are just talkin’ fat content. We will save the rest for another Tuesday.

My feelings toward burgers and steaks changed when I met my hubby. On one of the first “dates” we had, he took me over to his friend’s house for dinner. What was for dinner? Steaks. I didn’t want to be rude, so I took that first bite. After that, I was hooked. Sorry, I love a great steak! And this was a really great one. From that point on, red meat was a friend of mine.

While it still holds true that a boneless skinless chicken breast has a considerably lower amount of fat, than let's say, a rib eye, the same does not hold true when looking at ground meat.

Last night while shopping for burger meat to make Pimiento Cheeseburgers (recipe coming soon!), I thought I'd make a comparison between my options. If I look at the leanest ground beef, how does it size up next to ground chicken or turkey?

Are you ready for the shocking discovery? Ground turkey and chicken pack anywhere between 12-17 grams of fat per serving. At that rate, you are better off getting 93/7 or even 80/20 ground beef! How could this be? I thought chicken and turkey were lean. Well, just like us, we have lean parts and then we have parts that provide a little extra insulation. Ground turkey and chicken includes both of these parts, unless specifically stated.

If you are able to find ground chicken or turkey "breast", now we are talkin'. The fat content is extremely low and worth passing on the ground beef for. So, if fat is a factor when making burgers or other recipes calling for ground beef, then first look for ground chicken or turkey breast. Look for the word “lean” on the package. Jenny-O makes one that is 99% fat free! That is your best bet. After that, go with the good stuff and use 93/7 ground beef.

                                                               The Numbers

Ground Turkey (85% Lean)                        14.9 g/fat                        4 ounce serving
Ground Chicken                                           11 g/fat                         3 ounce serving
Ground Beef (93/7)                                        6 g/fat                         4 ounce serving
Jenny-O Ground Turkey (99%)                       1g/fat                         4 ounce serving

Just remember, chicken or turkey doesn’t always mean healthier for you. Check the labels and packaging before buying in order to make the best decision.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Spicy White Lasagna

It's fun to make things a little out of the ordinary. Why does lasagna always have to be about ground beef and tomato sauce? Well, it doesn't. In this lasagna, Paula gives a fun twist to this classic favorite with Alfredo, sausage, chicken and Cajun seasoning. Sounds good, right? It probably also sounds a bit heavy too. No worries. You all know the drill by now. This recipe has gotten a southern slim-down and is the perfect dish for your next supper, dinner party or potluck.

Makes 6 to 8 servings


8 uncooked WHOLE WHEAT lasagna noodles
12 oz Jimmy Dean REDUCED-FAT ground sausage
4 oz Jimmy Dean Hot ground sausage
1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" pieces
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic; finely chopped
2 (15-ounce) jars RAGU LIGHT Alfredo sauce, divided
1/2 cup FAT FREE/REDUCED SODIUM chicken broth
1/2 cup FAT FREE grated Parmesan cheese
1 (15-ounce) container FAT FREE ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 (6-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach
2 cups KRAFT FAT FREE mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 11x7-inch baking dish; cooking spray.

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain. It is suggested to cook the noodles about one or two minutes less than the package tells you too; al dente.

In a large skillet, combine sausage, chicken and Cajun seasoning; cook over medium-high heat 7 to 9 minutes or until sausage is brown and crumbly. Remove chicken and sausage mixture from skillet, reserving dripping in skillet.

Add onion and garlic to hot drippings in skillet; cook over medium heat for roughly 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in meat mixture, one jar of Alfredo sauce, chicken broth and grated parmesan.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, egg and basil; spread half of mixture over the bottom of prepared baking dish. Top with half of remaining jar of Alfredo sauce. Arrange 4 noodles over the sauce. Spread half of meat mixture over the noodles. Arrange half of spinach over the meat mixture. Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella. Repeat procedure for remaining ricotta mixture, Alfredo sauce, noodles, meat mixture, spinach and mozzarella.

Bake 50 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes (at least) before serving.


Let's just say this, the first words out of my husband's mouth after taking his first bite were, "Wow, Lindsay. You have really outdone yourself." Boy does that feel great! I love to cook, but the most rewarding part of it all is having the people you cook for love what you make. Both he and my brother couldn't get enough of it. And let's be honest, neither could I. Even the little one kept asking, "Mo, pleeeese!" I gotta give thanks to Paula for another inspiring dish which my family loves.
What is great about this dish, other than the taste and trimmed down ingredients, is that it can be made the day before and reheated in the oven or microwave. It's one of those dishes you could make on a Sunday afternoon and then throw it back in the oven Monday evening for a quick, homemade dinner.

Overall, this dish has it all; protein, grains, vegetables, dairy and a very high "YUM" factor. I give it a perfect 10!


~ This recipe comes from Paula Deen's Best Dishes 2010-Special Issue ( page 39)
Hoffman Media, LLC

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Collard Greens Risotto

This side dish was one which I was really excited, and a little nervous, about trying. If you are a Hell's Kitchen fan, then you will understand why. Since season one, I have watched Chef Ramsey rip apart numerous "head-chef hopefuls" for their attempts at making risotto. Either it comes out too crunchy, too salty, too bland or just a bowl full of mush. More times than not, the risotto coming out of HK is just not up to par according to Chef Ramsey's standards. And these people are experienced chefs! How am I going to do? This dish must be tough!

Well, lucky for me, Chef Ramsey was not hanging over my shoulder while I took a stab at Paula Deen's Collard Green Risotto. One thing for sure is that I gained even more respect for those chefs working the appetizer station. Risotto is hard work! It requires constant stirring and monitoring. If you are planning to make this dish, you have permission to skip your arm workout for the next three days.

Here is the lighter version of this labor-intensive rice dish...


Makes 4 to 6 servings


2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small onion; finely chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 (32-ounce) box plus 1 (14-ounce) can FAT FREE/REDUCED SODIUM chicken (or veggie) broth, warmed
1/2 (!6-ounce) package frozen collard greens, thawed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


In a Dutch oven, warm EVOO over medium heat. Add onion and  for sauté about 10 minutes or until tender.
 Stir in rice and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 1 cup pf warm broth; cook until absorbed and stir constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1 cup of broth; stirring constantly until all liquid is absorbed. Repeat for the remaining broth; stirring constantly each time until liquid is absorbed. Stir in collard greens, salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and sprinke with Parmesan. Serve immediately.


Like I said, this dish is labor-intensive. I had never made it and just needed to give it a try. It has been made and now I know; a valuable learning experience. I couldn't imagine trying to keep the risotto going while making anything else though. It would be difficult to multi-task with such a "needy" dish. With all of that being said, it was still delicious. My word of advice would be to not rush the process. There were moments where I thought, "This is good enough" or "Do I really need to add all this broth?" Don't do it. Follow the directions without missing a step and you will get great risotto. Skip a step or try to rush it and, well, Chef Ramsey has words for what you will get. I am not going to write those. You know what I mean.

Overall, the reward was worth all the work. It takes time, but if I can do it...anyone can do it.Give it a try!
Your guests will sure to be impressed!

Hell's Kitchen chefs, much respect!

~ The original recipe can be found in Paula Deen's Best Dishes 2010 - Special Issue; page 102
Hoffman Media, LLC

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Crispy Chicken with Creamy Orange Sauce

Fast family suppers are huge in my house. Between work, school and that beautiful element of surprise in our lives, it can be easy to give in to the "take-out temptation". Well, recipes like Paula's Crispy Chicken with Creamy Orange Sauce allow me to make a great tasting and healthy dinner for my family, without spending hours in the kitchen. The original recipe was taken from the March/April 2010 issue of Cooking with Paula Deen (page 38). Look how easy this is! The perfect dinner for those busy weeknights. You are just going to love it!

Makes 6 Servings

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 egg whites, beaten
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded 1/4 inch thick
1-1/2 cup FAT FREE half & half
3/4 teaspoon fresh minced thyme leaves
3 tablespoons SUGAR FREE orange marmalade
Garnish: fresh thyme sprigs, grated orange zest

In three separate bowls, place flours, egg whites and panko. Dredge each chicken breast in flour, then egg, and finally in panko.

Warm a large non-stick skillet to medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray and add chicken. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, or until chicken is done. Wipe skillet clean.

Add half & half and thyme to pan; bring to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, for roughly 8 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Stir in orange marmalade. Serve the sauce over the chicken and garnish with orange zest and fresh thyme sprigs.

Incredible! The taste was wonderful and I was really impressed with how pretty it is too. One thing to note is that using half & half instead of heavy cream does cause the thickening process to take a little longer. If it doesn't look "thick", don't worry. After about 8 minutes, add the marmalade. It will take the consistency to where it needs to be.

There is a way to have breaded proteins in a healthy way. I think we hear "breaded" and automatically think "deep fried" or "fattening". That does not have to be the case. In this recipe, using egg whites and panko keeps the breading very light. Also, simply using a cooking spray instead of veggie oil keeps the fat down in the cooking process. Overall, the outcome is still a crispy chicken breast with a creamy orange sauce. The only difference is fat and calories. Try it and you will see what I mean.


NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 232.67 calories;  2.77g fat;  23.20g carbohydrate;  30.0g protein;  2.3g fiber

Monday, July 5, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Recap of Savannah

Today's post is more about livin' large than livin' lean! What I mean by this is that for the past week, my experiences have been bigger than I could have ever imagined. The people, the places, and the memories we shared were incredible. Like I told Paula on Wednesday before the live event, "No matter what happens tonight, my life has been changed because of this." I sincerely meant it. No, I didn't walk away with the grand prize, but I definitely didn't lose a thing. Kraft, EQAL and Paula Deen have given me an incredible opportunity and a sneak peek into what is out there. I have big dreams now; clear dreams. Dreams that will become a reality by putting ideas into action. I am excited to celebrate one year with my readers and this blog. I am also very excited with what is yet to come!Stick around and see where this next year will take us.

Here are a few picks from my fantastic week in Savannah! Congratulations to the four winners: Mandy, KC, Caryn and Sheila. You ladies are wonderful! Once again, big thanks to Paula Deen, Kraft, EQAL and the Real Women of Philadelphia.

All my Philly Ladies!

They don't mess around with accommodations! Nice, right? First class all the way.

Just before the cook-off! We are ready!!
 Paula's kitchen!!!

My biggest fan & hubby, Rudy.

What an amazing experience! I can't say it enough. The fun still continues, so please check out and see how you can become a part of the action. Maybe your Philadelphia Cream Cheese creation will make it into the cookbook! Get cookin'!!


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