Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Garlic Chicken with Creamy Tomato Pasta

PASTA, PASTA, PASTA! I love pasta! If only I could escape to a vacation in Italy. The pasta...the wine...oh my! I would be like a kid in a candy store. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening anytime soon, so let's just bring Italy home to me.
I love this pasta dish because it includes fresh ingredients and takes little time to prepare. Let's face it, it's a bit challenging to cook up labor-intensive, gourmet dinner when there is a 2-year-old attached to your leg. The less time spent cookin', the more time I can spend playing with the little one. Instead of surrendering to the "just order in" voices in your head, check out this option.
This recipe comes from the "Stove-Top Success" section in Paula Deen's March/April 2010 issue of Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine (page 37). It is simple, fresh and delicious. In less than 30 minutes, you can have a healthy, well-balanced dinner the whole family will enjoy. Here's all it takes...

Serves 4


3 cups uncooked WHOLE WHEAT rotini pasta
FAT FREE Olive Oil spray
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts; cut into bite-size pieces
1 shallot, sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup light cream
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 cups packed fresh baby spinach
Parmesan cheese


Cook pasta according to package directions; drain well, set aside and keep warm.

Spray a large Dutch oven or large stovetop pan with Olive Oil spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Add chicken, shallot, bell pepper and garlic; saute for 7 minutes or until the chicken is cooked completely. Add the crushed tomatoes, cream and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and slowly stir in the pasta and spinach. Serve right away. If you want, add some shredded Parmesan cheese on top!


It was a hit! If you and your family like pasta with tomato sauce, then this is a dish to try. This pasta dish has the familiar taste that we love, but it is full of vitamin rich spinach and protein packed chicken. Usually we have left overs, but with my "little" brother joining us for dinner (who may be younger but is a good six inches taller than me), there was nothin' left to pack away. I need to have him over for dinner more often!

I hope you decide to give this recipe a try. If you are a busy person, this is definitely a recipe to bookmark.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad

After being blessed with such beautiful spring weather this past week, I knew it was time to start firing up the grill. There is nothing better than fresh vegetables on the grill. Normally we chop up some peppers, onions and zucchini, toss them in a little EVOO, salt and pepper, wrap them in foil and throw them on. They make a great side to a delicious steak or BBQ chicken. But for this dish, the veggies are taking center stage. Tossed with whole wheat pasta and some light dressing, this dish makes a perfect meal for those perfect summer nights.

Makes 4-6 Servings

1 lb. WHOLE WHEAT penne pasta
2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2 thick wedges
1 lb. asparagus spears, trimmed
1 sweet green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut in half
2 sweet red peppers, cored, seeded and cut in half
1-1/4 cup FAT FREE Vidalia salad dressing
10 fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and cut into thin strips
salt to taste


In a baking dish, toss the vegetables with 1 cup of dressing. Place in the refrigerator for one hour.

While veggies are marinating, cook pasta and heat up the grill.

Working in batches, grill the peppers, asparagus and onion (3 minutes on each side). Veggies should still be firm.

Remove the vegetables from the grill and cut into large pieces.

In a large bowl or serving platter, toss the veggies and pasta together. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of dressing. Toss in the basil leaves. Serve at room temperature.


It was just as delicious and refreshing as I had hoped. Sometimes my body just craves fresh veggies. When the weather turns warmer, I tend to favor lighter dishes such as this. Well, this one hit the spot! Now, if you read my comments on the veggie quesadillas from a couple months ago, then you know that hubby doesn't take kindly to meals lacking in the meat department. So, to satisfy my caveman's husband's appetite, I added some grilled chicken.

For the chicken, I pounded it thin and seasoned it with a little of Paula's House Seasoning. I sliced the chicken into strips, then tossed the strips in with the pasta and veggies. Simple and delish!

If you are not a fan of Vidalia dressing, another suggestion would be a fat free Italian. The next time I make this dish, I am going to give the Italian a try.

Overall, this recipe is easy, fresh, light and delicious. It doesn't get much better than that!

Check out Paula's original recipe here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Bacon Wrapped Breadsticks (Asparagus Spears)

Recently, Paula's website was all about bacon. Shocking, I know. She featured tons of recipes, all including this wonderful southern meat. The one that looked really easy and delicious to me was her Bacon Wrapped Breadsticks. Being that there are very few ingredients in this appetizer, I was left with little room to make healthy adjustments. To make the biggest nutritional impact, the foundation of this recipe, the breadstick, has been swapped for asparagus. This not only saves calories and carbohydrates, but it opens up the possibility for this recipe to be served as a side and not just an appetizer.

Makes 24 Spears (about 8 servings)

24 asparagus spears
12 slices Reduced-Fat bacon (center cut)
1 teaspoon garlic salt or powder
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut bacon slices in half. Wrap one bacon half around each asparagus spear. Line the wrapped spears on a lined baking sheet, sprayed with Fat Free olive oil cooking spray. Sprinkle garlic salt over the spears. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle cheese over the spears and bake an additional 3-5 minutes, or until cheese melts. Let cool slightly and serve.

If serving as an appetizer, use honey mustard dipping sauce.


I was really happy with the way these turned out. We do baked asparagus at least once a week in our house, so this was a nice change. Even though the breadsticks were replaced with a veggie, they are still satisfying and filling. It doesn't take much to get your fill. We had ours with dinner as a side dish (and you only need 3 or 4).

I would definitely make these again as a party appetizer. They are just enough to get the appetite going without filling you up too much. ENJOY!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Spinach and Bacon Quiche

I feel so fancy making a quiche. My friend Tina has talked about making them before and I have always been so impressed. It just sounds complicated and a bit too gourmet for I thought.
After skimming over Paula's recipe for quiche and seeing how easy it was, passing it up was out of the question. I had to make it. Well, now the secret is out, 'cause making a quiche is an easy as pie. Actually, it may be easier than making pie!
Now that I have taken the plunge into this new and exciting way of using the incredible-edible as I know it will never be the same! My mind is just racing with all the flavorful combinations that can be used in The Quiche. To start us out, here is the very lean version of Paula Deen's Spinach and Bacon Quiche; the recipe that helped me to overcome this once intimidating dish.

Makes 8 Servings


1-1/2 cups Reduced-Fat Mozzarella, shredded
6 pieces Canadian bacon, chopped
2 cups chopped baby spinach, packed
Salt and Pepper to taste
1-1/2 cup Egg Beaters
1-1/2 cup light cream


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine egg beaters, cream and salt & pepper. Mix well. Lightly spray the pie dish with nonfat cooking spray. Layer the spinach, Canadian bacon and cheese in the bottom of the pie dish. Pour the egg mixture on top. Bake for 35-45 minutes. The egg mixture will be set when complete. Cut quiche into 8 wedges.


Success! Everyone loved it! I made it in the evening so that we could heat it up for breakfast in the morning, but we ended up eating it for dinner instead. It just smelled and looked too good to resist. It started with "just a taste" and ended up with a full slice. Breakfast for dinner is fun every now and then.

Overall, this dish is a nutritional super-star! It is low in fat and cholesterol, low-carb diet friendly and loaded with healthy baby green spinach. It doesn't get much better than that. Did I mention that it is also delicious? Well, it is!

If you compare this recipe to Paula's, you will see that I left out the pie crust, subbed Canadian bacon for real bacon and switched to a low-fat cheese. The egg substitutes made a tremendous difference by dropping the fat content in the eggs from 30 grams to 0! Talk about some trimming! Just for fun, here is a fat gram comparison of the amounts for the entire quiche, before and after it received the lean treatment. The numbers are almost scary! See for yourself.

INGREDIENT             BEFORE                           AFTER
Egg                                 30g                                      0g
Bacon                             42g                                      6g
Crust                               56g                                     0g
Cheese                             28g                                    20g
Cream                            120g                                    60g
TOTAL FAT                276g                                      86g      SAVINGS = 190g or about 24 g/serving!

Seeing is believing! Little changes make a big difference in everything but the flavor. ENJOY!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Moroccan Couscous

Healthy grains such as couscous, quinoa, risotto and rice should always be on hand in the pantry. Alone, they are a simple side dish. But add a few extra easy ingredients and this dish is now taking center stage on your dinner plate!
The possibilities for healthy grains are endless when you start thinking about adding other ingredients to the mix. Preparing grains strictly by the box instructions is so last season. If you aren't doing it already, it is time to give them a fresh look for 2010. Look at what Paula Deen inspired me to do with box of blended grains. That woman is such a trendsetter! After this, I don't think I'll ever be able to serve plain grains again! Check it out!

Makes 4 to 6 Servings


1 tablespoon Smart Balance Olive Oil-Butter Blend
1 shallot, sliced
1 package Near East Whole Grain Blend, Flavor: Roasted Garlic
1 tablespoon seasoning from box packet
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups low-sodium/Fat Free chicken broth
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds


In a large saucepan, heat the butter blend over medium-high heat. Add shallot and grain blend. Cook until brown, stirring frequently (about 4 minutes). Stir in cinnamon stick, cumin and 1 tablespoon of seasoning packet. Slowly stir in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cover; reduce heat. Simmer about 10 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove and throw away cinnamon stick. Remove the grain blend from the stove and stir in almonds and cranberries.

* If you are using a plain grain blend, add 2 cloves of minced garlic to the saucepan, along with the shallot and grain blend.


This dish covers many of the flavors and textures found in food. There is salty and sweet contrast, along with the crunchy and chewy one too. This dish has a wonderful combination that really changed my perspective on the potential of grains. Paula Deen uses couscous in her original recipe, but I choose the grain blend (A) because that is what I had at home already and (B) it has just a couple small nutritional advantages over couscous...if we are going to be picky. But really, it is up to you. My thoughts are that this recipe would work beautifully with any form of grain. If you end up trying it with something other than a grain blend, please let me know. I'd love to hear about it! Just remember, when choosing grains, pick "whole" over "refined".
Adding cooked, chopped chicken to this dish or serving it with a green salad would make Moroccan Grains the perfect meal.
What I love about this is that it is easy and a change to the mundane-grain. I hope you decided to give it a go. ENJOY!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 217.17 calories;  7.96g fat;  30.94g carbohydrate;  6.09g protein;  4.35g fiber

One more thing. I must apologize for the pictures. Our camera is acting up and we had to use the phone to take pics. Awful! I need to make this again soon so you will have a better visual representation of this fabulous dish. So sorry. Thanks!

**Paula Deen's Moroccan Couscous can be found on page 30 in the January/February 2010 issue of Cooking with Paula Deen. Published by Hoffman Media, LLC.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Beef and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Horseradish Mayonnaise

Grilled cheese is usually the go-to in my house when there is nothing else to eat. No matter how empty the fridge or pantry, you can be certain to find enough cheese and bread to grill up some kind of sandwich. Now, it is not necessarily a bad thing to be forced to "settle" for grilled cheese. Grilled cheese is one of my favorites! And what I like most about this classic is that it comes in so many varieties. Changing the bread, cheese or special sauce can create a totally new and unique grilled cheese eatin' experience.

This particular recipe is inspired by Paula Deen's Beef and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from the January/February 2010 issue of Cooking with Paula Deen. As usual, just a few simple changes allow this heavy sandwich to be welcome on any light menu. See for yourself...

Serves 4


1/2 cup Hellmann's Light Mayonnaise Dressing
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
8 slices whole grain bread (Such as Sara Lee Delightful 100% Whole Wheat)
16 slices 96% Fat Free Roast Beef (deli sliced)
4 slices Reduced-Fat Provolone Cheese
2 cups arugula
Fat Free cooking spray

On the Side:
1 can Campbell's Heatlhy Request Tomato Soup (optional)


Preheat griddle or non-stick skillet to medium-low heat.

In a small bowl, mix the mayo, mustard and horseradish. Spread the mixture evenly over one side of each piece of bread. Top half of the prepared bread slices evenly with arugula, roast beef and cheese. Top each with remaining bread slices, mayo side down.

Spray lightly with FAT FREE cooking spray. Place sandwiches, spray side down, on the heated skillet or griddle. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.


So wonderful! The horseradish mayo really makes it! All the flavors work really well together, creating a very unique twist to the classic grilled cheese. Here's how I knew it was good. Even served along side a cup of tomato soup, I overcame the urge to dip. The thought of changing the taste of the sandwich was just too much. You really have to see, or taste, for yourself. Every bite tastes like you are breaking some rule or diet plan. are only guilty of having a healthy, delicious, reduced-fat meal that tastes amazing. ENJOY!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving):  217.5 calories;  5.93g fat;  21.43g carbohydrate;  17.08g protein;  6.6g fiber

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Breakfast in a Cup

I'm so sorry if you were hoping that this was a new recipe for making a skinny caramel vanilla latte. Believe it or not, our bodies need a little more nourishment than the coffee bean can provide. Now, let's not get crazy and toss the coffee cup just yet. This new twist on Paula Deen's Breakfast in a Cup will provide a low-fat, filling breakfast that goes great along with your favorite morning beverage.

Makes 1 Serving


For Grits-
1 pack Quaker Oats Instant Grits (butter flavored)

For Scrambled Eggs-
1 egg
1 egg white
1 tablespoon Fat Free sour cream
1 tablespoon Fat Free Milk
pepper to taste

For Meat:
3 pieces of Canadian bacon

1-2 tablespoons 2% shredded cheddar cheese


Prepare the grits according to package directions, using water.

To scramble eggs, start with a pan heating at medium heat. Crack one whole egg and one egg white into a small bowl. Add pepper, milk and sour cream. Wisk together. Spray pan with fat free cooking spray and pour mixture into the pan. Use a spoon to scramble.

To cook Canadian bacon, either microwave according to directions on the packaging or fry in a small pan; using fat free cooking spray, of course. Chop when cooked.

To put it all together, begin by spooning the grits into the mug. Then, add the chopped Canadian bacon as the second layer. Next, add the scrambled eggs. And finally, load up the top with shredded cheese. For a little extra flare, add some parsley to garnish.


This is another one of those dishes that doesn't really get justice by looking at the picture. I chose a glass mug so that you can see the layers, but it kind of looks like a pile of mush. No fears, it is delicious!
This recipe really appealed to me because it is served in a cup. Since high school, I have been throwing my breakfast into a cup as I run out the door.  I remember my friends saying, "There's Lindsay with her breakfast cup again? Watcha got in there today?" Some things never change.
It's just easy and it conveniently fits into my car cup holder. Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it shouldn't be neglected. Even if you don't have time to sit down and enjoy a big breakfast, this doesn't mean that you are left with only shakes and bars. Fitting all that goodness into a cup allows us to eat the way we want to, if we only had the time. No more excuses. There is time for breakfast again! Try this  great alternative to fast food, shakes and breakfast bars!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 298 calories;  8.32g fat;  25.53g carbohydrate;  30.25g protein; 1.2g fiber

**Looking to cut some fat? Use 1/2 cup egg substitute (Egg Beaters) in place of egg and egg white. Saves 5g fat.


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