Friday, June 29, 2012

Cooking Light with Emeril Lagasse: Cheesy Grits

When I think about traditionally southern dishes, grits always come to mind. Some people love 'em, some people hate 'em and for some people like just depends on what you are smotherin' them with. Cheesy grits? Yep! I was up for that. Anything with cheese is at least getting one shot with me.

Kimber and I were visiting my Mom, Dad and brother in Charlotte over Father's Day this month. My Dad's request for dinner was as follows: ribeyes, roasted asparagus and cheesy grits! Mom and I thought this would be a great opportunity to try this classic southern side with a cookin' lean spin. Looking at the ingredients list, we knew right away there were ways to lighten it up. So we did and they turned out great! Even if you think you don't like yourself this. Do you like cheese? Do you like bacon? Then you will like these!! Pair 'em with steak or shrimp for a perfect combination.

Here is our take on Emeril's Cheesy Grits. Find his original recipe HERE on Food Network.

Makes 6 Servings

  • 4 cups water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt; divided
  • 1-1/2 cups old fashioned or quick cooking grits (not instant)
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 1 cup FAT FREE half-and-half
  • 4 tablespoons "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup REDUCED FAT shredded white cheddar
  • Optional, yet strongly recommended garnish: diced scallions  (green onions) & 3 cooked, crumbled slices of center cut bacon

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the grits and a teaspoon of salt to the water and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.

When the grits thicken, add the milk, half-and-half and "ICBINB" and return to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the saucepan and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the grits are tender, smooth and creamy.

With what is left of the salt and pepper, season the grits according to what your taste buds are tellin' ya. If the grits are too runny, allow them to cook a little longer. Leave the saucepan uncovered and stir frequently. They will thicken up eventually... just give 'em a little time. When they are thick like you like 'em, fold the shredded white cheddar into the grits, and keep covered and warm until ready to use.

Divide into 6 individual bowls and top with bacon and scallions. Dig in!


Nutrition Facts (per serving):
"After" calculations are done with bacon topping. Even with...check out the savings!

Before ~ 565.5 calories / 42.1g fat / 34.7g carbohydrate / 23.79g protein / .45g fiber
After ~ 310 calories / 11.78g fat / 37.3g carbohydrate / 13.49g protein / .45g fiber

Saves ~ 255.5 calories AND  30.32g fat

Give this southern side a try and let us know what you think!

Thanks for the help with this, Mom.

Enjoy everyone!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cooking Light with Giada De Laurentiis: Fettuccine Alfredo (with Chicken & Broccoli)

Thanks to a little email from a member of the Cookin' Lean community, I was inspired to take a stab at lightening up a classic, buttery and cheesy Italian dish---Fettuccine Alfredo! My guide for this recipe was the Queen of Italian Cuisine on the Food Network....Giada De Laurentiis. Here is my Cookin' Lean, and loaded with protein, take on her Fettuccine Alfredo.

Serves 4

  • 8 ounces Vegetable Fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose four
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups FAT FREE Half & Half
  • 2 tablespoons FAT FREE PHILADELPHIA cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup KRAFT REDUCED FAT grated Parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • Ground pepper
  • 2 6-8oz. boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 12oz. bag Steamfresh Broccoli Florets

For the sauce... Melt the ICBINB in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and lemon zest; cook for about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the FAT FREE half & half. While whisking constantly, add the salt. After about 3 minutes, it should be just thickened, making it time to add the cream cheese and Parmesan cheese. Whisk until melted, about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped parsley.

While making the sauce, boil the fettuccine in a large pot of salted water. Follow directions on the pasta box to attain the pasta texture you desire. When finished, drain and set aside in a large serving bowl or return to pot.

**If adding chicken and broccoli to the dish, grill the chicken until cooked thoroughly and steam the broccoli in Steamfresh microwavable bag for 5 minutes. Slice cooked chicken. Add cooked broccoli and chicken to the pasta.

Add sauce to the pasta, chicken and broccoli; tossing gently until everything is thoroughly covered with sauce.

Divide into 4 bowls and top with additional Parmesan and parsley, if desired.


Nutrition Facts (per serving): Nutrition facts for original recipe are based on 6 servings. Original suggests serving 6-8.

Before ~ 1,071 calories/ 71.5g fat/ 95.4g carbohydrate/ 29g protein/ 4.4g fiber
After ~ 478.3 calories/ 7.8g fat/ 65g carbohydrate/ 41.1g protein/ 8.3g fiber

SAVES ~  592.7 calories / 63.7g fat / 30.4g carbs

ADDS ~ 12.1g protein & 3.9g fiber

To make this recipe a bit more waistline friendly, I reduced the amount of pasta and added more nutrition in the form of lean chicken and broccoli. The protein in the chicken will help to keep you feeling full and satisfied longer than just pasta alone; making you less likely to raid the ice cream freezer later in the evening! Overall, this dish will satisfy your craving for rich pasta without sacrificing your commitment to cookin' lean. Enjoy!!


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