Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cooking Light with Rachael Ray: Tuna Melt Mac n' Cheese

Tuna Noodle Casserole was a weekly dish in my house growing up. Mom loved to make it and we loved to eat it. It was a win-win for the cook and the kids! Tuna Noodle Casserole is now one of those dishes that instantly takes me back to the comforts of childhood. Another dish that has that effect? Mac N' Cheese! Rachael managed to pull two of my childhood favorites into a dish that fits young and mature taste buds alike.

Bring these two classics together in your grown-up kitchen by trying out a lighter version of Rachael's TUNA MELT MAC N' CHEESE! You're gonna love it!

Serves 6

  • 1 pound WHOLE WHEAT elbows with lines
  • 1-1/2 TBSP EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 2 TBSP "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" Light Spread
  • 12 ounces canned tuna, drained
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 to 2 small ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • About 2 1/2 cups NON-FAT/SKIM milk
  • 2 cups grated REDUCED FAT white Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan


    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Cook the pasta to less than al dente, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain and set aside.

    In a large bowl, flake the tuna and add the herbs, onions, mustard, celery, lemon juice, EVOO and some salt and pepper.

    Add the pasta and combine well. Transfer to a baking dish or large casserole dish (or individual baking dishes, as pictured at top).

    In a medium saucepan (or sauce pot), melt 2 tablespoons ICBINB. Whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute. Then whisk in the milk and season with salt and pepper, thicken to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the light white cheddar.

    Pour the sauce evenly over the pasta and tuna. Gently combine with a spoon to settle the sauce.

    Top the casserole with Parm cheese. Bake until golden and hot through (about 10-15 minutes).

    Be sure to watch it; checking frequently after 10 minutes.


    The outcome of this recipe was wonderful! It definitely took me back to my childhood. Now I know I can have the same comforts of the "good ol' days" in a way that fits my nutritional needs of today. Try it out and let me know what you think!

    **If the fat and calories still look a little high for you, you can try using fat-free cheese instead of reduced-fat (or half reduced/half fat-free). That is where you have a little flexibility to make it fit your own cookin' lean standards. Either way, you can't go wrong.

    NUTRITION FACTS (Per Serving)~

    BEFORE~ 885.8 calories / 45.4g fat / 75.5g carbohydrate / 42.3g protein / 4g fiber

    AFTER~ 535 calories / 17g fat / 53g carbohydrate / 39.6g protein / 5.5g fiber

    SAVES~ 350.8 calories / 28.4g fat / 22.5g carbohydrate
    ADDS ~ 1.5g fiber

    Dig in!

    Rachael's Original Recipe for TUNA MELT MAC N' CHEESE.

    Sunday, March 10, 2013

    Cooking Light with Food Network: Apple and Brie Quesadillas

    This blog is all about taking my favorite Food Network star dishes and cookin' them lean. For this post, I am not using a star recipe...but it was featured in Food Network Magazine, which I believe makes it star quality. The truth is that it just looked too flippin' good to pass up! So here it is! My cookin' lean version of a high-end, bowling alley favorite; Lucky Strike's Apple and Brie Quessadillas.

    Recipe adapted from Lucky Strike for Food Network Magazine
    SERVES 4


    • 1 Granny Smith Apple, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" Original Spread
    • 4 8-inch Whole Wheat tortillas
    • 8 ounces LIGHT Brie cheese, sliced (rind removed, if desired)
    • 1 tablespoon whole grain spicy mustard
    • 1 tablespoon light maple syrup
    • 4 tablespoons "Ready to Serve" Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits

    Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. Melt 1/2 tablespoon "ICBINB", then toss the apple pieces and bacon bits in the melted butter and cook, turning occasionally, until apples are tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

    Lay the tortillas on a cutting board. Top each with one-quarter each of the grilled apple/bacon medley and brie on one side, then fold the tortillas in half to cover the filling.

    Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of "ICBINB" in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, cook the quesadillas until golden brown and the cheese melts, about 2 minutes per side.

     Meanwhile, mix the mustard and lite maple syrup in a bowl.

    Slice each quesadilla into wedges. Drizzle with the maple-mustard syrup.


    The major savings in this recipe were incredibly easy. I promise you will feel like you are splurging, not making a lean meal. The flavor is fantastic! We saved by replacing the 4 tbsp of EVOO with just one tbsp of our friend, "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter".  The other big saver was using the light brie in place of the orginal. Let's not forget the calorie saving we get from using light syrup and whole wheat/low-carb tortillas.

    Give this recipe a try and see for yourself how yummy this bowling alley inspired dish really is!

    And check out the calories you will be saving!

    Nutrition Facts(per serving):

    BEFORE~515 calories

    AFTER~  299.75 calories

    SAVES~ 215.25 calories

    If you are looking for an easy dinner or app to throw together...this is it! A little slicing, chopping, sprinkling and stirring and you are looking at a unique twist to a classic everyone loves. Even the kids will love the slightly safisticated taste of this quesadilla. Try it out the next time you are craving something different, but don't have the time to dive into something complicated. Sometimes less is more.


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