Category Archives: Light and Healthy

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

I’ve been seeing pictures of stuffed squash blossoms in the foodie world for a while now, and I’ve been intrigued.  I love squash and really had no idea what in the world this might taste like.  So when my brother-in-law planted a ton of squash, I kept my fingers crossed that I could persuade him to let me have some blossoms.  And he did!

I found a recipe in Cooking Light for the stuffed blossoms, and that magazine has never steered me wrong so I went with it.  They are stuffed with a homemade pimiento cheese, how yum!  I love pimiento cheese, but only if it’s homemade.  The store-bought junk is awful so if you think you don’t like it, and that’s all you ever had, then try again.  This recipe was pretty easy to make, I think it makes a difference to roast the peppers yourself, rather than the jarred kind.  The blossoms themselves really didn’t have much of a taste, they were primarily a vehicle for serving up that delicious pimiento cheese!  This would be a great (visually impressive) appetizer for a small dinner party.

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms
Recipe from Cooking Light, June 2013

Ingredients:
1 small red bell pepper, halved and seeded
1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp. minced green onions
1 tbsp. mayo
1/2 tsp hot sauce (I used Tabasco garlic flavor)
dash of ground red pepper
2.5 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a Cabot Vermont white)
1 slice bacon, cooked and crumbled
8 fresh squash blossoms, thoroughly washed

Method:

Set the broiler to high and place the bell pepper halves skin side up on a pan covered with foil and sprayed with nonstick spray.  Broil until they are blackened, then place in a paper bag, closed well for five minutes.  (I had never heard of this approach but it worked well!)  Peel the blackened skin off and dice the bell pepper.

In a bowl, combine the diced bell pepper and all of the rest of the ingredients (except the squash blossoms) until well-mixed.  VERY carefully (use a very small spoon) stuff the mixture into the squash blossoms and serve.

Pan-Seared Balsamic Tender Baby Squash

I think the title of the recipe takes longer to say than it took my husband and I to eat this entire dish.  I cooked this with every intention of having it as a nice little side dish.  Sometimes things don’t go as planned – it ended up being done earlier than the other dishes, and I tasted it.  Then I said “oh James, taste this, it’s so good!”  And within minutes, all the squash was gone.  I can’t blame him though, I had a part in its’ demise.

We are members of a local CSA (crop share) and with each weeks’ produce, they give a recipe on how to use some of the stuff.  I try to use their recipes because they are usually quite tasty, and this was no exception.  The little baby squash were just perfect.  I should note that I did use this recipe for regular squash and it was just as good, you just might need to add a little more balsamic vinegar.  This is a great side dish, if it lasts that long!

Pan-Seared Balsamic Tender Baby Squash

Pan-Seared Balsamic Tender Baby Squash

Pan-Seared Balsamic Tender Baby Squash
Recipe from Inglewood Farms

Ingredients:
1 bag (about a pound?) squash
1 bunch green onions, chopped
olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar (more if desired)

Method:

Gently wash and dry the squash, cut in half lengthwise.  If using fully grown squash, you can cut it into circles.  Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, then place the squash in it, pressing down gently with the spatula to sear the bottom.  When all squash are brown, sprinkle salt and toss to coat.  Add the balsamic vinegar and green onions and let it reduce, coating the squash.

Pan-Seared Balsamic Tender Baby Squash

Pan-Seared Balsamic Tender Baby Squash

 

Orange Chicken with Asparagus

Pinterest.  Who is addicted, raise your hands!  Me, Me, Me!  I think I’d have to live to be 300 to make all the things I’ve pinned.  But I’m slowly working my way through!  One thing I couldn’t wait to try was Orange Chicken with Asparagus.  Fitness magazine called it one of their Flat Belly Foods.  Sounds good to me.

My mother-in-law is always talking about how much she loves orange chicken so Mrs. Aubrita I hope you try this and like it!  Sure, it’s not the same as what you would get in a restaurant, those places usually deep fry and use things like corn syrup to make the sauces.  This was a very light version, but it was so flavorful!  I think it’ll definitely satisfy the craving when you don’t want to use those calories for the real deal.

Orange Chicken with Asparagus

Orange Chicken with Asparagus

Orange Chicken with Asparagus
Recipe from Fitness

Ingredients:
1 tbsp sesame oil
4 oz. chicken, sliced into 1/2 inch strips
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cups chopped asparagus (I used frozen and thawed)
1 can Straw mushrooms
1 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce (I ignored that and used Tabasco brand)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sesame seeds
juice and zest of one orange
brown rice or fried rice for serving with

Method:

In a large skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium heat.  Saute’ the chicken, garlic and red pepper flakes for 7 minutes or until cooked through.  Add the asparagus and mushrooms, cook three additional minutes.  In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, sesame seeds and juice and zest of the orange.  Add to the skillet and cook another minute.  Serve with the rice.

Chicken Spaghetti

I recently went on a road trip/girls weekend with some friends and like all good Southern girls, we talked about food at lot!  One of the dishes discussed was chicken spaghetti.  We didn’t even talk long about it, but it stuck in my head and I started craving it!

After about a week I decided I wanted some so I went online to find a recipe.  I found one on Cooking Light and it sounded interesting, a little different.  I didn’t buy all of the different types of mushrooms it called for and just used a packet of regular button mushrooms, and it worked just fine.  It was so delicious, it was one of those things that I couldn’t wait until lunch the next day to eat some leftovers!

 

Chicken Spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients:
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti (I used whole grain)
kosher salt
extra-virgin olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 pkg. mushrooms
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups reduced fat milk
4 oz. cubed Velveeta cheese
3 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
2 oz. shredded Gruyère cheese (about a half cup)
1.5 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup finely chopped chives
Bread crumbs for topping

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente (or to your liking).  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside, drain the rest of the water off of the pasta and rinse with cold water.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp oil and chicken, season with salt and pepper and saute’ until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken, add the butter and the mushrooms and garlic.  Lightly salt the mushrooms and saute’ three minutes, or until softening.  Add the flour and stirring constantly, saute’ for one minute.

Gradually add the reserved pasta water, broth and milk to the pan, stirring constantly and bring back to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook for one minute, until it thickens slightly.  Stir in the Velveeta and cream cheese, remove from heat and continue stirring until smooth.  Add the Gruyère, stir in well.  Add the pasta, chicken, peas and chives and toss to coat and mix well.  Scrape mixture into a greased oven-safe 9×13 baking dish then sprinkle bread crumbs over the top.

Bake until the bread crumbs start to brown and is heated through.

 

Seared Scallops with White Beans and Spinach

I’m really lucky in love. I have the man of my dreams and luckily for me, he is an adventurous eater. A lot of people won’t try new things but both of us like to. I’m always seeing pictures of scallops and they look so good but I was always scared. I finally decided to get over it and just try a recipe.

Before cooking, I did a little research that told me that scallops need to be dry before cooking. They emit a lot of water, particularly previously frozen kind, which is what I used. I thawed them, rinsed and patted dry, then I set a little stack of paper towels on a plate, placed scallops on it, put more towels on top with another plate sitting on top to push some of that water out. Worked perfectly and the scallops got a nice sear. We really loved this dish, I’m going to be making it again soon, and maybe trying some other recipes as well.

Seared Scallops with White Beans and Spinach

Seared Scallops with White Beans and Spinach

Seared Scallops with White Beans and Spinach
Recipe from Women’s Health

Ingredients:
2 strips bacon, chopped into pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cans white beans (cannellini or Great Northern), rinsed and drained
4 cups baby spinach
1 lb. large sea scallops
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter
juice of 1 lemon

Method:

In a medium saucepan, cook the bacon over low heat. Once crisp, add the onion and garlic, cook until softened. Add the beans and spinach and cook until the spinach has wilted. Keep warm.

Over medium-high heat, heat a large cast-iron skillet. Blot your scallops dry with a paper towel and season on each side. Add the butter to the pan and sear the scallops on each side, about three minutes each until they have a nice caramelized crust.

Add the lemon juice to the beans and serve topped with scallops.

Quick and Easy Salsa

I love chips and dip, it’s one of my favorite snacks.  Every time I would go to my friend Kelly’s house, she would have this super yummy salsa.  Finally I asked her to send me the recipe and it was a link to a blog.  I made it.  And the next day I made it again.

This recipe really IS quick and easy.  The ingredients are inexpensive, something you can keep in your pantry to pull out for a last-minute appetizer.  It takes literally minutes to make.  And it’s quite tasty.  It says it’s a copycat recipe for the Chili’s salsa, and it may be.  I don’t eat there often enough these days to compare, but I do love this one!  Thanks for sharing, Kelly!

Quick and Easy Salsa

Quick and Easy Salsa
Recipe from:  Six Sisters Stuff

Ingredients:
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, drained
1 small can (4 oz.) diced jalapenos
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp salt (or 1/2, depending on taste)
1 tsp cumin
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp sugar

Method:

Add all ingredients to a medium-sized bowl.  Using an immersion blender, puree until the consistency is to your liking.  Alternately, you could put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it is to your liking.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Lentil & Spinach Curry

I’ve never been a big fan of beans, or anything of the like (except for green beans and bbq beans), but I’ve been trying to change that lately.  I am now a fan of black beans and lentils (I know it probably isn’t technically a bean?).  While I am a new fan of lentils, I’m a cautious fan.  I’m not completely on board, unless it’s something that sounded really REALLY good.  Like lentil & spinach curry.

I love curry.  There is an Indian restaurant in Baton Rouge that an old roommate used to bring me to and I just loved it.  I took my now hubby there and lucky for me, he loved it too.  I don’t know why we don’t cook it more often, I think we’ll have to change that.  This meal came together really quickly and was pretty healthy for you (and cheap too!).  The vegetable base it called for was a little tricky to find (I found it at Albertson’s) and a bit on the pricey side, but if you can find it I think it’s worth it.  It’s basically vegetable bouillon but you can tell that it has a bit more richness and seasoning to it.  But if you can’t find it, regular vegetable bouillon should do the trick.  I also added peanut butter, which was NOT in the recipe.  Gotta love my husband, he didn’t even bat an eye when I said “I think peanut butter would go nicely in this!”  He taste-tested and agreed with me!  But that’s your call.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Lentil & Spinach Curry

Lentil & Spinach Curry
Recipe adapted from Food and Whine

Ingredients:
2 cups lentils
3 cups water
2 tsp vegetable base (I used organic Better Than Bouillon in a jar)
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3-5 tsp curry powder, depending on your taste (we like a lot!)
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp sugar
1 10 oz. frozen spinach, cooked and drained
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 spoons peanut butter (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

Rinse lentils in cold water, then combine with 3 cups of water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Once it comes to a boil, add the vegetable base and stir in.  Cover and simmer 20-25 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

While that’s cooking, heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add the onions and garlic, cook until soft.  Add the grated ginger, let cook for a minute before adding the rest of the spices.  Once fragrant, add the spinach, crushed tomatoes and lentils (I didn’t add all of the lentils, probably about 3/4 of them).  Add salt, pepper and peanut butter (if desired) and mix in well and allow to heat through.

Serve over rice, with some naan if you have it!

 

Crockpot Lentil Soup

I’ve never been a big fan of beans so lately I’ve been trying to “train” myself to like them.  It’s working.  I’m now a fan of black beans, so I figured I’d branch out some and bought a package of lentils.  I see lots of recipes for lentils, so after looking through some I decided to go with a crockpot recipe.

This was super easy to make, you just throw everything into the crockpot.  It is very hearty, despite being a meat-free soup.  If you’re wondering, lentils are very earthy, they sort of remind me of black-eyed peas, just with a different texture.  In fact, this soup reminded me a lot in taste of the black-eyed pea soup I make.  My husband was skeptical he loved it, so did my three-year old daughter.  It makes  a ton, so you can freeze some for a rainy day!

Crockpot Lentil Soup

Crockpot Lentil Soup
Recipe adapted from I Was Born to Cook

Ingredients:
1 pkg dry lentils, rinsed and drained
1 can sliced carrots, with juice
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Italian seasonings
2 bay leaves
7 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
6-8 shakes of hot sauce

Instructions:

Place all ingredients in a crock pot.  Cook on LOW for 12 hours or HIGH for 5-6 hours.  Discard bay leaves and serve.

Mozzarella and Onion Stuffed Bread

Some foods just go together, you can’t have one without the other.  Perfect example?  Pasta and bread.  For the bachelorette party, I was serving crawfish fettuccine but I needed the perfect bread to serve with it, and the search was over once I saw this recipe.

This was incredibly easy to make, and it was phenomenal.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that I got it from a Trim & Terrific cookbook, each slice was relatively low cal!  The only change I would make next time is to add some minced garlic or garlic powder, it would have been great with that.  Make this next time you need a yummy bread as a side dish!

Mozzarella and Onion Stuffed Bread

Mozzarella and Onion Stuffed Bread
Recipe adapted from Holly Clegg’s Trim & Terrific – Home Entertaining the Easy Way

Ingredients:
1 loaf Italian or French Bread, (1 lb)
6 tbsp margarine
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp Dijon mustard
dash of hot pepper sauce (I used Sriracha)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Make 1-inch diagonal slices in the bread, making sure not to cut all the way through the bottom crust.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add the onion (and minced garlic if you decide to add that) and cook until soft.  Remove from heat and stir in the mustard and hot sauce.  Mix in the cheese.
  • Spoon the mixture between each slice of the bread and a little on top.  Bake on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes, until bread is golden and cheese is melted.

136 calories per slice

Mozzarella & Onion Stuffed Bread

Lightened Up Crawfish Fettuccine

As you probably read in my last post, my brother-in-law (hubby’s brother) is getting married soon and last weekend was the bachelor/bachelorette party.  The guys went to Dallas for some surprisingly tame fun (or so they say – wink, wink).  Us girls stayed here in town and did a painting class then had a lingerie shower for the bride at my house.  When I started planning out the food for the shower, I was looking at it as a big chance to cheat on my diet.

But for once, I’m doing really well on this diet.  I mean hey, it’s February 1 and I’m still ON IT!  That’s a record breaker right there!  I stuck with the basic bones of the menu, but looked for lightened up versions of the recipes.  The recipe I found for crawfish fettuccine was fantastic, a few of the guests at the shower were feeling guilty for getting seconds, until I told them that it was a lower-calorie version.  Nobody could believe it.  So if you’re looking for a nice dish to celebrate a special occasion, or just because it’s a Friday, then here ya go.  I think this would be equally delicious with cooked shrimp or chicken as the protein.

Crawfish Fettuccine

Crawfish Fettuccine
Recipe from The New Holly Clegg Trim and Terrific Cookbook

Ingredients:
1 lb fettuccine pasta, cooked and rinsed under cool water
1 lb. crawfish tails, rinsed
1/4 cup margarine
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1.5 cups skim milk
1.5 lb. light Velveeta
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a large pot, melt the margarine and saute’ the onion, bell pepper and garlic until tender, about five minutes.  Stir in the flour until mixed and allow to cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly.  Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring until smooth.  Add the cheese, stirring until evenly melted and then add the crawfish, parsley, salt, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Taste for seasonings then add the pasta, tossing to coat.   Transfer to a baking dish coated with nonstick spray and bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through.
  • Serve immediately.

8-10 servings at 378 calories each.