Thursday, February 19, 2009

Roasted Chicken with Dried Plums and Shallots

Something Different for a Change...

When I read this recipe I thought, oooh that sounds different. And it certainly was different from my usual chicken dishes. I'm sure some of you are cringing right now at the thought of dried plums (better known as prunes) in a chicken dinner. But I'm telling you, it was pretty good. The dried plums gave just a slight sweet note to the vegetable sauce along with a mellow bite from the garlic... And the caramelized fennel, what can I say except, YUM. If you have never tried caramelized fennel, it is time. If you want to try it for the first time I recommend Roasted Fennel with Parmesan from Giada DeLaurentiis. You will become a fennel-ite, like me! :)

Roasted Chicken with Dried Plums and Shallots
adapted from Cooking Light

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 -2 lb whole chicken breast (about 2 pounds)
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
8 garlic cloves, peeled
4 large shallots, peeled and halved (about 8 ounces)
2 thyme sprigs or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 large fennel bulb, cut into 8 wedges
16 pitted dried plums
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon gravy master

Preheat oven to 400o.

Drizzle oil in a small roasting pan or the bottom of a broiler pan. Place pan in oven 5 minutes or until oil is hot. Sprinkle chicken with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken, skin side down, in pan. Arrange garlic, shallots, thyme sprigs, and fennel around chicken; drizzle remaining 2 teaspoons oil over vegetables and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Bake at 400o for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Turn chicken over; stir vegetables. Add plums to pan. Bake an additional 25 minutes or until chicken is done (160-165o). Remove chicken and vegetable mixture from pan; discard thyme sprigs. Discard skin. Loosely cover chicken and vegetable mixture; keep warm.

Place pan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup broth and wine, stirring to loosen browned bits. Combine flour and remaining 1/4 cup broth, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture to pan; stir until well blended. Bring to a boil; cook for 1 minute or until slightly thick. Stir in gravy master, chopped thyme, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Serve sauce with the chicken and vegetable mixture.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Reduced-Fat Spinach and Turkey Lasagna

Low-Fat Doesn't Have to Mean No Flavor!

Sorry about the crappy picture. I bought a new camera and I'm still trying to figure out all the settings! It is the Cannon Power Shot Sd770 IS Elph. I do like it though, it takes awesome videos. The view screen (I don't know the technical term) is really large. It makes it easier to view the picture after you shoot it. But I digress. So on to the lasagna...

I love lasagna, but I don't make it that often. Mostly because it does take a little time to prepare. Also, because it is heavy and usually full of fat. I have made low-fat lasagnas in the past and they came out fine but nothing to rave about.
This one is different. I think I hit on something here. This lasagna was tasty and hearty but not overly filling or fattening. Plus it was a bit easier to make because I used the no-boil lasagna noodles. It saves a lot of time and aggravation. I used tomato sauce on the top and bottom layers of the lasagna. The garlic bechamel sauce dominates the middle layers, so the flavor is more creamy than a traditional lasagna which uses mostly tomato sauce throughout.

It got all thumbs up from the sometimes picky family, so I hope you give it a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the results!

Reduced-Fat Spinach and Turkey Lasagna
by Mixed Salad Annie

12 sheets of Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 (15 ounce) container low-fat ricotta cheese (I recommend
1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat Italian 3 cheese blend includes mozzarella, provolone and parmesan cheese, divided use (I used Kraft)
3/4 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano cheese, divided use
dash nutmeg
1 package frozen chopped spinach, cooked and squeezed dry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb ground turkey, 93% lean
1 leek, washed thoroughly and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
3 cups reduced-fat garlic bechamel sauce, recipe below
1 (26-27 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce or your own

Preheat oven to 375. Cover a baking sheet with foil and set aside a 13x9x2 pan.

Heat olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until wilted and translucent but not brown; around 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds to one minute. Raise heat to medium high, add turkey, salt, pepper and cook until no longer pink. Remove from heat and add basil. Drain in a colander and set aside.

In bowl, combine beaten eggs, ricotta cheese, 3/4 cups of the shredded cheese, 1/4 cup Romano and nutmeg. Set aside.

Prepare bechemel sauce.

Spread 1/2 of the jar of sauce or 1 1/2 cups your own sauce on bottom of pan.
Layer in order, 4 uncooked lasagna noodles (slightly overlap), then 1/2 of the ricotta cheese mixture, 1/2 of the browned turkey mixture, 1/2 the spinach and 1/2 of the bechamel sauce.

Next layer, 4 uncooked lasagna noodles, remaining 1/2 of the ricotta cheese mixture, remaining half browned turkey mixture, remaining half of the spinach and remaining 1/2 of the bechamel sauce.

Next layer, 4 uncooked lasagna noodles, remaining 1/2 jar of sauce or another 1 1/2 cups of your own sauce, remaining 3/4 cup shredded cheese and remaining 1/2 cup of Romano cheese.
Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray. Cover pan with foil and cook for about 1 hour or until bubbling.
Uncover and continue cooking until all the cheese is melted on the top (about 5 minutes).
Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Reduced-Fat Garlic Bechamel Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups fat-free creamer or skim milk
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
pinch to 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

In a medium saucepan heat creamer/milk until hot but not boiling.

Heat butter, oil and garlic in a medium saucepan until garlic is fragrant. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook over medium heat until the flour mixture turns light golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Slowly add milk to flour mixture; whisk until smooth. Add salt. Bring to a boil and cook for around 6-8 minutes, until sauce thickens. Remove the pan from heat and add nutmeg. Set aside.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Turkey Meatloaf

Needed Garlic...but still good!

I looked on line for a Turkey Meatloaf recipe and ended up making one based on Ina Garten's recipe. I altered it a bit, but for the most part followed most of her ingredients and instructions. One thing it did is cut the recipe in half. Her recipe called for 5 POUNDS of turkey meat. That's one big meatloaf! So I used 2 packages of dark ground turkey which came to 2 1/2 pounds. I also healthied it up a bit by replacing some of the bread crumbs with wheat germ :)

The meatloaf turned out good, only I thought it was missing something... GARLIC. I knew I should have added it, but somehow I thought Ina would have added it if she thought it needed it. So I did'nt. But the next time I make it, you better believe it will have garlic in it. I guess you can't take the Italian out of me, even with something as American as meatloaf :P
Turkey Meatloaf
adapted from Ina Garten

1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large onion)
1 tablespoon EV olive oil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves ( or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
2 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (I will add a little more next time)
3/8 (6 tablespoons) cup low-sodium chicken broth
2-3 cloves minced garlic (should have used, and I will add next time)
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste (I will add a little more next time)
2 1/2 pounds ground dark turkey meat
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (I used 4c seasoned salt-free which is lactose free)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup ketchup
1 talbespoon dijion mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, garlic, olive oil, half the salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, mix the ketshup, mustard and brown sugar; set aside.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, wheat germ, eggs, remaining salt and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and place mixture in a loaf pan to shape. Turn pan upside down on an foil lined sheet pan. Spread the ketchup mixture evenly on top. Bake for 1 hour 20 or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. Let stand for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting. Ina suggests putting a pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf to keep the top from cracking.

Oven Barbecue Chicken Breasts

Dreaming of Summer...

It's only Fevbruary and I've already had it with winter. I am getting sick of all this snow. I really don't mind the cold weather but the snow does start to wear on me after a while. We have already had several major storms and with more in the forecast I can't help thinking of the warm weather. Of course thinking of warm weather often makes me think of summer foods and I started craving some barbecue chicken.

It's a good thing I DVR'd an episode from America's Test Kitchen for Oven Barbecue Chicken. I watched and jotted down all the ingredients and instructions which was kind of a pain but I did not have this recipe in my annuals. I am not displaying the recipe in full, but I will give you a run down on how easy it was.

It is a really good recipe which starts with making your own barbecue sauce. They use the usual ingredients: onion, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, molasses, maple syrup, worchestershire sauce, dijon mustard, chili powder and cheyanne.

The thing I liked about the recipe is that you can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Easy. No butterflying, no pounding, no mess!

It's a unique cooking way of cooking the breasts. First you brown them in an oven proof saute pan. Then using the same pan, you add the barbecue sauce and scrape up the brown bits from the browned chicken. This cooks for about 5 minutes, then you return the chicken to the pan and coat with the sauce.

Next, the chicken goes into the oven for about 12-15 minutes and then under the broiler for another 12-13 minutes until it reaches 160 degrees.

So if you too are sick of winter, put up the heat, throw on some shorts and start cooking all your favorite summer recipes! ;)