Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Healthy Can Be Easy and Delicious!

From a Chemical Pie to a Healthy Alternative

I love to transform "dirty" recipes into healthy and natural recipes. This pie was the perfect candidate. The original recipe is from Jif Peanut Butter and my changes are listed along side in red.
By the way, the change was just as delicious as the original and I got rave reviews from everyone who tried it, even the skeptics. Go healthy-your body will thank you!!

Decadent Peanut Butter Pie
by Jif Peanut Butter
1 prepared chocolate cookie pie crust, or a natural chemical free prepared graham crust(from Whole Foods)

1 cup JIF Creamy Peanut Butter, or a natural brand without the partially hydrogenated fat(trans fat), high fructose corn syrup, or preservatives

8 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature), or a low-fat cream cheese, or Soy cream cheese which has much less saturated fat than even the low-fat cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar,
or pure unrefined organic sugar

4 1/2 cups (12 oz. container) of non-dairy whipped topping, divided, or a natural brand if there is such a thing (I'll be looking for it next time), if not maybe light whipped cream(preferably organic)

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, my recommendation if using the soy cream cheese

1-11.75 oz. jar SMUCKER'S Hot Fudge Ice Cream Toppings, divided, or a natural brand without all the chemicals and preservatives

2 Tbs. SMUCKER'S Hot Fudge and 2 Tbs. JIF Peanut Butter, or a natural alternatives

In a medium bowl, beat together the Peanut Butter, cream cheese and sugar. Gently fold in 3 cups whipped topping. Spoon mixture into the pie shell. Using a spatula, smooth mixture to edges of pie.

Reserving 2 tablespoons of hot fudge, place remaining hot fudge into microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup. Microwave for 1 minute, or heat in a small saucepan (the microwave is evil). Stir. Spread hot fudge over pie to cover the peanut butter layer. Refrigerate until serving time. Just before serving, spread the remaining whipped topping (1 1/2 cups), over hot fudge layer, being careful not to mix the two layers.

Place the 2 Tbs. hot fudge in a small baggie and knead for a few seconds. Cut a tiny hole in the corner of the bag and drizzle over pie. Do the same with 2 Tbs. Peanut Butter going in the opposite direction of the hot fudge.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Light Chicken Pot Pie

This recipe from Cooking Light came in handy recently when I found myself with some leftover cooked chicken. I loved the idea of using phyllo dough for the crust. A lot of recipes use rich, fattening crusts that taste absolutely delicious, but my thighs may have a different opinion.

Since the phyllo dough is just lightly sprayed with canola oil cooking spray, the calories and fat content are kept in check.

I changed a few ingredients due to the fact that I had different vegetables on hand and opted to use less milk and more chicken broth. One thing that I noticed though, was that the juice was a lot thinner than it should have been and I wonder if is because of the change I had made. It's easy correct anyway, just add a little more flour.

Chicken Pot Pie

by Cooking Light

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups diced red potato (about 1 pound), I omitted the potatoes
2 cups diced onion, I used shallots
2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 8 ounces), I omitted the mushrooms
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup chopped green beans, my addition
1 cup chopped broccoli spears and florets, my addition
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, I used 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, I should have increased this to 3 tablespoons
3 cups fat-free milk, I used 2 cups 1% milk
1/2 cup fat-free, less sodium chicken broth, I used 1 1/2 cups
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 12 ounces)
1 cup frozen green peas, I used 2 cups
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 (14 x 9-inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; add oil. Add potatoes and next 6 ingredients (through thyme), and saute for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low; sprinkle flour over vegetables. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in milk and broth. Increase heat to medium-high; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until thickened. Add chicken, peas, salt and pepper.

Spoon mixture into a 2 quart baking dish. Place 1 phyllo sheet on a large cutting board or work surface (cover remaining dough to keep from drying); lightly spray with cooking spray. Repeat layers with cooking spray and remaining phyllo. Place phyllo layers loosely on top of mixture in dish. Place dish on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until top is golden. Yield 6 servings.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats

These treats are truly ageless!

Everyone loves crispy rice treats. This version uses peanut butter and corn syrup instead of marshmallows. They are really yummy and so easy to make. I would suggest using natural peanut butter, so as to avoid the partially hydrogenated oils that most brand name peanut butters contain.

Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 jar natural peanut butter
6 cups crispy rice cereal
1 teaspoon vanilla
cooking spray

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
Bring the corn syrup and sugar to a boil in a large pan. Stir in the peanut butter. Remove pan from the heat. Add the vanilla and rice cereal. Stir the mixture until all the cereal is coated evenly.
Spoon the mixture into the baking dish. Spread the mixture evenly, pressing down into the pan with the palm your hand (
wear an oven mit) using a piece of wax paper. Let cool for about an hour and cut into squares.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Product Review- The Good, The Bad and The Ugly...

I discovered this product recently on one of my many trips to Whole Foods (I'll discuss this at another time). It is pretty much a candy bar (they call it a wellness bar), but it's all natural and it has healthful active cultures in it. In fact, Attune claims to have more than 5 times the live active cultures in yogurt. Pretty impressive!

What about the taste? They are really good. The Chocolate Crisp Bar is just like eating a chocolate crunch candy bar. It is small though, it has only two squares and is 100 calories per bar with 4 grams of saturated fat. Which isn't bad for a quick snack to satisfy your chocolate craving. I also tried the Blueberry Vanilla Bar and that was good as well.

There is also a Yogurt Granola Bar in several flavors. I only tried the Lemon Crème. Yup, liked that one t0o. It is more like a luna bar than a candy bar and has more calories- 180 and 3 grams of saturated fat.

So in conclusion, I give them 2 thumbs up! And just in case you can't find them in the store here is the website where you can order them.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Italian Street Food Made Healthy!

This is classic Italian street vendor food. The only difference is that when you purchase it, the quality will never be the same as when you make it yourself. This homemade version uses turkey sausage and is baked instead of fried. You can eat it in a big Italian roll as a sandwich or just as is, either way, I think you'll be satisfied!

Healthy Oven Fried Sausage, Onions and Potatoes

1 package of turkey sausage
1 large onion or 3-4 shallots (which is what I used), sliced
3-4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes
Cooking oil spray
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and spray with cooking oil. Place turkey sausage on baking sheet and spray with cooking oil. Bake for 20 minutes until brown on all sides, turning every 5 minutes.
Let the sausage cool and slice each into about 4-5 pieces. Set aside.

Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Place the sliced onions and potatoes on the baking sheet and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Toss together to coat everything evenly. Bake for around 20-25 minutes, stirring half way through until golden brown. Remove from the oven. Add the sliced sausage to the potatoes and onions, toss and bake for another 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss to evenly coat the entire mixture. Serve as is or in a hollowed out Italian loaf or roll. Serves 4-6

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mom's Apple Pie

Need I Say More??

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sort of a frittata -Not quite a quiche

It's something in between...

My inspiration for this dish came from a Chicken and Orzo Frittata by Giada DeLaurentiis. Even though Giada calls it a frittata, it really isn't (technically). The traditional way to cook a frittata is in saute pan. Traditionally, the egg mixture is poured into the saute pan and cooked until set on the bottom and then it is flipped onto a plate and transferred back into the pan.

The easier way, however, is to cook the bottom of the frittata in the saute pan and then cook the top under the broiler. Which is what I usually do. This recipe is cooked more like a quiche, where the egg mixture is poured into a pie plate or baking dish and baked in the oven. Unlike a quiche, though, there is no crust. It is pretty easy to make, especially if you have leftover veggies, pasta, chicken, etc. in the fridge.

I stuck with just veggies for this one, but you could add almost anything you like.

Vegetable Friche (sort of a frittata, not quite a quiche)
6 eggs
1/3 cup low fat cream cheese
1/8 cup greek yogurt
2 cups leftover roasted veggies (I had mushrooms, olives, artichokes, green beans, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower)
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl combine the eggs, cream cheese and yogurt. Stir until the eggs are beaten and the ingredients are combined. Add the veggies, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish or a large pie plate. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn on the broiler. Place the pan under the broiler until golden on top, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let set for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve with a side salad.

Lobster Ravioli

There's a place in Providence, RI on Federal Hill (Providence's Little Italy) called Venda Ravioli that is famous for its, well ravioli. It started out as a very small family run pasta making business and has grown leaps and bounds since. Now they have a large Italian gourmet grocery section, prepared entrees, a full-service deli, where you can find all sorts of imported italian meats, cold cuts, dried sausage, cheese, olives and the like. They even have an indoor cafe and and outdoor eating area as well as a first class restaurant called Costantino's Ristorante & Caffe.

They still make the pasta from scratch and it is often served at many of the local Italian restaurants on the hill and elsewhere. I have tried the spinach and ricotta ravioli, the tri-colored tortellini, fresh fettuccini and most recently, the lobster ravioli. My brother bought them for my mom for Mother's Day because she loves lobster. You can order them online right from their website. They are frozen and kept that way right up to the point of cooking.

First let me say that I am not a lobster afficianado. I enjoy it from time to time, but it is not my favorite food. With that said, I can tell you that these lobster ravioli ROCK! I cooked them for my mom and topped them with Venda's own Pink Vodka Sauce and it was the perfect compliment.

By the way, the sauce can also be frozen until ready to use (which is what I did) and it was fantastic. As a matter of fact, I still have half a container left, along with the rest of the ravioli. They won't be there for too long! Don't worry mom, I'm saving them for you.