Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chickpea & Sausage Minestrone

Soup's on (again)!  This hearty and filling soup has less than 200 calories per 1-1/2 c. serving.  I made this after church one Sunday and it was a perfect winter lunch.


Recipe Notes
Buy pre-diced celery and carrots to save time.  The original recipe calls for chicken stock, but I only had chicken broth, and the taste was still just fine.  This is a spicy and robust soup.  Credit to Cooking Light for the recipe.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 6)
197 calories - 4.7 g. fat - 26.5 g. carbs - 12 g. protein - 4 g. fiber

  • 3/4 c. uncooked small shell pasta
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 (4 oz.) link hot turkey Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 c. diced onion
  • 1 c. diced carrot
  • 1/2 c. diced celery
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 15-oz. can unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 c. chicken stock (or chicken broth, depending on availability)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
1.  Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain and set aside.
2.  While pasta cooks, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add oil to pan and swirl to coat.
3.  Add sausage and cook until lightly browned, stirring to crumble.
4.  Add onion, carrot, celery, parsley, thyme, crushed red pepper, and garlic.  Cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are softened.
5.  Add chickpeas, tomatoes, and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil.
6.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
7.  Stir in shell pasta, salt, and pepper.  Cook one additional minute.
8.  Serve hot with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Sun Dried Tomato Roasted Potatoes

Easy side dish alert!  Jazz up your roasted potatoes with a little sun dried tomato paste.  I like to then roast my potatoes at a low temperature (300 degrees) for longer (between 45-60 minutes) to ensure a soft inside and crispy outside.


Recipe Notes
Sun dried tomato paste can be found in the pasta section of the grocery store in a toothpaste-looking tube.

  • Baby potatoes (I prefer yukon gold) - approx. 2 lbs.
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. sun dried tomato paste
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2.  Line a jelly roll pan with foil and spray generously with cooking spray.
3.  Wash and halve baby potatoes.  Toss with olive oil, tomato paste, salt, and pepper.
4.  Turn potatoes out onto baking sheet.  Roast at 300 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until very tender.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Arugula Salad with Shaved Manchego

This simple homemade salad goes great with a chicken dish or even a nice bowl of chili.  Credit to Martha Stewart for the recipe.


Recipe Notes
You can also substitute in marinated tomatoes for the sun dried tomatoes.  A spinach and arugula salad blend also works well if you can't find straight arugula salad mix.

  • 1-2 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp. white balsamic or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • Baby arugula (12-16 oz.)
  • 1/4-c. oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. shaved Manchego cheese
1.  Prepare dressing: in a large bowl, whisk honey and vinegar until combined.  Whisk in oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
2.  Add arugula and sun dried tomatoes.  Toss to combine.  
3.  Add most of the shaved Manchego, toss further to combine.  Add remaining Manchego to the top prior to serving.  Serve immediately.

Maryland Crab Cakes

This recipe comes from an old Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine.  I really do miss that publication!  These were pretty fast to pull together, albeit expensive because they involve so much crab.  Please note that I halved the original recipe here and it still made 6-7 crab cakes based on the size cake that we typically eat!


Recipe Notes
See original recipe on for details using both large-size and small-size crabmeat.  I used one 16-oz. container of jumbo lump crab from Costco and cut the recipe in half.  The only ingredient that was problematic for halving the recipe was the egg.  Crack the egg into a separate bowl, whisk lightly, and then incorporate 1/2 of the egg/egg white mixture into your crab cake base.  

  • 1 lb. jumbo lump crabmeat
  • 1/4 c. light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Juice of one large lemon, plus wedges (for serving)
  • 1/2 large egg
  • 1-2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 c. fine saltine cracker crumbs (from 12-15 crackers)
  • 1 tbsp. butter, divided
1.  Heat broiler to low.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.  Set aside.
2.  Drain crabmeat and discard any shells or cartilage that you find.
3.  In a large bowl, carefully stir together crab, mayonnaise, parsley, lemon juice, egg, mustard, Old Bay Seasoning, salt, and pepper.
4.  Add cracker crumbs and stir carefully to combine.  
5.  Divide mixture evenly into 4-8 crab cakes (depending on your preferred size).  Place crab cakes onto prepared baking sheet.
6.  Top each cake with a small sliver of butter.
7.  Broil until golden brown (12-15 minutes).
8.  Serve with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Light Lasagna Rolls

I found these in Southern Living and they were delicious.  Light, filling, vegetarian, and less than 200 calories per roll!


Recipe Notes
My cooking time was significantly less than what the original recipe called for, so be sure to watch your oven!

Nutritional Information (per roll - makes 10)
190 calories - 5 g. fat - 9 g. protein - 0 g. fiber - 28 g. carbohydrates

  • 10 uncooked lasagna noodles (I used Skinner)
  • 1 c. finely-chopped white onion or sweet yellow onion
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 24-oz. jar tomato and basil pasta sauce (I used Ragu)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 c. low fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 oz. low fat cream cheese, softened
  • 14 oz. can baby artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c. torn fresh basil
  • 1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions for al dente preparation.
3.  Drain pasta (do not rinse) and arrange in a single layer on a piece of lightly-greased aluminum foil.
4.  Saute onion in hot oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until caramelized (approx. 7-8 minutes).
5.  Add minced garlic and saute, stirring frequently, for one minute.
6.  Stir in tomato sauce, sugar, and red pepper flakes.  
7.  Bring sauce to a boil, stirring often.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.
8.  Stir together ricotta cheese and cream cheese until smooth.
9.  Stir in artichoke hearts, egg white, basil, and Parmesan cheese.
10.  Spread 1/4 c. cheese mixture on one lasagna noodle.  Roll up firmly and place, seam side down, into a large 11x7 inch baking dish or onto a jelly roll pan.
11.  Repeat with remaining noodles and cheese filling.
12.  Spoon tomato sauce over the lasagna rolls.
13.  Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.  (My oven took only 35 minutes or so).
14.  Let stand for five minutes.  Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese or basil, if desired.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Maque Choux Soup

Here is one more soup recipe for you.  Considering the frigid temperatures across the country, I thought it might be warranted!  This Southern Living recipe appears to be quite light.  The recipe is entirely vegetables, spices, and chicken broth with the exception of a small amount of sour cream (and I used low-fat) and a small amount of white cornmeal.


Recipe Notes
I topped this soup with cooked, chopped center-cut bacon.  Southern Living also recommended chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and fresh lime juice.

  • 3 c. fresh corn kernels (approx. 6 ears)
  • 1 medium-sized orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 32-oz. container chicken broth
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 3 tbsp. plain white cornmeal
  • Assorted toppings (see above)
1.  Stir together corn and bell pepper in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Stir constantly for approximately 5 minutes or until vegetables begin to char.
2.  Transfer corn and bell pepper mixture to a 3-quart saucepan.  Add cumin and coriander and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes more.
3.  Add chicken broth and process with a handheld blender or a regular blender until slightly smooth.  Note: if you use a regular blender, you will have to repeat the process at least 2-3 times given the space constraint in the blender bowl.
4.  Return corn mixture to the saucepan and bring to a light boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring often, for approx. 5 minutes.
5.  Stir in salt and pepper.
6.  Whisk together sour cream and cornmeal in a small bowl.
7.  Whisk in 1/2 c. soup to the sour cream mixture.
8.  Add sour cream mixture to soup pot.
9.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until thickened.
10.  Serve hot with desired toppings.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Golden Winter Soup

More soup recipes!  This was a really excellent and filling Cooking Light soup from a 2008 back issue.  The base of butternut squash, potatoes, and leeks is really delicious.  This is similar to a French potage.
Recipe Notes
Serve this soup with a green salad and crusty bread.  The original recipe calls to make Gruyere topped toasts to serve alongside it.  I saved the calories from all of that cheese and had a salad and cheeseless bread instead.  I recommend using the pre-peeled and pre-cut butternut squash.  Even if it costs more, it saves you a TON of time.
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 5 c. cubed and peeled butternut squash (approx. 1.5 lbs.)
  • 2 c. cubed and peeled russet potatoes
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 c. sliced leeks (about 2 medium)
  • 4 c. fat free chicken broth (approx. 1 box)
  • 1 c. half-and-half
1.  Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add squash, potato, salt, and pepper.  Saute 3 minutes.
2.  Add leek and sauté until leek begins to soften.
3.  Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil.
4.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potato and squash are very tender.  Stir occasionally.
5.  Place half of the potato mixture in a blender or Cuisinart.  Process until smooth and pour into a large bowl.  Repeat with other half of soup.
6.  Stir in half-and-half. 
7.  Cover and keep warm until serving.  Garnish with additional fresh black pepper.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

'Tis the season for....soup!  Soup is perfect for a cold and lazy Saturday or Sunday when you have some time to make homemade soup.  This soup ultimately takes several hours to prepare, so save it for a rainy or snowy day.  I slightly modified an old Barefoot Contessa recipe from her very first cookbook for this soup.
Recipe Notes
I eliminated about 1/3 of the oil from the original recipe and I think that it still came out great and very flavorful.  For the canned tomatoes, I used San Marzano "chef's cut" tomatoes.
  • 2 lbs. ripe plum or Campari tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 c. chopped yellow (sweet) onions - approx. 2 medium onions
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 28 oz. canned plum tomatoes with juice
  • 4 c. fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 quart chicken stock, chicken broth, or water (best with chicken stock or broth)
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Toss tomatoes, 2 tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. 
3.  Spread tomatoes in one layer on a baking sheet covered with foil.  Roast for 45 minutes.
4.  In a large stockpot, sauté onions and garlic over medium heat with butter and 2 tbsp. olive oil.  Add red pepper flakes and sauté for approx. 10 minutes or until the onions start to brown.
5.  Add canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken broth or water.
6.  Add roasted tomatoes and pan juices.
7.  Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes.
8.  Allow soup to cool slightly.  Pass through a food mill or a Cuisinart until well-combined.
9.  Taste for seasonings.  Serve hot or cold with a big salad and crusty bread.