Monday, March 16, 2009

Cheese Vegetable Chowder

Have you ever eaten at the Lion House?? It is so good, I love to go there and eat myself silly. One of my favorite things there is the Cheese Vegetable Chowder. However, in true fat chick fashion I always am going through it in my head making changes and wondering what would happen if I added this or that or what if I did this's a sickness I am sure.

This soup recipe is adapted from the Lion House Cheese Chowder recipe but I have added way more vegetables, more cheese, changed out part of the milk for half and get the idea! :) The beauty of this one is you truly can make it your own and it's impossible to mess up. If you are a food storage user upper this is fine with powdered milk, bouillion cubes, cheese powder and dehydrated or canned veggies etc.

Cheese Vegetable Chowder

approx 10 servings

1 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup margarine
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 Tbls cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
5 cups chicken broth
2 cups half and half
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups carrots
1 1/2 cups celery
2 cups potatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

Cook vegetables in chicken broth for approx 20 min or until cooked through.

Saute onion in melted butter until transparent but not brown, add flour and cornstarch, parprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook for 5-10 min to cook out flour taste. Add to vegetables and broth. Add half and half and milk. Cook stirring constantly until thickened. Add cheese and stir until melted. I usually dump everything into the crock pot at this point on low. Add parsley just before serving so it is pretty and green. Garnish with bacon bits if you like. (Bacon isn't included in the nutrional info)

Calories 307; Total Fat 20g; Total Carbs 17.6g; Fiber 1.9g; Protein 12.5g

Monday, March 9, 2009

Biggest Loser Chicken Strips

One of my favorite TV shows is Biggest Loser. As I sit there on the couch eating my ice cream it's hard to not get just a little bit motivated to try harder in my own weight loss. Well, OK. If I were TRULY motivated I would probably choose a different, more healthy snack to eat while watching but it is all about baby steps after all, right?

Last week they had guest chef Rocco De Spirito on the show and he showed the contestants how to make chicken fingers more healthy. This is my take on his recipe. It is basically the same but I have swapped out the whole wheat bread crumbs for Panko because I can't find whole wheat organic in my local grocery store and I like the crunch of the Panko. I also increased the cayenne pepper a bit and reduced the buttermilk. Cause really, a whole quart seems like a huge waste to me.

When you get to the baking step it works best to cook the strips in 2 batches so that they are not squished together on the baking rack. If you have a baking sheet large enough to put 2 racks on that would be ideal. The chicken needs the air circulation to crisp up correctly. So, don't be in a rush and try to do it all at once....I wouldn't know anything about that.

Biggest Loser "Fried" Chicken
Serves 8
2 pounds chicken tenders
1 pint lowfat buttermilk
2 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons paprika
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon organic seasoning Salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
4 egg whites, beaten to very soft peaks
Pam cooking spray or olive oil

1. Soak chicken tenders in refrigerator, in buttermilk, for 6 hours or overnight.
2. Drain and blot with paper towels to remove excess buttermilk.
3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Lay bread crumbs out on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. Cool. (You don't absolutely have to do this but it gives the crumbs that nice caramel color tricking your senses into thinking they have been fried. If pale, Caucasian, chicken strips don't bother you by all means skip this step)
5. Increase oven heat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Combine cornstarch, paprika, seasoning salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a large Pyrex dish - mix well.
7. Dredge drained and blotted chicken tenders in seasoned starch.
8. Next, coat dredged tenders thoroughly with beaten egg whites.
9. Last, dip tenders in toasted Panko to fully coat.
10. Place chicken tenders on a foil-lined baking sheet, fitted with a baking rack. Lightly spray chicken on both sides with Pam and season lightly with salt, if desired.
11. Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes or until outside is crispy and chicken is just cooked through and juicy.

For Eight Servings
Nutrient Analysis – per serving
Calories: 270; Total Fat: 4g; Total Carb: 27g; Fiber: 2g; Protein: 28g

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Olive Garden Salad Dressing

This is actually a bit cheesier than Olive Garden. I think they use only Romano cheese in their dressing but I like the Romano, Parmesan, Asiago blend better. Maybe it's because I increased the amount of cheese from the original recipe? Whatever, it's very tasty.

Olive Garden Italian Salad Dressing

½ c white vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/3 c veg oil
¼ c corn syrup
4 T. grated Romano cheese (I like the 3 cheese blend better)
2 T dry pectin
2 T. beaten egg or egg substitute (egg substitute gives this a better texture and is more stable)
1 ¼ t. salt
1 t. lemon juice
½ t. minced garlic
¼ t. dried parsley flakes
Pinch of dried oregano
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all of the ingredients with a mixer on medium speed or in a blender on low speed for 30 seconds. Chill at least 1 hour; serve over mixed green or use as a marinade

Enrichment Night...really enriching??

It was Enrichment Night tonight. I am on the committee and had the assignment of food. Because I am a dingbat and can rarely find the phone I missed the meeting that assignments were given out...if you don't want to be in charge of food you should really show up. They decided on soups and left the rest to me. Ok...I can do this. How hard can soups be?

I assigned out the breadsticks because I am yeast challenged. So far so good. I asked 2 others to help with the soup and 1 other person to help with dessert. I'm thinking to myself that this is going to be an easy, breezey no worries kind of assignment! Yay!

Unfortunately 2 full hours of my carefully scheduled day were taken over by a doctor's appointment. Ok, not to worry, I can still do this! And then, because I am apparently recipe comprehension challenged I had to make a flying journey to Walmart for critical forgotten elements. Panic is starting to set in. Can I still pull this off?? Who knows? I am tripling recipes and cooling cake and dirtying every pot in the house.

Thanks to the people that I gave earlier assignments to I managed to finish in the nick of time. So I was dressed a little casual? Who really wants to fire me?

My portion of the dinner was a couple of big pots of Pasta e Fagioli, salad and a pan of Raspberry Supreme. The soup was yum, I am eating it again today. The salad dressing was as good as Olive Garden I think. And Raspberry Supreme is never bad, ever.

So, here is the recipe for the soup. It was really good, I will be doing it again. Sorry, Brianne. :)

And yes, I guess that Enrichment Night is really enriching even with the panic previous to it starting!

Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup)
3 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 15 oz can great northern beans (with liquid)
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 12 oz can V-8 juice
1 T white vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 t oregano
1 t basil
½ t pepper
½ t thyme
½ lb (1/2 pkg) ditali pasta

1. Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Drain off most of the fat.
2. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes
3. Add remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour
4. About 50 minutes into the simmering, cook the pasta in 1 ½ to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or just until pasta is al dente, or slightly tough. Drain
5. Add the pasta to the large pot of soup. Simmer for 5-10 minutes more and serve.
Serves 8 (big servings)

Calories 610; Total Fat 5.4g; Total Carbohydrates 96.0g; Dietary Fiber 22.1g; Protein 46.2g

Monday, March 2, 2009

Comfort Eating and Strawberry Banana Bread

Last week was an exercise in comfort eating for me. Yes, I gained 3 lbs. No, it doesn't feel particulary better today with the cold, harsh light shining down on the bathroom scale, but at the time it filled a need.

One of the things that I indulged way too much in was Strawberry Banana Bread. I have a weakness for banana bread that does me in every single time I make it. No matter how much I give away I still manage to eat more than my share of warm bananay goodness! What can I say? I am weak.

This is totally yum with the strawberries. It's also good with blueberries or even just the banana bread by itself. Oh, and you really do have to cool it completely before you dump it out of the pan. It will totally disintegrate if you get too anxious!

Strawberry Banana Bread
Makes 2 loaves. 12 slices each

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups ripe bananas (about 6 medium-size) , mashed
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups flour
1-1/2 pounds frozen strawberries (I like to chop them into chunks rather than slices), thawed

Grease two 9- by 5-inch loaf pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Incorporate the bananas and scrape the sides of the bowl with the spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each one. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix tgether the salt, baking soda, and flour. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until fully incorporated.

Add the strawberries. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack before inverting onto a plate.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories 218; Fat 8.6 g; Cholesterol 51mg; Sodium 267mg; Total Carbohydrates 33.3g;
Dietary Fiber 1.2g; Protein 2.8g