Monday, January 30, 2012

More Comfort Food - Chicken Pot Pie

     Another family favorite dinner that the girls grew up with was chicken pot pie.  Back in the day, I used lots of butter and even (gasp!) potatoes in this recipe.  Now I make this comfort meal with only one pat of butter and I ditch the starchy potato carbs.  The topping is from a ready made pie crust, but more South Beach Diet friendly would be the use of puff pastry or phyllo.  We still love this on a cold winter day, but have found that using individual souffle dishes lends to better portion control.




2 to 3 chicken breasts (good idea to include more and save/freeze for use later)

1 tablespoon butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

6 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 (15 oz.) cans chicken broth

1 (12oz.) package of frozen mixed vegetables, cooked in microwave for 5 minutes

1 prepared package of prepared pie crust dough such as Pillsbury's


     Place at least 2 or 3 chicken breasts  in a large pot along with some celery, a carrot or two, and an onion to give them a nice flavor.  Cover the breasts with water and heat to boiling.  Turn the heat down and let the breasts simmer for about 20 minutes.


     Meanwhile, dice one large onion and saute in 1 tablespoon butter and 3 tablespoons of olive oil until soft.  Add 6 tablespoons of flour and mix it into the onions.


      Add 2 (15 oz.) cans of chicken broth to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture is like thick gravy.  Cut the chicken up and add it to the pan along with a 12 oz. package of frozen mixed vegetables that has been cooked in the microwave for about 5 minutes. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

     Lay out prepared crust such as Pillsbury's and use the individual souffle dishes to cut out the dough.



Spoon the chicken vegetable mixture into each dish.

     Place a pie crust top on each dish and bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until the crust is flaky and brown.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Spinach Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells - Comfort Food!

This has been a favorite family recipe for years.  The savory sauce is light, tangy and just zings when paired with the satisfying ricotta cheese spinach filling of the pasta.  It was a cold and snowy today – just the right night for this comforting yummy dish!

Spinach Cheese Stuffed Shells

You will need a 12 oz. box of jumbo pasta shells – cook half of them according to the package directions.  A good time to do this would be while sauce is simmering and you are mixing up the spinach cheese filling.

Ingredients for the Sauce:
1 pound ground beef (optional)
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves put through a press or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 (15 oz.) can of tomato sauce
1 (15 oz.) can chopped tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano

Brown the ground beef and onion or medium low heat and drain the oil.  (This would be a good time to microwave the spinach for the filling – directions are below)  If using fresh garlic add it to beef and cook for 30 seconds before adding the rest of the ingredients.  (If not using ground beef, sauté fresh garlic in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 30 seconds and then add the rest of the ingredients) Simmer about 10 minutes or so while you combine the ingredients for the cheese spinach filling and cook the jumbo pasta shells

Ingredients for Spinach Filling
1 pound (16 oz.) ricotta cheese (I use part skim)
1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)

Cook spinach in microwave according to the package directions.  Squeeze/drain the excess water out of the spinach and mix it with the rest of the ingredients.

Directions for constructing this dish:

Stuff each shell with a heaping tablespoon of the filling.

  Arrange the shells in a baking dish.  Spoon the sauce over the stuffed shells.  

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.


Monday, January 16, 2012

BBQ, Buffalo Chicken, and Margarita Pizza - Fast!

A few weeks ago, Jenn came back from visiting Caroline with a great recipe for Buffalo Chicken Pizza.  For a few years now, I have really struggled with making pizza. I have tried all kinds of techniques for making the dough - and have failed at all of them!  Whipping up a sauce or slapping down toppings I can do - but making the crust is not my strength.  Jenn had the answer; they used a premade crust and it was even whole wheat at that. So, when I swallowed my pride and used the shrink wrapped crust, I also realized that pizza could now be made very, very easy.  The buffalo chicken recipe is really yummy, and making a reduced fat blue cheese dressing as part of the topping eases some of the guilt. Likewise, the barbecue chicken pizza is equally delicious and using the South Beach diet recipe for BBQ sauce, makes it a bit more healthy. Finally, for garlic lovers, a margarita pizza is included. The blend of basil, tomatoe, and melted fresh mozzerella cheese is just divine!

Barbecue Chicken Pizza
1 prepared pizza crust or pizza dough rolled out and ready to go
¾ cup prepared BBQ sauce (use bottled or diet recipe below)
5 or so thinly cut slices from a red onion
1 cup smoked white cheese sauce as Gouda, shredded
1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken (2 chicken breasts)
1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onions or chopped parsley
 Brush the pizza crust with a little of the BBQ sauce.  Mix the rest of the BBQ sauce with the chopped chicken and spread evenly over the crust.  Mix the two cheeses together and spread them on top of the chicken.  Separate the onion slices into rings and place them on top.  Bake at 450 degrees for 13 minutes.  After baking, garnish the top with chopped parsley or thinly sliced green onion.
South Beach BBQ Sauce – From South Beach Diet Book
1 (8-ounce) can Tomato sauce
2 tablespoons White vinegar
2 teaspoons Chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon Garlic powder

Combine all ingredients together. Refrigerate in a plastic container.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza
1 prepared pizza crust or pizza dough rolled out and ready to go
6 tablespoons of butter or margarine (I used “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”)
6 tablespoons hot pepper sauce such a Frank’s
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups diced cooked chicken (2 chicken breasts)
¼ cup of blue cheese dressing (use store bought or the diet recipe below)
1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onions or parsley
Put the margarine and hot pepper sauce in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for about 20 seconds.  Stir until completely combined and brush a little on the pizza crust.  Combine the two cheeses and spread them evenly over the top of the crust.  Add the rest of the hot pepper sauce mixture to the chicken and spread it evenly over the top of the cheese.   Drizzle the blue cheese dressing over the top and bake at 450 degrees for 13 minutes.  Garnish with thinly sliced green onions or parsley.

Light Blue Cheese Dressing

½ cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons plain vinegar
¼ cup reduced fat sour cream
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together.

Margarita Pizza
1 prepared pizza crust or pizza dough rolled out and ready to go
4 gloves of garlic put through a press
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons washed and thinly sliced basil leaves
1 or 2 ripe red tomatoes, sliced
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Brush 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on the crust.  Spread the pressed garlic over the crust. Arrange the basil, tomatoes, and tomato slices over the top. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and bake at 450 degrees for 13 minutes.