Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kraft's Chicken Vegetable Marinara

I subscribe to the Kraft Food & Fun magazine, and when I got this Fall's issue, I found this little gem of a recipe.  It's under 500 calories per serving, and it smells so wonderfully fragrant while cooking!

Prep:  15 minutes
Total:  55 minutes
Makes:  4 servings, 1 3/4 cups each

What you need:
2 slices Oscar Mayer bacon, chopped
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
3 large carrots (1/2 lb.), diagonally sliced
3 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 jar (14 oz.) marinara sauce
2 cups multigrain rotini pasta, uncooked
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup Kraft 2% Milk Shredded Italian Three Cheese Blend

Make it:
Cook and stir bacon in large saucepan on medium heat 4 min. or until crisp.  Use slotted spoon to transfer bacon to medium bowl, reserving 2 tsp. drippings in pan.  Add chicken and oregano to drippings; cook and stir 4 min. or until chicken is no longer pink.  Add to bacon; set aside.
Add carrots to saucepan; cook and stir 2 min.  Add broth, marinara sauce and pasta; stir.  Bring to boil on high heat; simmer on medium-low heat 12 min.  Stir in zucchini and chicken mixture; simmer 8 to 10 min. or until pasta and vegetables are tender and chicken is done.

Top with cheese.

Calories 490, fat 11g (sat 3.5g), chol 80mg, sodium 1140mg, carb 51g, fiber 9g, sugars 13g, protein 47g, vit A 250%DV, vit C 50%DV, iron 20%DV

Recipe taken from Kraft Foods Food & Family magazine, Fall '10 issue, page 11.

You can find more awesome recipes from Kraft on http://www.kraftrecipes.com

Monday, August 16, 2010

Quick Healthy Breakfasts!

With back-to-school time here, it's important to get our families good, healthy breakfasts in record time.  This is a daunting task for the unprepared, but with a little preparation, it's really quite easy and rewarding!  Here's a sample list for an entire week's breakfasts, with shopping list!  This is what I do with my family.

Buy (on Saturday before the week begins):
Healthy, whole-grain cereal (ie Multigrain Cheerios)
Gallon of milk
Old-fashioned (NOT INSTANT) oatmeal
Light Margarine
Sugar-free preserves (your favorite flavor)
2 Dozen Eggs
Whole-wheat flour (PANTRY STAPLE)
All-purpose flour (PANTRY STAPLE)
Pancake mix (buckwheat is healthier)
Ground turkey breast
Pure Maple Syrup
Poultry Seasoning
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (PANTRY STAPLE)
Black Pepper (PANTRY STAPLE)
Whole Wheat English Muffins
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
8 McIntosh Apples
Baking Powder (PANTRY STAPLE)

SATURDAY NIGHT (Prepare Make-Ahead Waffles & Oatmeal):
Whisk together in a large bowl:
* 1 cup whole-wheat flour
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
Whisk together in another bowl:
* 3 eggs, well beaten
* 1 cup applesauce
* 1 1/2 cups milk
* 1 tablespoon cinnamon
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet ingredients.  Gently whisk together until batter looks pebbled.  Spoon 1/2 cup batter onto well-greased hot waffle iron.  Spread evenly, and cook (closed) until waffle is golden brown.  Repeat with rest of batter.  Let waffles cool, and seal in freezer-safe ziploc bags (the big ones).
* 3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal (NOT INSTANT)
* 3 cups milk
* 4 cups water
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 cup raisins
* 1/2 cup craisins
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine the oatmeal, milk, and water in a large, deep saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  When it boils, quickly turn the heat down to very low.  Stir in the brown sugar, dried fruits, and salt and cook at a low simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until very thick and creamy.  Stir often to prevent the bottom from scorching.  Cool completely and refrigerate in individual re-sealable containers to reheat on Tuesday.

Sunday is usually a calmer morning around here, so I make a good breakfast then.  This recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray's recipe.
* 2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
* 1 pound ground turkey breast
* 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
* 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
* Salt and Pepper
* 8 eggs (or use just the whites for a healthier meal)
* 1/4 cup milk
* 4 whole-wheat English muffins
* 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Optional Toppers:
* Thinly sliced apple
* Tomato slices
* Sliced Dill pickles
Preheat the broiler.  Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, once around the pan.  In a mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey, maple syrup, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper.  Form 4 large, thin patties and cook 10-12 minutes, turning once.  Remove and reserve.  Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet.  Beat the eggs with milk, salt, and pepper.  Pop the split English muffins under the broiler to toast when you add the eggs to the skillet.  Scramble the eggs until they are done to your taste, and remove the muffins from the oven when nicely browned.  Top each muffin bottom with a sausage patty, one fourth of the eggs, and 1/4 cup of the cheese.  Place the sammies without their tops under the broiler for 1 minute to melt the cheese.  Top with any toppers you would like, or just set the tops in place and serve.  Serves 4.

Cereal is the quintessential go-to quick breakfast, and the whole grains give a great start to the day.  Just watch your portion sizes!

For instant, healthy oatmeal quickly, get the pre-made oatmeal that has already been refrigerated in individual portions out of the fridge.  Warm in the microwave, and serve with extra milk.

Get the whole-wheat apple cinnamon waffles out of the freezer and toast them.  Spread fruit preserves over them or drizzle with maple syrup to serve.

Preheat skillet over medium-high heat with some light margarine to just coat the skillet.  Beat as many eggs as your family will eat with some milk.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour eggs into skillet, and scramble.  Once eggs are almost set, sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.  Serve warm with ketchup or salsa.

It's great to end the week the same way you began the week--with a quick, whole-grain breakfast of cereal.

I grew up having pancakes for breakfast on Saturdays.  I love the tradition, and found this healthier version from Rachael Ray, which I have adapted here.
* 8 medium McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and diced
* 1/2 cup apple sauce
* 1/4 cup water
* Cinnamon
* 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
* Nonstick cooking spray (as needed)
* Pancake Mix (Buckwheat is healthy and great here)
Preheat oven to 150*.  Combine the apples, applesauce, and water in a medium sauce pot.  Add cinnamon to taste, and cook until the apples break down and become a chunky sauce, 12 to 15 minutes.  Stir in the maple syrup and reserve over low heat.  While the apples are simmering, preheat a griddle or large nonstick skillet and coat with cooking spray.  Mix up the pancake batter and make 8 pancakes, keeping the finished pancakes warm in the oven.  When the pancakes are ready to serve, layer two flapjacks with lots of homemade apple-maple sauce on each plate.  Serves 4.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Good, Clean Fun

Soapmaking 101!

The easiest soap for beginners to make is glycerin soap. You'll need to make a trip to your local craft store to get glycerin soap base, color drops, and fragrance drops. If you don't have any flexible molds at home--plastic & silicone are both fabulous, and even ice trays work--then you may want to check out molds while you're there. Once home, microwave the glycerin blocks in a glass container to melt--DO NOT BOIL THEM! Then stir with a wooden spoon, add color & fragrance drops a little bit at a time until you get your desired color & scent strength, and pour into the molds. Refrigerate to set. Once set, pop them out and wrap in plastic wrap to store or gift. You can also line a bread pan with plastic wrap and pour your soap in, then once set you cut slices of soap to make the bars. Same technique would work with a brownie pan. For kids, try putting a little plastic toy in the soap before it sets so they have to remember to wash up in order to eventually get the toy.

Soapmaking 201!

To make creamy lye soap in a blender, you need:

lye (RedDevil brand is excellent)
distilled water
liquid cooking oil (olive, canola, palm, coconut)
essential oils (for fragrance)
any additives you'd like (try oatmeal with vanilla-scented essential oil)
1/2-gallon bowl (Rubber-maid type)
sturdy plastic stirring spoon
Pam cooking spray
kitchen food scale
plastic wrap (if desired to line molds)
For safety, you need rubber gloves, goggles, and long sleeves.

Grease your molds with Pam. Measure your water and lye. POUR THE LYE SLOWLY INTO THE WATER, NOT THE WATER INTO THE LYE. Stir until dissolved and let cool until clear (you started with cool water, but the chemical reaction will make it very hot very quickly). Measure oil and pour into blender. Slowly pour the lye solution into the oil. Lock blender into place and secure cover. Place towel over top for extra safety. Blend at lowest possible speed. Stop blender often to watch soap for when it just begins to thicken. For safety, each time you stop the blender, wait a few seconds before removing the cover to avoid "burps" as air rises to the surface. Once the soap has begun to thicken, check for "tracing" by stirring soap and taking a spoonful of soap to drizzle water across--if the water leaves a trace you're ready for the next step. Once the soap begins to thicken, add your essential oils and any other additives. Blend these in for a few seconds. Pour into the molds and cover with the blanket (or a towel) to avoid cooling too quickly. Let soap harden 1-2 days, then pop it out of the molds and let it age for 3 weeks before using it.

Try this recipe for Oatmeal Cinnamon Soap:
8 oz. palm oil
6 oz. coconut oil
2 oz. olive oil
1/3 cup regular oatmeal (well blended)
2.4 oz. lye
6.4 oz. water
1 tsp. cinnamon essential oil
(Mix lye into water--let cool. Mix oils in blender. Add lye mixture. Blend and check until begins to thicken. Add oatmeal and cinnamon essential oil. Blend a few seconds until thoroughly mixed. Pour into molds. Cover with blanket. Let set 2 days. Remove and let age 3 weeks.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Better-for-You Mexican Chicken & Rice Burrito Dinner

Simple swaps to whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and increased veggies make this a tasty better option!

1 tsp plus 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 can no-sugar-added supersweet corn
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast--any fat trimmed off
1 tbsp taco seasoning
2 cups uncooked instant brown rice
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups chunky salsa
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
Whole wheat tortillas

Add 1 tsp of the olive oil to a large skillet; heat over medium-high heat 1-3 minutes (until shimmery). Meanwhile, drain corn. Add corn to skillet in a single layer. Cook without stirring 5 minutes or until caramelized on one side (this adds color and texture). Remove corn from skillet and set aside.

While corn is cooking, cube chicken breast. Combine chicken and taco seasoning. When corn is out of the skillet, add chicken to the skillet. Cook until no longer pink (about 5-7 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Add rice and stir until coated with oil. Add broth and salsa, bring to a simmer. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low. Simmer 5 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Spoon chicken over rice and sprinkle cheese and corn on top. Cover skillet. Turn off heat, and let stand 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

To serve, spoon into warm whole wheat tortillas and roll into burritos. Serve with your favorite veggie side (possibly a salad with low-fat Ranch dressing that has been mixed with additional taco seasoning). Enjoy!