Curried Cauliflower Recipe

When I was shopping at our local Sunflower Market the other day, the cauliflower looked so lovely – and was on sale for cheapcheapcheap. So I bought a head to have with our tandoori chicken and naan that evening. I decided to make curried cauliflower, and it was delicious.  Two of my kids declared it “the best cauliflower ever!”

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
Pinch of cayenne
1 head of cauliflower, cored and cut into bite-size pieces
1 15-oz. can coconut milk
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped (plus some sprigs for garnishing)
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
1 cup frozen peas (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and half the salt, and cook until golden, about 8-10 minutes. Add the rest of the salt and the spices and stir for a minute, and then add the cauliflower, coconut milk, and broth. Cook uncovered until the cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes. Increase the heat and reduce the sauce until it coats the cauliflower. Stir in the cilantro. Stir in the raisins and peas, if using, and let heat through. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro.

We skipped the raisins and peas because… well, because we really dislike raisins. And I forgot to buy peas.

This actually makes a good meatless dinner, as well as a side dish. And it’s yummy, and inexpensive – and wayyyy less expensive than eating out. I love that I can introduce my kids to a lot of different cuisines, especially since two of them want to be chefs.

 

Ham and Lentils Slow-Cooker Stew Recipe

I love this stew – and I love that I can cook it in my crockpot and not heat up the house!

1 lb dried lentils
2 cups fat-free chicken broth
5 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup cooked ham, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/4 tsp pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaf
1 tsp salt

Put everything except the salt into a slow cooker. Cook for 3-4 hours on high. Salt before serving.

Servings: 8

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 258 calories, 16 calories from fat, 1.8g total fat, 9.6mg cholesterol, 686.1mg sodium, 790.1mg potassium, 40.9g carbohydrates, 19g fiber, 4.2g sugar, 19.9g protein.

It also is very low-calorie and frugal. It’s a win-win-win meal!

Sage and Thyme Marinated Chicken Breasts Recipe

We love chicken! I don’t think there’s a way I ever cook chicken that my kids don’t clamor for more. This is one of the easiest ways to add lots of flavor and make chicken into something a little different from the everyday (not that regular ol’ chicken isn’t wonderful).

I am really looking forward to trying them on the grill, once we get one. Soon!

 

4 chicken breasts
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons chives, snipped
1 1/2 teaspoon parsley chopped
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspooon salt
1  teaspoon sugar
(Optional) 3/4 cup white wine or chicken broth

Either slice the chicken breasts in half, making two thin pieces out of each, or pound them thin.

2. In a large zip-top bag, mix the 1½  tablespoons olive oil, thyme, chives, parsley, sage, cayenne, salt, pepper, and sugar.  Add the chicken and mush around with your hands to cover all the pieces.  Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

3. Dry the chicken off with paper towels. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Spray with nonstick spray and put the chicken in. Do this in batches if you have a smaller frying pan. After the chicken browns on one side, turn it and let it brown on the other. Don’t overcook – the chicken should be thin enough to cook through by the time it’s brown on both sides.

4. (Optional) Remove the chicken breasts to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.  Add the white wine or chicken broth to the pan and use a spatula to pick up all the brown bits. Let the sauce simmer until reduced to a syrupy consistency. Spoon over the chicken.

Servings: 4

Nutrition Facts (without the pan sauce)
Nutrition (per serving): 311 calories, 72 calories from fat, 8.1g total fat, 136.9mg cholesterol, 1026.1mg sodium, 617mg potassium, 1.5g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.1g sugar, 54.6g protein.

If you’re curious about those side dishes in the picture, they are Cucumber, Onion and Dill Salad (we call it Primordial Ooze Salad, after a sauce I make for salmon), and Low-Calorie Smashed Potatoes. I’ll be putting those recipes up soon.

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

For the most part, when I think of hot soup, I think of the winter and fall. But when I see all the beautiful vegetables in the produce section, I can’t help but think of chicken tortilla soup. And the heat (spicy-heat, not hot-heat) really does make you feel cooler.

In the winter, I frequently use canned tomatoes in soups, but this time of year, the tomatoes start looking better and better at the store. The farmer’s market near me opens in a week, and I’m sure those will be even better. Using fresh in this soup keeps it tasting summery.

2 corn tortillas
Nonstick spray
1 32-oz. box of non-fat chicken broth
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, sliced
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups corn kernals (frozen, canned, or fresh)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 avocado
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

Slice the corn tortillas into strips. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and spray with nonstick spray. Add the tortilla strips in batches, stirring gently until crispy. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer and add the chicken, onion, jalapeno, tomatoes, corn, garlic powder, and cumin. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and chop the avocado and toss with the lime juice.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top each serving with a few of the corn tortilla strips, a spoonful of the avocado, and a bit of the cilantro.

Servings: 8

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 168 calories, 41 calories from fat, 4.9g total fat, 34.2mg cholesterol, 609.2mg sodium, 524.4mg potassium, 16.2g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 3.2g sugar, 16.7g protein.

I love this soup. So did my kids, except the one who hates all soup and all tomatoes on principle. He had a quesadilla.

 

Low-Fat Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe

Low-fat potatoes au gratin? Okay, let’s say lower-fat instead.

One of my favorite parts of Easter dinner is ham with potatoes au gratin. My (former) usual potatoes au gratin came out to over 500 calories and 25 grams of fat per serving, though! And I’m too close to 30 pounds lost since my diagnosis on December 8 — and I really want to reach that milestone. Well, I want it, but not enough to forego au gratin potatoes altogether!

Luckily, I had stuff on hand to try to come up with a lower-fat version, and they were absolutely delicious at only 300 calories and 7.6 grams a serving. Okay, that’s a lot for a side dish in my world, but not so bad that I can’t have it for a treat. And since my boys don’t like potatoes, I’ve got two servings in the freezer for next time I want a bit of a splurge.

3 medium potatoes, sliced thinly
1 shallots, diced
2  tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 can evaporated milk
3/4 cup low-fat cheese

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray 4 ramekins with nonstick spray. Layer the potatoes and shallots in the ramekins, with a pinch of salt and pepper.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and then stir in the flour. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add the evaporated milk and stir constantly until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the cheese and stir until melted.

Pour the sauce over the potatoes and shallots in the ramekins.  Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.

Servings: 4

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving, according to Living Cookbook): 300 calories, 67 calories from fat, 7.6g total fat, 23.5mg cholesterol, 250.3mg sodium, 1013.9mg potassium, 42.3g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 12.2g sugar, 16.1g protein.

Goulash Recipe

This is a family staple – my mom used to make it (a little differently) when I was a kid, I make it for my kids, and my grown daughter makes it for herself and her boyfriend. I think we each put our own touch to it.

This is absolutely an Americanized version of goulash – it’s nothing like the Hungarian kind. I’m not even sure why we call it goulash, except for the paprika.  It does make a great budget-stretcher, though – I’ve made with as little as a quarter pound of meat and no one complained.

This also freezes well and makes terrific leftovers.

1 lb extra lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 Tbs paprika
1 tsp oregano
15 oz can crushed tomatoes
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 lb bite-sized pasta (I usually use shells or macaroni)

Brown the ground beef over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon while it cooks. Remove any grease with a spoon and blot the meat with a paper towel, or rinse the meat under hot water in a fine mesh strainer.  Return the meat to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic,  onion, paprika and oregano, and cook and stir until the vegetables are translucent.  Add both cans of tomatoes, stir, and reduce to a simmer.

While the sauce simmers, boil the pasta until done. Drain and mix with the sauce.

Servings: 8

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 225 calories, 95 calories from fat, 10.4g total fat, 39.1mg cholesterol, 179.6mg sodium, 559.2mg potassium, 19.6g carbohydrates, 3.3g fiber, <1g sugar, 14.5g protein.

Oh, and for a laugh: After dinner, the kids asked if they could have dessert, and I told them they could each have 3 small chocolates. And then I said, facetiously, “There’s more broccoli, if anyone wants that for dessert instead.”Both of my boys started to put their chocolate back! I let them have both.

Menu Plan for March 28 – April 3 and Roasted Potatoes Recipe

Menu Plan

Dinners

Sunday: Roast chicken with oven roasted potatoes (see below)
Monday: Spaghetti with Italian sausage
Tuesday: Tuscan soup with breadsticks (recipe to come)
Wednesday: Chicken and dumplings
Thursday: FFY
Friday: Kids at their dad’s; I’ll have some fish and asparagus
Saturday: Kids at their dad’s; I’ll have something from the freezer

Lunches: Quesadillas, sandwiches, beans and weinies, Madras lentils and rice, smoothies

Breakfasts: Cinnamon streusel crumb-top muffins, oatmeal and fruit, smoothies, cold cereal

Oven-roasted Rosemary Potatoes

By mixing this in a plastic bag instead of a bowl, you can get every surface of the potatoes covered with oil and seasonings without having to use very much oil. This is more frugal (olive oil is pricey), and lighter.

2 potatoes
1  teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
2 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Scrub potatoes and cut them into one inch chunks. (If your potatoes are a little green, you can go ahead and peel them, like I had to do with last night’s potatoes.)  Put them in a plastic bag and add the other ingredients. Mush it around until all of the ingredients are well dispersed, and all the potatoes are covered with the other ingredients.

 

3. Spread the potato chunks out in one layer on a cookie sheet. Put in oven and roast for 30 minutes or until a fork inserts easily and the edges are golden brown.

Servings: 4

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 130 calories, 46 calories from fat, 5.2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 476.9mg sodium, 457.7mg potassium, 19.3g carbohydrates, 2.4g fiber, <1g sugar, 2.3g protein.

 

Split Pea Soup Recipe

A couple weeks ago, spiral hams were on a ridiculous sale, so I bought one and we had a lovely, decadent dinner, with ham and mashed potatoes and rolls and applesauce. We also had enough ham left over for a second dinner, plus meat for lots of sandwiches, and a ham bone to freeze for soup. I made our favorite, split pea soup.

1 pound of split peas
2 quarts water
Ham bone
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, smashed
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme

Rinse peas and pick through and remove any stones.

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot or dutch oven. Simmer for 2 hours, adding water if necessary.

Remove the ham bone and allow to cool enough to  handle. Pick the meat off and return the meat to the soup. Discard the bone.

Add salt and pepper to taste, but be sure to actually taste it – the ham can add a lot of salt.

And THAT made such a large pot of soup, that I still have some in the freezer for yet another meal or two.  And the moral of this story is: Never pass up a fantastic sale on ham.

Menu Plan for April 11-17 and Tuscan Soup Recipe

Dinners

Sunday Tuscan Soup (Recipe below)

Monday Black Bean Burritos

Tuesday Breakfast for Dinner

Wednesday Chicken breasts with balsamic pan sauce

Thursday Leftovers

Friday Farfalle with Tuna and Capers in White Wine Sauce (from Simply Recipes)

Saturday Fish, brown rice, and brussel sprouts

Breakfasts: Oatmeal pancakes with blueberry sauce, oatmeal with fruit, cold cereal

Lunches: Quesadillas, leftovers, smoothies, sandwiches

I am madly in love with the Zuppa Toscana at Olive Garden. I think that it and the tiramisu are the only reasons to eat at Olive Garden.

This week is “make the most of what you’ve got” week for us (meaning it’s not strictly “eat from the pantry and freezer”, but the less I can buy to round out what I’ve got, the better). I have been meaning to try my hand at a soup inspired by, but not entirely copied from (that’s no fun!) the Olive Garden soup. I had Italian sausage in the freezer, and I had spinach — I had planned kale in this, but spinach was what I had. And that worked out just fine.

This is what I came up with, and MAN was it yummy.

1 lb bulk Italian sausage
2 Tbs shallots, diced
3 clove garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
3 15oz. cans chicken broth (fat free)
2 cup water
1 potato, diced
1 cup spinach, chopped
3 Tbs basil, chopped
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk

Fry sausage in a large sauce pan, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain on paper towels. In the same pan, cook shallot and garlic until translucent. Add wine and deglaze pan. Add broth and water and turn heat to medium. Add sausage back to pan and add potato. Cook until potato is done, then add the spinach. Finish with the evaporated milk and serve.

Servings: 12

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving, according to Living Cookbook): 180 calories, 109 calories from fat, 12.1g total fat, 29.6mg cholesterol, 741.1mg sodium, 304.4mg potassium, 6.2g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.8g sugar, 8g protein.

And now we have 2 more meals’ worth of this tasty soup in the freezer!

I also served homemade bread sticks. I used Lynn’s 40-minute Rolls recipe, but I cut it in half — I used a whole egg, and added a little extra flour to compensate for the extra liquid in the egg. I shaped them into snake-shapes by rolling balls of dough between my palms, like you would with play dough, and then baked them. After they were done, I sprayed them lightly with butter-flavor nonstick spray, and sprinkled them with a little bit of garlic salt. They were fantastic!

Everyone except my pickiest eater loved this soup (and that pickiest eater doesn’t like ANY soup). We will definitely be having this again!