Saturday, January 31, 2009

Zippy Chicken Soup

Need to warm up on a cold winter night? This Southwestern style Zippy Chicken Soup will do the trick. It's the perfect follow up to last night's New Mexico-Style Pizza, because you can use the rest of the chicken, corn, and cilantro, and cheese from the pizza recipe.

Let's do a little chopping. First seed and finely chop a jalapeno pepper, then two tablespoons of cilantro, and finally, 1/2 lb. of chicken breast.

Here they are, all ready to go, the chopped cilantro and jalapeno, diced tomatoes, rinsed black beans, and chopped green chilies.

Now, put the chicken in the pot.

Dump in the tomatoes, black beans, green chilies, cilantro, cumin, and chili powder.

Oh yeah, and corn. I forgot the corn. 2 cups of frozen corn.

And now pour in the broth. Then bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Combine cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of broth and stir until smooth.

Add the cornstarch mixture to the soup and cook and stir for another couple of minutes until thickened.

Lookin' good....

All right, now ladle it up and top with some corn chips, sour cream, and a little cheese. Quick (must be why they call it "zippy") and easy, low in fat and calories, and most importantly, delicious!

My preparation methods varied a little from the recipe below, but the ingredients are the same. Reminds me of high school math class. As long as you get the right answer and show your work, you'll get it right.

Zippy Chicken Soup from Light and Tasty Magazine

1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 cups frozen corn
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
3 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon cornstarch
18 tortilla chips
Shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend, optional

In a large nonstick saucepan or Dutch oven coated with cooking spray, cook chicken
over medium heat for 4-6 minutes or until juices run clear. Set aside 2
tablespoons of broth; add remaining broth to pan. Stir in the corn, beans,
tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, chili powder and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce
heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Combine the cornstarch and reserved
broth until smooth; stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes
or until thickened. Top each serving with tortilla chips. Garnish with cheese if

Yield: 6 servings

One serving: 1-1/3 cups with 3 tortilla chips (calculated without cheese) Calories: 194 Fat: 2 g Saturated Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 24 mg Sodium: 752 mg Carbohydrate: 29 g Fiber: 5 g Protein: 17 g Diabetic Exchange: 2 starch, 2 very lean meat.

WW Points per serving: 3! Just 3!

Friday, January 30, 2009

New Mexico Style Pizza

My husband and I fell in love with New Mexican food about 6 or 7 years ago while visiting my sister who was living outside of Albuquerque at the time. On the first morning of our visit my sister and her husband took us to the Village of Corrales, to the Calico Cafe where the waitress inquired whether we would like our eggs with green chile sauce, red chile sauce, or "Christmas" style (both sauces). One taste of those chile sauces and we were hooked. Corrales is a charming little village with some artsy shops (pottery, jewelry, copper, etc.) and good food. So if you're ever in Albuquerque....

A couple of years later we managed to find a New Mexico style restaurant by our townhouse in Columbus, Ohio. Of all the places to find New Mexican cuisine. I was pregnant with our first daughter at the time and I craved that stuff. Heartburn be damned!

Then, last weekend as we road-tripped back to Indiana, I lounged in the passenger seat perusing recipes for the meal plan. I was staring at this recipe, trying to make up my mind when I heard,"Oh. New Mexico-style pizza!" My husband was looking at the recipe (and driving) He sounded pretty excited about the possibility, so I added it to the "maybe" pile. I'm always happy to change up our Friday night pizza routine, and this recipe quickly went from "maybe" to "definitely". I am NOT sorry. This pizza was absolutely delicious. I am exercising a great deal of restraint to not get up for another piece as I sit here typing about it.

The recipe calls for a pre-baked thin Italian bread shell crust. I forgot to grab one of these at the store this afternoon, so I rolled out a tube of Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza dough onto a baking sheet and pre-baked it at 425 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

Next I mixed up the sauce. Actually, my daughter mixed up the sauce, I just measured the ingredients for her. Here they are: salsa verde, lime juice, cumin, oregano, and salt.

The recipe also calls for 2 cups of shredded, cooked chicken breast. At about 5 pm tonight, I was 3 aisles from finished with my big bi-monthly grocery shopping trip. I realized that by the time that I filled my list, waited in the Friday-night- before-Super Bowl check out lines, loaded the car, drove home, unloaded the car, and put all of those groceries away...there was no way I was going to have time to cook chicken breast, assemble and bake a pizza, and keep two small children happy. So I bee-lined for the deli and tossed this into my cart. That's right, a rotisserie chicken. And let me tell ya, the pizza was better for it. That rotisserie chicken was so flavorful and tender and juicy that it made an excellent topping for this pizza.

I shredded the breast for the pizza and saved the drumsticks and the thighs for any picky children who might decide that mommy's new take on Friday night pizza was "not her cup of tea"

I sliced 3 green onions.

Spread the salsa verde sauce onto the pizza crust

and topped the pizza with the chicken, green onions, 1/2 cup of corn, and cheddar cheese.

Bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of minced fresh cilantro.

Serve it up with some sour cream. Please. Try it. You will NOT be sorry.

New Mexico-Style Pizza from Light and Tasty Magazine

1 prebaked thin Italian bread shell crust (10 ounces)
1-1/2 cups salsa verde
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
6 tablespoons fat-free sour cream

Place crust on a pizza pan or baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine the salsa
verde, lime juice, cumin, salt and oregano; spread over crust. Top with chicken,
corn, onions and cheese. Bake at 450° for 8-10 minutes or until heated
through and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with sour cream.

Yield: 6 slices.

One serving: 1 slice with 1 tablespoon sour cream Calories: 285 Fat: 7 g Saturated Fat: 2 g Cholesterol: 45 mg Sodium: 923 mg Carbohydrate: 32 g Fiber: 2 g Protein: 23 g Diabetic Exchange: 2 starch, 2 very lean meat, 1 fat.
WW Points per serving: 6

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wild Beef and Rice Medley

Just seeing if you all are paying attention. This is actually the post for Beef and Wild Rice Medley. Now, I've seen a steer go wild, and I've heard of a mad cow, but I'm pretty sure that you'd be hard pressed to find cattle that have not been intentionally bred, herded, and cared for in some way...even way out on "the range". I promise that I didn't venture into the Ohio Wilderness in camo and drag this beef back to my house. So it's wild rice, not wild beef tonight. Moving on...

You've gotta love quick and easy one pot dinners. This recipe hit the spot on a cold January night and I got to use up some of the sirloin from my freezer.

I mixed the garlic powder, thyme, and cayenne pepper in a bowl.

Then I sprinkled the spices over 1 lb. of sirloin steak, cut into cubes. I cooked the steak in 1 tablespoon of oil until no longer pink.

While the steak sizzled, I chopped 1/4 cup of celery and julienned 1/4 cup of green pepper.

Toss the veggies in the skillet and cook for another 2 minutes.

Now for the hard part... dump in 1 package of wild rice mix, the seasoning packet, and the water. Whew. I almost broke a sweat.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 23-28 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Once cooked, toss in a small diced tomato and stir until heated. You're also supposed to sprinkle with chopped green onion, which, in my opinion, would have been delicious. However, I walked right past the green onions at the corner store (on a mission for milk) not even an hour before I made this and thought to myself, "I'm sure I've still got green onions." I didn't. Oh well, please imagine this with the green onions.

Dig in!

Beef and Wild Rice Medley from Light and Tasty magazine
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup julienned green pepper
2-1/4 cups water
1 package (6 ounces) long grain and wild rice mix
1 small tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped green onion

In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, thyme and cayenne. Sprinkle over beef.
In a large saucepan coated with cooking spray, cook beef in oil until no longer
pink; drain. Stir in celery and green pepper; cook 2 minutes longer or until
vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in the water and rice mix with contents of
seasoning packet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 23-28
minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in tomato; heat through. Sprinkle with

Yield: 4 servings.
One serving: 1 cup Calories: 327 Fat: 10 g Saturated Fat: 2 g Cholesterol: 63 mg Sodium: 626 mg Carbohydrate: 33 g Fiber: 1 g Protein: 26 g Diabetic Exchange: 3 lean meat, 2 starch, 1/2 fat

WW points per serving: 7

Saucy Smoked Rib Dinner

I love ribs. Sauce drippin' down to your sleeves, gnawing on the bone...what's not to love? And these ribs from Stonie's Sausage Shop in Perryville, MO are where it's at! You may remember my post about Stonie's Pork Loin from my Cracker Barrel-esque dinner back in December. The folks at Stonie's are famous for their smoked meats and let me tell ya, these were smoked to perfection.

Here's where we begin. I pulled 2 racks of smoked pork ribs out of my freezer to thaw.

Following the directions on the package, I put a little water in the baking dish, covered them with foil, and popped them into the oven at 325 degrees.

Now free to start on the sauce (recipe below), I chopped some onion and celery and sauteed in butter until tender.

I dumped in the other sauce ingredients: water, ketchup, brown sugar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and cayenne pepper.

Now give it a stir and bring it to a boil. Then I reduced the heat and let it simmer until my ribs had cooked for about an hour.

While the ribs bake and the sauce simmers, I decided to try my hand at some oven baked steak fries. I sliced up a few potatoes, brushed them with oil, and sprinkled them with seasoning salt.

An hour into the recommended cooking time, I pulled the ribs and covered them in barbecue sauce. This sauce happens to be one of my top three favorite rib/barbecue sauces. Of the other two, one is a spicy orange sauce...I didn't want to have orange over-kill after last night's Slow Cooker Orange Chicken, and I couldn't find the other sauce recipe. Not that I'm complaining, this dinner was my favorite meal this month!

I put the ribs and the steak fries in the oven for about 10-15 more minutes, then turned the ribs and stirred the fries. Back in for another 10 or so minutes, then I pulled the ribs and stuck the fries under the broiler for a bit to give em' a good crisp.

I plated it all up together with some good ol' creamy coleslaw. Finger lickin' good is an understatement.

Krista's Barbecue Sauce

1/2 finely chopped onion
1 finely chopped rib of celery
2 T butter
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
3 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T brown sugar
2 T cider vinegar
1 T lemon juice
1 T Dijon mustard
1/8 t cayenne pepper

Saute the onion and celery in butter until tender. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Brush over your ribs and bake or grill.

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

Orange chicken is one of my favorite take out Chinese menu picks, so when I found this slow cooker version it was a "must try". Perfect for Tuesday nights when I rush from my daughter's dance class to try to get dinner on the table, it was easy to put on the rice and cook a vegetable to serve alongside the tasty orange chicken.

The recipe calls for 8 small chicken thighs or 1 lb. My local meat counter had larger, bone-in chicken thighs with the skin still on. It came out to 4 thighs and I took the skin off myself, but at least I only paid $2.30/lb.

I tossed them with 3 tablespoons of flour in the slow cooker.

Now for the sauce. I combined the orange marmalade, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, and ginger in a bowl

and poured it over the chicken.

Now spread it evenly over the chicken. Set the slow cooker to LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 6-8 hours.

This is where things went a little wrong. I've found that my slow cooker tends to cook fast, so I set it on the lowest setting for 10 hours. About 4 hours later, there was a burning smell, so I went to find the source. This is what I found:

Not only was the chicken completely cooked, but the sauce was charred. Hmmm. Not sure what happened here. A friend suggested that my crock pot has a short. Maybe. Or it's possessed and cooked my little Orange Chicken thighs with the fiery flames of Hell.

Obviously, I unplugged this handy little appliance and removed my chicken to a plate, covered it up and put it into the fridge before dance class.

So what we have here is re-heated Orange Chicken with brown rice and an Asian blend vegetable medley. And it was good. Luckily the chicken was spared by the demon in my crock pot.

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

8 small boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 T. flour
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
2 T. soy sauce
1/2 t. ginger

Toss chicken with flour in slow cooker. Stir in all remaining ingredients; cover with lid. Cook on LOW 6-8 hours or HIGH 3-4 hours.

Makes 4 servings.
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