Monday, December 26, 2011

Cauliflower and Cheddar Cheese Casserole

I often forget to include cauliflower in my diet, but when I make this decadent, cheesy side dish I'm as happy as a gal can be. According to my Food Benefits Chart, cauliflower helps to combat breast and prostate cancer, strengthen bones, banish bruises and guard against heart disease. Great credentials for a bland looking veggie that dresses up beautifully and stars in this casserole.

Cauliflower and Cheddar Casserole

1 head of cauliflower separated into florettes, cooked and cooled (I microwave for 3-4 minutes on high)

1 can cream of celery soup (I use low fat, low sodium)

1 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese shredded

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1 T chopped onion (I use the frozen that comes in a bag)

2 large eggs beaten

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 T hot sauce

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 T butter (optional)

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare baking pan with cooking spray. I like to bake this in a soufflet dish, but an 8x8 square pan would work fine. Combine all ingredients (from cooked cauliflower to hot sauce) in a bowl. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and top with Panko. If you're feeling decadent, break apart a tablespoon of butter and add to the top of the bread crumbs.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. You'll have a creamy, delicious side dish that goes well with any protein you decide to serve it with. I enjoyed mine with a mushroom, onion and pepper meat loaf with store bought, low-cal mushroom gravy. I highly recommend this simple casserole. I promise you'll eat it up! And it re-heats like a dream.

Friday, December 23, 2011

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Here's a quick, inexpensive, last-minute holiday food gift that's a crowd pleaser and a snap to make (2 ingredients!!). A gal at work brought some in today that were store-bought and delish. However, after one bite I knew I could duplicate these minty bites of heaven or even make them better.

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

24 oz white chocolate (I used Nestle chips)
1 cup peppermint candy crushed (I used Peppermint Starlights but I think good old candy canes would do the trick)

In top of double boiler add the white chocolate chips and melt. Make sure the water beneath is at a gentle simmer and the water does not touch the top pan. Stir until chips are melted. This takes about 2-4 minutes.

Add the crushed peppermint candies and stir to combine.

Pour the warm chocolate mixture on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper. Spread out to the full width of the sheet pan (you don't want your bark to be too thick). Set aside and let cool for 45-60 minutes. Break up into pieces and serve.

Or do what I'm going to do- run out first thing tomorrow and buy some decorative cookie bags, tie them with ribbons and pass them around to friends and acquaintances I might have forgotten.

Happy Holidays to all!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Crispy Taters

I'm always a fan of baking instead of frying, so tonight I made some mouth-watering, creamy on the inside, crunchy on the outside baked potato wedges that are as delicious (if not better) than their cousins that are deep fried. These are a must try.

Tastes-Like-Fried Potato Wedges
Serves two

cooking spray
1 large Russet potato
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup French's Fried Onions crushed
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking pan with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Set aside. Cut potato into six wedges.

Mix mayonnaise with hot sauce and spices, then coat potato wedges with mixture.

In separate plate combine Panko with Onion crisps. Lightly coat potatoes with this mixture and place on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake 45 minutes. Serve with salsa, sour cream, ranch dressing or any saucy accompaniment you desire. This recipe is simply too good to not try.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

'Tis the Season to be Nibblin'

I don't go to many cocktail parties these days, but if you're a reader of this blog you know I love little bites and appetizers more than a big, sit-down meal. Here's a recipe I treated myself to last night that is perfect when friends come over for cocktails or as an accompaniment to a nicely dressed green salad or a simple butternut squash soup (recipe for soup to follow). I can't decide if this nibble is a bread or an egg dish, but I can tell you it's yummy and certainly not on my diet.

Turkey Bacon, Egg and Cheese Nibbles

1 stick unsalted butter
4 eggs
1 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup AP flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 slices turkey bacon cooked and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
6 oz shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese blend (I like Sargento)

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter and cool. Pour cooled butter into a large bowl, add eggs and egg substitute and beat well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined. Pour into 8 x 8 inch pan prepared with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and bake 30 minutes more. Let cool ten minutes and slice into 16 servings. Serve warm or at room temperature. Doesn't this look tasty?

It's always nice when your friends are gardeners and you're a willing candidate to accept any produce they give you. Earlier in the week I confronted 2 baby butternut squash on my countertop and decided the time was right to make a soup. I perused the internet and found about 10 different recipes that looked enticing, but I ended up using my instincts and came up with a tasty soup that can be prepared in under 30 minutes.

Quick Butternut Squash Soup

2 baby butternut squash, peeled and seeded
2 T butter
1 medium onion diced
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 cans (14.5 each) low sodium, fat free chicken stock
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cut squash into 1 inch chunks and set aside. In large pot melt butter, add onions and cook on low until translucent (8 minutes). Add squash and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender (15-20 minutes). Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove from heat, take a potato masher and squash the squash. You can also put the mixture in a blender to puree. Serve hot with Bacon, Egg and Cheese Nibbles.