Tag Archives: Cooking Light

Mu Shu Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I tend to find Asian food intimidating. My lo mein never tastes as good as our local delivery place—it is clearly a white girl’s lame attempt at “authentic” Chinese food. So when I saw this recipe for Mu Shu Chicken Lettuce Wraps in Cooking Light, I initially just flipped the page, looking for a different recipe to try. But then I decided to go back and read through it, and I figured it seemed easy enough to give it a shot. Turns out, it was one of the tastiest things I have made in a while!

Mu Shu Chicken

Mu Shu Chicken Lettuce Wraps

2 tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp dry sherry
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 (14-oz) package coleslaw (about 4 cups)
6 oz shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast (about 1 ½ cups)
½ cup sliced green onions, divided
12 Bibb lettuce leaves
¼ cup chopped cashews

 

1. Combine first 4 ingredients (through rice vinegar) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic and ginger to pan; sauté 30 seconds.

3. Add soy sauce mixture and coleslaw; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.

4. Add chicken and ¼ cup onions to pan; cook 1 minute or until coleslaw just begins to wilt.

5. Divide chicken mixture evenly among lettuce leaves; sprinkle evenly with remaining ¼ cup onions and cashews.


Broccoli Bacon Mac and Cheese

Anyone who has a preschooler can tell you that mac and cheese is one of the main food groups. I am lucky that Olivia is a really good eater, but if she’s ever given the choice of what to eat for dinner (or lunch, or breakfast for that matter), the answer will always be mac and cheese.

So I am always looking for ways to sneak in the healthy stuff. For this Cooking Light recipe, I used veggie pasta and mixed in steamed broccoli. The smoky bacon and creamy cheese make this dish seem decadent while satisfying both a picky palate and a nutrition-minded mama.

Mac and Cheese

Broccoli Bacon Mac and Cheese

8 oz uncooked vegetable elbow macaroni
1 bag frozen chopped broccoli florets (I prefer the steam-in-the-bag variety for convenience)
1 ½ cups 1% low-fat milk
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp salt
3 pieces precooked bacon, chopped (like Hormel’s Fully Cooked Bacon)
1 ½ tsp unsalted butter
4.5 oz reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

 

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Meanwhile, steam broccoli according to the directions on the bag.

2. Combine milk and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon; cook 1-2 minutes or until crisp. Add butter to pan; swirl until butter melts. Add milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in cheese. Add pasta and broccoli to pan, stirring to coat.

Mac and Cheese

 


Cookbook Giveaway: Lighten Up, America!

Lighten Up, America!The folks at Cooking Light will release their latest cookbook, Lighten Up, America!, on October 22nd. But as a Cooking Light blogger, I got a sneak peak at some of the lighter versions of regional American favorites featured in the book. After spending an hour flipping through every page, I had bookmarked at least 50 recipes that I plan to make.

Having grown up in the south, some of my favorite dishes aren’t exactly known for their health and nutrition stats. A few recipes I have featured here—including collard greens, corn pudding, and key lime pie—get a healthy makeover in Lighten Up, America! I’m especially curious to try the corn pudding because my version is more sweet than savory, like the recipe featured in the book.

The best part about getting an advanced copy of the cookbook is that Cooking Light sent me two so that I could share one with one lucky reader!

Enter below for your chance to win your very own copy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 


2013 Taste Test Awards

The October issue of Cooking Light featured the 2013 Taste Test Awards, comprised of 41 different foods in 20 categories. The focus was on fast, convenient foods, which is perfect for my busy family. Some of the categories were really specific (like Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil and Boxed Chardonnay), but I was happy to see that some of my favorites made the cut.

I especially appreciated the fact that not every category winner was some obscure, expensive brand. I noticed that several of the winners were the Walmart Great Value and Target Market Pantry brands- both accessible and affordable.

Reading through Cooking Light’s categories and winners made me realize that there are a few categories/items that would be sure to make any list I might come up with. So, for what it’s worth, here are my additions:

1. Best Dry Spaghetti: De Cecco 

2. Best Sweet Pantry Snack: Quaker Popped Snacks in Apple Cinnamon

3. Best Greek Yogurt: (Tie) Chobani and Dannon Oikos

4. Best Low-Fat Ice Cream: Edy’s Slow Churned

5. Best Hummus/Baba Ganoush: Sabra

6. Best Fat-Free Sour Cream: Breakstone

7. Best Chewy Granola Bars: Fiber One Oats & Chocolate

8. Best Boxed Mac & Cheese: Annie’s Deluxe Whole Wheat Shells & Extra Cheesy Cheddar

9. Best Jarred Salsa: Santa Barbara Mango with Peach from Costco

10. Best Barbecue Sauce: Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Barbecue Sauce

 

What items would make your taste test list?

 


Healthy Lunch Ideas for Back to School

It’s time for back to school. For most moms, that means shopping, meal planning, and (in many cases) relief! It’s also the time we all start brainstorming fun and healthy lunch ideas so that we don’t get stuck in the sandwich rut.

Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner via Cookinglight.com

Fortunately, the September issue of Cooking Light has some easy and kid-friendly lunchbox recipes you can add to your rotation. There are lunchtime staples like PB&J made healthier, but there’s also a couscous salad, a Pizzadilla (pizza+quesadilla=genius!), and a creamy chicken salad pita.

The CL folks have also come to the rescue with 17 different grab-and-go breakfast ideas. The Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich with Mango Chutney (pictured here) looks absolutely amazing- it’s definitely going on our list!

In our house, we’re big fans of making a ton of extra breakfast sandwiches on a Sunday morning, wrapping each one up individually, and then popping them in the microwave for 30 seconds before heading out the door. It’s a quick, easy, and filling breakfast on the go.

Good luck to all the mamas who are gearing up for the back to school rush, and be sure to check back on the blog for quick and easy dinner ideas!


Shrimp Florentine with Roasted Garlic

I love when a dish is comforting and yet packed with protein and iron. Since I happened to have shrimp and spinach in my refrigerator, I went in search of a recipe that used both ingredients … that my two year old would actually eat. I found this recipe for Shrimp Florentine on Cooking Light and decided to put my own spin on it.

I used fresh spinach instead of frozen, roasted the garlic instead of caramelizing it, and added caramelized onions and goat cheese (because what isn’t better with a little goat cheese?!). The result was so tasty that my daughter didn’t even mind eating the “leaves” (i.e. any leafy green I try to sneak into a  dish).

Shrimp Florentine with Roasted Garlic

4-6 cloves garlic (skin on)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp sugar
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp butter
1/2 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/8 tsp black pepper
4 cups fresh spinach
4 cups hot cooked spaghetti (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
2 oz crumbled goat cheese

 

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Remove the outer, papery layers of the garlic, leaving the skin on the actual cloves intact. Wrap the cloves in aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool.

2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent. Sprinkle in sugar, stir, and continue cooking until the onions are very tender, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

3. To prepare shrimp, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; sauté 3 minutes or until done. Remove shrimp from pan.

4. Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Stir in milk, broth, Parmesan cheese, salt, red pepper, and black pepper. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in spinach a handful at a time until it’s all incorporated and tender. Add onions and shrimp, mixing well.

5. Slice the ends off of the cloves of roasted garlic and carefully peel the skin off.

6. Combine shrimp mixture, garlic, and pasta in a large bowl; toss well. Sprinkle with goat cheese and serve immediately.

 


Turkey Burgers with Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onions & Arugula

Turkey burgers get a bad rep for being bland and boring. But it’s really all in the mix and the toppings. When I saw this recipe for mini turkey burgers, I decided to make them big kid-sized and kick it up a notch by adding caramelized onions, mushrooms, and arugula. I also added a dash of Worcestershire to the ground turkey to give it a little more flavor. The result was a delicious, gourmet-tasting turkey burger that was full on flavor and not on fat—score!

 

Turkey Burgers with Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onions & Arugula

½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 lb ground turkey breast
1 medium yellow onion
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, at room temperature
2 cups fresh arugula
Hamburger buns
Cooking spray

 

1. Mix together the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Form the ground turkey into patties and place on a plate. Cover with foil and set aside in the frig while you cook the onions and mushrooms.

2. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add mushrooms. Sprinkle in sugar, stir, and continue cooking until the onions and mushrooms are very tender, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

3. Heat a grill pan or your grill to medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and then cook the turkey burgers for 5 minutes on each side or until done.

4. Spread the Gorgonzola evenly on each of the hamburger buns, top with a burger, onions, mushrooms, and arugula.

 

Adapted from Cooking Light


Chicken Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese

Don’t you just love a dish that is just as good cold the next day as it is the night you make it? This orzo salad from Cooking Light is delicious for dinner and also perfect for your next cookout or potluck. You can really do it with or without the chicken, but the added protein makes it a complete one-dish meal.

The only negative feedback I got on this dish was from my two-year-old who didn’t appreciate that I was giving her “leaves” for dinner (there’s arugula in the salad)! To appease your picky eaters, you can always swap out the tomatoes, red peppers, and arugula for other veggies they like—zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, asparagus, or mushrooms would also be great in this dish!

Chicken Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese

1 ¼ cups uncooked orzo
3 cups chopped grilled chicken breast strips (use the frozen, pre-cooked kind to save time)
1 ½ cups arugula
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup chopped red bell pepper (I roasted mine ahead of time, but raw works too)
¼ cup chopped red onion
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
6 tbsp (1 ½ ounces) crumbled goat cheese (or more if you’re like me!)

 

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well.

2. Combine pasta, chicken, and the next 6 ingredients (through oregano) in a large bowl; toss well.

3. Combine vinegar, oil, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle vinegar mixture over pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.


Spicy Grilled Shrimp and Quinoa Salad

When I saw this recipe in the April 2013 issue of Cooking Light, it immediately went on our menu for the following week. I love making quinoa because it’s such a healthy, nutrient-packed grain and, luckily, my two year old can’t get enough of it! So I was eager to try this spicy grilled shrimp with quinoa salad because it was different than any other dish I had tried thus far. I did cut back just a little bit on the spice because neither I nor Olivia can hang with the heat, and I made a couple of other small adjustments to the original recipe—like more cilantro mixed right into the salad.

While this dish was delicious for dinner, I have to say that the leftovers were even better for lunch the next day after the flavors had really meshed together.

Spicy Grilled Shrimp and Quinoa Salad

¼ cup fresh lime juice, divided
10 tsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin, divided
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp hot pepper sauce
¼ tsp smoked paprika
4 garlic cloves, chopped and divided
24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 lb)
¾ cup uncooked quinoa
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup water
½ tsp kosher salt, divided
½ tsp honey
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup diced peeled avocado
1 oz reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled
Cooking spray
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

 

1. Preheat grill to high heat.

2. Combine 2 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp olive oil, chili powder, ½ tsp cumin, black pepper, hot sauce, paprika, and 2 garlic cloves in a medium bowl. Add shrimp; toss well. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.

3. Rinse and drain quinoa. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add remaining 2 garlic cloves and quinoa; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 13 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Cool. Combine remaining 2 tbsp lime juice, remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, remaining ½ tsp cumin, ¼ tsp salt, and honey in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add quinoa mixture, tomatoes, chickpeas, avocado, ¼ cup cilantro and cheese; toss gently.

4. Remove shrimp from bowl; discard marinade. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining ¼ tsp salt. Thread 3 shrimp onto each of 8 (6-inch) skewers. Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 2 minutes on each side or until done.

5. Divide quinoa mixture evenly among 4 plates. Top each serving with 2 skewers. Garnish with remaining cilantro.


Spring Vegetable Pasta with a Lemon Cream Sauce

Since this little human I am growing has left me utterly exhausted recently, I haven’t been doing much adventurous cooking or trying many new recipes. Now that I’m in my second trimester, both my energy and my cooking are making a comeback.

I recently tried this Spring Vegetable Penne from the most recent issue of Cooking Light and LOVED it. The lemon cream sauce is both comforting and bright at the same time, and the veggies are perfect in it.  The only thing I might do differently next time is grill the asparagus for some extra flavor (and just because I can, since it’s finally nice out).

Spring Vegetable Pasta with a Lemon Cream Sauce

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
1 (4 oz) package presliced mushrooms
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
½ cup half-and-half
¾ cup frozen green peas
3 tbsp shaved Parmesan cheese, divided
½ tsp grated lemon rind
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 oz uncooked penne (I used vegetable pasta, hence the reddish color)
1 pound (1 in) diagonally cut asparagus

 

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion and mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add thyme and garlic; sauté 1 minute.

2. Sprinkle mushroom mixture evenly with flour; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

3. Stir in broth and half-and-half; cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add peas, 2 tablespoons cheese, rind, and next 3 ingredients (through pepper); cook 1 minute or until peas are thoroughly heated.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. During the last 3 minutes of cooking, add asparagus to pot; drain.

5. Add pasta mixture to mushroom mixture; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon cheese.