recipes, food and cooking

January 2006

Happy New Year Everyone!

     Mary Ellen        

recipe newsletter

RECIPES FOR JANUARY - STEWS

BEEF STEW WITH TOMATOES AND CHIPOTLE PEPPERS  

3 pounds chuck roast, cut into large (2- to 2 1/2-inch) chunks
Salt and black pepper
Oil for searing
1 medium onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup red wine
2 chipotle peppers with some of their adobo sauce, minced
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes in juice

Season meat well with salt and pepper. Sear in the oil inside the pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat until well-browned. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, wine, chipotles and tomatoes with their juice. Stir well, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pan. Lock on the lid and bring to full pressure over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and maintain pressure for 20 minutes. Allow pressure to drop naturally.

Per serving: 546 calories (percent of calories from fat, 67), 37 grams protein, 7 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 40 grams fat (15 grams saturated), 131 milligrams cholesterol, 164 milligrams sodium.

BURGUNDY BEEF AND VEGETABLE STEW

1 1/2 pounds beef eye round
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
13 3/4-ounce can ready-to-serve beef broth
1/2 cup Burgundy wine
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups baby carrots
1 cup frozen whole pearl onions
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
8-ounce package frozen sugar-snap peas

Trim fat from the beef and cut into ½-inch pieces. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add beef (half at a time) and brown evenly, stirring occasionally. Pour off drippings. Season with thyme, salt and pepper. Stir in broth, wine and garlic. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Cover tightly and simmer for 1½ hours.

Add carrots and onions. Cover and continue cooking for 35 to 40 minutes or until beef and vegetables are tender.

Bring beef stew to a boil over medium-high heat. Add cornstarch mixture; cook and stir 1 minute. Stir in sugar-snap peas.

Reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, or until peas are heated through.

Makes 6 servings

Nutrition information per serving: 220 cal., 6 g total fat (1.4 g saturated), 50 mg chol., 567 mg sodium, 11 g carbo., 3 g dietary fiber, 29 pro.

FOURTEEN VEGETABLE STEW WITH PORK

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound pork tenderloin, cut into ¾-inch pieces
1 medium orange-flesh sweet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium white-skinned waxy potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups shelled fresh or frozen lima beans (not baby limas)
2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups small cauliflower florets (about ½ a medium head)
1 1/2 cups chopped green cabbage (about ¼ head)
1 cup diced Spanish onion
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed, cut in half
1 medium celery rib, cut into 1-inch slices
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 cups peeled and cubed eggplant (about ½ a small eggplant)
6 white button mushrooms, cleaned and halved
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, loosely packed
1 cup tomato juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne, or to taste

In a large Dutch oven or large, heavy pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the pork for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until browned on all sides. Transfer the pork to a plate. In the same pan, layer the vegetables, pork and seasonings in the following order: sweet potato, white potato, lima beans, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, onion, bell pepper, green beans, celery, tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, pork, garlic, bay leaf and parsley.

In a small bowl mix the tomato juice, tomato paste, paprika, oregano, basil, Worcestershire sauce, salt and black pepper to taste, and cayenne. Pour over the vegetables.

Cover and bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the pork and vegetables are tender. Adjust the seasonings and remove the bay leaf. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Nutrition information per serving: 355 cal., 7 g total fat (less than 1 g saturated), 56 g carbo., 23 g pro., 15 g dietary fiber, 376 mg sodium.

CREOLE STYLE PORK STEW

1/2 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chopped onions (about 1 large onion)
1 cup chopped celery
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
4 links andouille smoked sausage, chopped (about 1 pound, 2 cups)
2 tablespoons minced or chopped garlic (about 4 large cloves)
4 cups chicken stock or 1 carton (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne), depending on personal taste
2 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hot pepper sauce or white vinegar
4 cups cooked long-grain white rice

Make a roux by heating oil in large, heavy pot over low heat. Stir in flour; cook and stir over low heat until mixture turns a rich red-brown color (about 20 to 25 minutes). Remove from heat; carefully stir in onion, celery, bell pepper and about 1 cup chopped sausage. Return pot to heat; cook and stir 5 minutes over medium heat. Stir in garlic, chicken stock or broth and tomato paste. Add Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, sage, oregano and cayenne pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Add pork pieces and reduce heat to simmer; cook uncovered for about 1 1/2 hours or until pork is tender. Stir in remaining chopped sausage; cook 5 minutes more to heat through. (At this stage, if you do not want to serve right away, stew may be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Discard bay leaves and skim any visible fat, if desired. Add salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce to taste. To serve, spoon 1/2 cup rice into shallow soup bowls; ladle some of pork mixture over top. Add more hot pepper sauce, if desired.

Option: Add 1 pound okra cut into 1/2-inch pieces during the last 20 minutes of cooking time.

Makes 8 servings

Nutrition information per serving, without having skimmed off fat: 692 cal., 42 g fat (13 g saturated), 104 mg chol., 1,234 mg sodium, 38 g carbo., 38 g pro., 2 g fiber.

SAUSAGE STEW WITH WHITE BEANS

1/2 pound dried cannellini (Great Northern) beans (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups hot water
2 leaves fresh sage
1 clove garlic plus 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
8 Italian sausages
1 large red onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons white wine
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
Salt
Pepper
2 cups polenta

In a large saucepan, combine the dried beans and hot water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Cover and let sit for 1 hour. Drain the beans and return to the pot.

Add the sage, whole garlic clove and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil just until the beans are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain. Discard the garlic and save. Set the beans aside.

Puncture the sausages with a fork so that they will release their fat as they cook.

In a large pot, cook the sausages with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over high heat until browned. Set the sausages aside. Discard the juices from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the onion, bay leaf and remaining 1/2 cup olive oil and cook just until the onion begins to soften. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook for another 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the tomatoes, and return the sausages to the pot.

Cover the pot and cook for about 30 minutes, checking and stirring often to prevent sticking. If the stew become too dry or begins to stick, add 1/4 cup water. When the stew is almost ready, add the reserved beans and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the stew with a large spoonful of polenta.

Note: The stew can also be made without the beans.

Makes 4 servings.

CHICKEN FRICASSEE

1 large chicken, cut up
All-purpose flour
1 cup cooking oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 1/2 quarts water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped green onion tops
Cooked rice

Dredge chicken in flour and brown in hot oil. Remove chicken and brown onions in oil.

Return chicken to pot and add about 1 1/2 quarts water and seasoning. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, stirring to be sure it does not stick. The gravy should be thick. Ten minutes before serving, add 1 tablespoon each of chopped parsley and chopped onion tops. Serve over cooked rice.

Makes 4-6 servings

CHICKEN AND VEGETABLE STEW

32-ounce container fat-free chicken broth
4 skinned, bone-in chicken breast halves (about 2 1/4 pounds)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
14-ounce package frozen white corn
16-ounce package frozen baby lima beans
14 1/2-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup chopped country ham
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon dried marjoram

Bring broth to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken, onion and celery, and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from pan, and let cool slightly. Remove chicken from bones, discarding bones; shred chicken.

Add corn, lima beans, tomatoes, ketchup, ham, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, marjoram and chicken to Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until beans are tender.

Nutrition information per serving: 289 cal., 2 g total fat (0.55 g saturated), 33 g pro., 35 g carbo., 6 g fiber, 62 mg chol., 721 mg sodium.

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BRUNCH

DAY BEFORE BLUEBERRY FRENCH TOAST

1 loaf French bread
6 eggs
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2 pints fresh (or 4 cups frozen) blueberries, divided
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
2 cups maple-flavored table syrup

The day or evening before serving, cut bread into 1-inch slices. Place in a single layer in a lightly oiled or buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Break eggs into a mixing bowl, beat slightly and then mix in milk and vanilla extract. Pour egg mixture over bread, cover and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle brown sugar over bread, then top with 1 pint (2 cups) of the blueberries and the chopped nuts. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the bread has puffed slightly.

In a small saucepan, heat the syrup and remaining blueberries over medium heat. Pass with the French toast.

Makes 8 servings

Per serving, without syrup: 369 calories (33 percent from fat), 14 grams fat, 118 milligrams cholesterol, 52 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams protein, 355 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

OVEN BAKED PRALINE FRENCH TOAST

8 slices French bread, cut about 3/4-inch thick
6 eggs
1 cup half-and-half or 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

Place bread in single layer in 13-by-9-by-2-inch ovenproof glass baking dish.

Blend together eggs, half-and-half, sugar, Grand Marnier or orange juice, vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Pour over bread in baking dish, turning bread once to coat evenly.

Refrigerate soaking bread, covered, several hours or overnight.

Place 1/3 cup butter in a 15-by-10-inch jellyroll pan or a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan. Put pan in oven to melt butter. Remove from oven and tilt pan to distribute butter evenly.

Remove soaking bread from the refrigerator and arrange bread in a single layer in butter-coated pan.

Bake uncovered at 400 F for about 25 minutes or until firm and golden brown.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter and mix with pecans and brown sugar. Sprinkle sugared pecans over baked French toast.

Return to oven and bake for additional 5 minutes or until sugar starts to bubble.

Makes 4 servings.

CRUNCHY GRANOLA

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not the quick-cooking variety)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup oat bran
3 to 4 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice or cider
3 to 4 tablespoons honey, warmed
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or almond or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter or oil a baking sheet.

Stir the oats, almonds, wheat germ, whole-wheat flour, oat bran, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ginger together in a large bowl. Whisk the apple juice, honey, vanilla and butter together in a small bowl. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, then toss well to mix.

Spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet. Bake about 45 minutes, stirring granola well every 15 minutes, until it's a shade browner than it started and dry to the touch. (It will become crisper as it cools.)

Cool on the baking sheet, break up any large pieces, then store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Makes 6 cups

Per 1/2-cup serving: 196 calories (percent of calories from fat, 31), 6 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 8 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 6 milligrams cholesterol, 92 milligrams sodium.

• Fruited granola: Mix your choice of dried fruit into the granola after it comes from the oven. Raisins, currants or dried cranberries can be stirred in whole. Cut larger fruit into small bits. For an offbeat fruit, try dried mango, found in natural food stores and Asian groceries.

• Morning Glorious Fruited Parfait: Layer fruit (such as raspberries, blueberries, sliced bananas, sliced peaches, sliced strawberries or a combination of soft-textured bite-size fruit) with plain or vanilla yogurt and granola. Garnish with fresh mint, if desired.

APPLE PANCAKES WITH MAPLE APPLE SAUCE

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1 cup grated apple

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and nutmeg in mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix baking soda, egg, butter, vanilla and milk. Combine both mixtures, stirring only until blended. Fold in grated apple.

Using about ¼ cup of batter for each pancake, pour batter onto hot, lightly greased griddle to bake. When top of each pancake shows full of holes, turn to brown on other side. Turn pancakes only once while cooking.

Maple-Apple Sauce
2 teaspoons butter
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/8 cup dark corn syrup
Dash of salt

Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and saute until just brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add maple syrup and corn syrup to apples and stir gently. Let cook another 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture thickens. Serve with Apple Pancakes.

Makes 4 servings.

GIANT CINNAMON ROLLS

Dough:
2 packages yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups warm water, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
8 1/2 to 9 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

Glaze:
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 4 tablespoons milk

To make the dough: Dissolve yeast and 2 tablespoons sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. Place 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl. Scald milk and pour over butter. Stir to melt. Stir in remaining 1 cup warm water. Stir in the yeast mixture. Stir in eggs. Stir in salt and 5 cups flour. Gradually stir in 3 cups more flour. Turn out onto a heavily floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding remaining flour as necessary to prevent dough from sticking. Place dough in a greased or buttered bowl, cover with a piece of greased or buttered plastic wrap or with a damp towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.

To make the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir in the butter, first with a spoon, then using your fingers, until well-combined.

Turn out risen dough onto a smooth surface and pat or roll into a large rectangle, about 26 inches by 20 inches. Using a flat-bladed spatula, spread with cinnamon mixture. Cut into 20 1-inch strips. Starting at closest end, roll up, tucking outside edge underneath. Place rolls 2 inches apart on baking sheets that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls until lightly browned, 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven.

To make the glaze: In a medium bowl, stir together the confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and enough milk to make a just-pourable mixture. Drizzle over rolls. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Makes 20 Rolls

Per roll: 497 calories (percent of calories from fat, 27), 7 grams protein, 84 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 15 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 57 milligrams cholesterol, 377 milligrams sodium.

CRISP CRUSTED FEATHER LIGHT RAISED WAFFLES

1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (115 degrees)
2 cups warm whole milk (115 degrees)
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, melted
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

In a very large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast on the warm water and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the milk, butter, sugar, salt and flour and beat until smooth. (A hand beater does this well.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand overnight; if your house is no warmer than 70 degrees, you can leave it at room temperature; otherwise, refrigerate.

When you are ready to cook the waffles, preheat the waffle iron and beat in the eggs and baking soda. The batter will be thin. Bake in waffle iron until brown, and serve immediately.

Per serving: 277 calories (percent of calories from fat, 49), 7 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 15 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 93 milligrams cholesterol, 470 milligrams sodium.

CHEESE AND SPINACH QUICHE

2 bunches (about 1 pound) spinach, trimmed and well rinsed
3 large eggs, beaten
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
9-inch deep-dish pie crust, raw

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place the spinach in a large pot with a cover. Cover and heat the spinach over a medium flame and steam, using the water clinging to the leaves, for 5 minutes, or until wilted.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the eggs, scallions, both cheeses, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Use tongs to press out all liquid from the spinach, chop spinach finely and add to the egg mixture. Stir well. Spoon the mixture into the pie crust. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the center is firm and the top golden.

Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

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CASSEROLES

CHICKEN STRATA

8 slices bread (day-old is fine)
2 cups cooked chicken or turkey, cubed
1/2 cup (about 1 medium) onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup (about 4 stalks) celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup (about 1 medium) green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 3/4 cups milk
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
4 ounces (about 1 cup) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Grease a 9-inch square or 9-by-13-inch baking dish (the casserole will cook a little faster in the larger dish). Cut 3 slices of bread into 1/2-inch cubes; place in a plastic bag and set aside. Cut remaining bread into 1-inch cubes. Place half these cubes in the prepared dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine chicken, onion, celery, bell pepper, mayonnaise and salt and pepper. Spoon over the bread cubes. Sprinkle the other half of 1-inch bread cubes over the chicken mixture. In the mixing bowl, combine eggs and milk; pour over the casserole. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for several hours.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Sprinkle casserole with reserved bread cubes. Spoon condensed cream of mushroom soup evenly over the top. Bake for 50 minutes, then top with the cheddar cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until casserole is slightly puffy. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 servings

Per serving: 502 calories (percent of calories from fat, 57), 28 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 32 grams fat, 163 milligrams cholesterol, 1,188 milligrams sodium.

STUFFED EGGPLANT

2 large eggplants
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can chicken broth
1 pound ground turkey
2 medium zucchini, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil packed), diced
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 (16-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut stems off eggplant, then cut in half lengthwise. With a large spoon, scoop out insides and chop. Cut small slice off bottom of each eggplant half so they sit nicely on a plate. Set aside.

In large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté onions in broth until soft.

Add turkey and sauté until brown and cooked through. Add chopped eggplant, zucchini, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms, lower to medium heat. Sauté for a few minutes.

Add canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir until tomato paste is mixed in well. The mixture should look moist; if it isn't, add more broth or canned tomatoes. Add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste.

Place the eggplant "shells" in a lightly oiled baking dish. Fill with the turkey mixture, heaping. If there is extra filling, put it in a separate baking dish. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of each eggplant.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes.

Makes 8 servings

Per serving: 202 calories (percent of calories from fat, 28), 18 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 6 grams fat, 41 milligrams cholesterol, 552 milligrams sodium.

CHICKEN CASSEROLE

1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (16-ounce) container light or regular sour cream
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
1 1/2 cups crushed club, townhouse or Ritz crackers
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch-square baking dish or 2-quart casserole. In a medium bowl, combine soup, sour cream, poppy seeds and sugar. Add chicken and mix thoroughly. Pour into baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine crushed crackers and melted butter or margarine. Sprinkle over top of chicken. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Makes 6 servings

Per serving: 389 calories (percent of calories from fat, 62), 20 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 27 grams fat (14 grams saturated), 93 milligrams cholesterol, 760 milligrams sodium.

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CHICKEN RECIPES

CHICKEN FRANCESE

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds split skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 cups chicken stock
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

Place flour in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Heat the olive oil in a skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture, then dip it in the egg, evenly coating the breast. Cook the chicken in the oil, flipping once, cooking each side until it's golden brown.

Take the chicken from the pan and set aside. Deglaze the pan with water so the sauce remains clear. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and reduce by half. Add the butter and place the chicken back in the sauce. Reduce to a simmer and cover the pan to finish cooking the chicken all the way through.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 457 calories (percent of calories from fat, 46), 44 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 23 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 223 milligrams cholesterol, 400 milligrams sodium.

CHICKEN SCARAPIELLO

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup white wine
3 ounces mild or hot Italian sausage, cooked and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 small red potatoes, cubed and roasted
1 to 2 hot cherry peppers, sliced
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3/4 cup Chicken Veloute Sauce

Chicken Veloute Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock

Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in the stock, 1/2 cup at a time. Whisk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Place flour in a bag with some salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and saute 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and saute just until garlic begins to brown, but do not burn. Add white wine and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until liquid is reduced by half. Add sausage, potatoes, peppers and rosemary and saute for 2 minutes. Add veloute sauce and cook 2 to 3 minutes.

Note: To roast potatoes, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the cleaned potatoes into cubes (you do not have to peel them first), toss them in a generously oiled baking dish and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, until tender.

Makes 2 servings

Per serving (with sauce): 625 calories (percent of calories from fat, 53), 37 grams protein, 32 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 35 grams fat (18 grams saturated), 152 milligrams cholesterol, 1,670 milligrams sodium.

"GREEK" STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS

1/4 cup diced onion
2 cups coarsely chopped baby spinach
2 tablespoons pitted and chopped Kalamata or other Greek olives
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

In a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat, saute onion until it begins to soften. Add the spinach and saute until wilted. Remove from heat and add olives and feta cheese and stir well to combine. Remove from skillet and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, using a paring knife, cut a pocket in the side of the thickest part of the breast, a bit more than halfway through the width and length of the breast. Make sure not to poke through the meat. Stuff each breast with half the spinach mixture. Use toothpicks or a wooden skewer to close the flap.

Wipe the skillet with a paper towel. Lightly oil and return to medium heat. Add stuffed breasts to skillet, cover and cook for 4 minutes. Turn chicken and cook for another 4 minutes. Reduce heat under skillet to low and continue to cook, turning for even browning, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Makes 2 servings

Per serving: 198 calories (percent of calories from fat, 30), 30 grams protein, 4 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 6 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 82 milligrams cholesterol, 381 milligrams sodium.

CHEESY SOUR CREAM HERB CHICKEN

1 1/2 cups dry herb-seasoned stuffing
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine stuffing, cheese and butter. Stir well to combine and moisten, breaking up any large stuffing pieces. Transfer to a plate or pie pan.

Lightly spread sour cream over chicken and coat with stuffing mixture, pressing well to adhere. Place on a lightly oiled, foil-lined 13-by-9-inch baking sheet. Put any extra mixture on top of chicken. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the coating is crisp and the chicken is cooked through.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 369 calories (percent of calories from fat, 48), 33 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 19 grams fat (11 grams saturated), 110 milligrams cholesterol, 633 milligrams sodium.

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DESSERTS

BROWNIE TRIFLE

1 box plain brownie mix for a 9-by-13-inch pan
2 tablespoons Kahlua coffee liqueur
2 (3.9-ounce) boxes instant chocolate or chocolate fudge pudding
4 cups milk
1 (10-ounce) bag Heath Bits 'O Brickle toffee bits
1 (16-ounce) container whipped topping

Prepared brownies according to package directions. While brownies are still warm, brush with Kahlua. Cool, then cut into 1-inch squares. Prepare pudding as directed on box, using 4 cups milk, but do not chill.

Place half the brownies in the bottom of a trifle dish or a glass salad bowl with straight sides. Cover with half the chocolate pudding, then cover with half the toffee bits. Cover with half the whipped topping. Repeat layers of brownie, pudding, toffee bits (reserving 2 tablespoons for top) and whipped topping. Refrigerate overnight. Before serving, sprinkle top with reserved toffee bits.

Tester's tip: Instead of whipped topping, substitute 2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks with 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar.

Per serving: 254 calories (percent of calories from fat, 33), 3 grams protein, 39 grams carbohydrates, no fiber, 9 grams fat (6 grams saturated, 4 milligrams cholesterol, 268 milligrams sodium.

COCONUT LAYER CAKE

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (extra-fine is best)
3/4 cup cream of coconut
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, separated, room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 8-inch cake pans, or butter and line bottoms with buttered parchment paper. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the cream of coconut and beat until fluffy. Add the vanilla and then the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions. Add the flour mixture in two or three additions, alternating with the buttermilk and mixing just until combined. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Fold into the cake batter. Divide the batter between the pans and bake until center springs back when lightly touched and cake is just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks, removing from the pans when they are cool enough to handle.

Half-and-Half Frosting:

1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cream of coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract

Using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add the confectioners' sugar, and then beat in the cream of coconut, vanilla and coconut extracts. Set aside.

Coconut Topping:
3 cups flaked sweetened coconut
2 teaspoons cream of coconut

In a small bowl, toss coconut with cream of coconut and set aside.

For the custard:
1 1/4 cups flaked sweetened coconut
2 tablespoons cream of coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
Salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a small bowl, combine coconut, cream of coconut and vanilla; set aside. In a small saucepan, stir together sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt until no lumps remain. Add the cream and butter and stir over low heat until the butter melts. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is boiling and thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut mixture.

To assemble the cake: Slice each layer in half horizontally. Place one layer, cut side up, on a serving platter and spread with ? of the warm custard. Top with another layer, cut side up, and spread with another ? of the custard. Top with another layer, cut side up, and spread with remaining custard. Top with final cake layer, cut side down. Frost top and sides with a thin layer of Half-and-Half Frosting. Gently press top and sides of frosted cake with Coconut Topping.

10 servings

Per serving: 912 calories (percent of calories from fat, 50), 7 grams protein, 109 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 52 grams fat (35 grams saturated), 164 milligrams cholesterol, 340 milligrams sodium.

GRANDMA'S RED VELVET CAKE

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Coca-Cola
1 teaspoon coffee
2 (1-ounce) bottles red food coloring
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Ganache:
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon cognac or brandy (optional)

Frosting:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar
Dash salt
1/3 cup chocolate ganache
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

To make the cake: In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt and stir to blend. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat eggs and oil. Add Coca-Cola, coffee, food coloring and vanilla and mix to combine. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Divide equally into pans. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pans and cool completely on a rack.

To make the ganache: Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, heat cream and butter just to boiling. Pour over chocolate and allow it to stand for 2 minutes. Add cognac and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool.

To make the frosting: With an electric mixer, cream butter and cream cheese. On low speed, gradually add sugar. Scrape down beater and sides of bowl and stir to incorporate. Increase speed and beat well to combine. Add salt, ganache and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Top with frosting. Add second layer and frost top and sides of cake.

Makes 12 servings

Per serving: 646 calories (percent of calories from fat, 42), 7 grams protein, 90 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 31 grams fat (14 grams saturated), 76 milligrams cholesterol, 429 milligrams sodium.

MURPHY'S BONZO CAKE

For the brownie:
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
3 eggs
1 cup cake flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder

For the cheesecake:
1 pound, 5 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate mousse:
1 pound and 3.5 ounces (4 cups) semisweet 56 percent chocolate, chopped
10 pasteurized egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 cups heavy cream

To prepare the brownie: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 10-inch baking pan with 3-inch sides with parchment paper and spray the sides with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine chocolate chips and sugar. Add melted butter and mix with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and stir after each addition until well-combined. Sift the cake flour and cocoa and add to the mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beaters to combine. Mix until it is a smooth paste. Pour into the baking pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until the center springs back when pressed.

Let the brownie cool completely, then run a knife around the edges to loosen and remove from pan. Turn upside down into a clean 10-inch baking pan with 3-inch sides lined with parchment or a similar size springform pan.

To prepare the cheesecake: Preheat oven to 285 degrees.

With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese. Add sugar and continue to mix. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beaters to combine and eliminate lumps.

Add the eggs one at a time and stir after each addition. Add vanilla extract and mix 1 minute. Pour on top of the cooked brownie in cake pan. Bake the cheesecake/brownie on a rimmed sheet or baking pan in a 1/2 inch water bath for 45 minutes. The top should feel firm to the touch. Let cool completely.

To prepare the chocolate mousse: In a double boiler or bowl over simmering water, melt the chocolate. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Slowly alternate the addition of cream and melted chocolate to the egg yolks. Beat until soft peaks form. Pour the chocolate mousse on top of the cheesecake (you might have some extra mousse). Smooth the surface to avoid air pockets.

Refrigerate until the mousse sets, about 3 hours. If not using a springform pan, run a knife around the edges to loosen. Heat the bottom and the sides of the pan on the stovetop for a few seconds. Turn it upside down on a piece of plastic and cardboard. Shake the pan, and the cake should slowly come out. Flip it back on a piece of cardboard or serving plate and remove the plastic.

Makes 16 servings

Per serving: 652 calories (percent of calories from fat, 63), 8 grams protein, 56 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 48 grams fat (28 grams saturated), 260 milligrams cholesterol, 217 milligrams sodium.

CHERRY ANGEL TRIFLE

1 package (3-ounces) sugar-free cherry gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 prepared angel food cake (10-inch), torn into 1-inch cubes
1 can (20-ounces) light cherry pie filling
1 carton (12-ounces) Fat-Free Cool Whip

Dissolve gelatin in water; refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Place half of the cake cubes into a 3-quart trifle or clear glass serving bowl or dish (used so the beauty of the dessert shows thru). Dribble half the gelatin over cake cubes.

Spoon half of cherry pie filling evenly over top. Repeat layer.

Chill for at least one-hour. Top with Cool Whip.

Recipe makes 16 servings.

Nutritional information per serving:
Calories: 150 Fat: trace Protein: 3g Carbohydrates: 33g Sodium: 219mg Diabetic Exchanges: 1-1/2 starch, 1 fruit

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COOKING WITH CHEESE

Grate or crumble cheese instead of slicing — sliced cheese tends to form a dense, rubbery layer, while grated cheese separates in delicate strands.

Cook cheese as briefly and gently as possible, or else incorporate it into a stable base such as a sauce.

Combining cheese with other ingredients tends to mellow the flavor, so use flavorful cheeses in cooking, even if they're a little stronger than what you would munch on.

The more aged the cheese the grainier the melting texture; the younger, the creamier.

Cheese is easier to grate, crumble and slice when refrigerated; if you want to mash or spread it, bring it to room temperature.

Cooking with cheese is a great way to enjoy some of your favorite cheese without getting a lot of fat and calories; remember that fat in cheese is measured in dry matter, so as a general rule a high-moisture cheese such as Brie is not as high in fat as the percentage indicated; while drier cheeses, such as aged cheddar, are higher, but their more intense flavor means you can use less.

1/2 lb. of cheese makes about 2 cups grated.

Source: Whole Foods

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QUICK AND EASY RECIPES

HONEY GLAZED SALMON

3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger or to taste
3 4- to 6-ounce salmon fillets

In a bowl, combine honey, sesame oil, soy sauce and ginger. Add salmon and marinate for 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes. Remove salmon from marinade, reserving the liquid.

Meanwhile, preheat a lightly oiled grill to medium-hot.

Place the salmon on the grill and brush with marinade. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes, turn and grill for 3 to 5 minutes, or just until cooked through.

3 servings

Per serving: 189 calories (percent of calories from fat, 43), 23 grams protein, 4 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 9 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 59 milligrams cholesterol, 93 milligrams sodium.

BEEF AND BROCCOLI STIR FRY

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/4 pounds sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups broccoli florets
1/3 cup stir-fry sauce (store bought)

In a large, well-oiled wok or skillet over medium-high heat, add the garlic and beef and stir-fry for 1 minute. Remove to a plate. Add the bell pepper and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the broccoli and 1/3 cup water. Cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until broccoli is crisp-tender. Uncover and return the steak and its juices and the stir-fry sauce to the pan. Stir-fry until heated through.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 340 calories (percent of calories from fat, 52), 30 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 20 grams fat (8 grams saturated), 89 milligrams cholesterol, 800 milligrams sodium.

MONGOLIAN BEEF

1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
3 packets chicken ramen noodles
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen stir-fry vegetables

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef and onion. Drain, transfer to a bowl and stir in 1 ramen seasoning packet. Set aside.

In the same skillet, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add the remaining 2 seasoning packets and stir to combine. Add the ramen noodles and return to a boil. Turn the noodles to break up and soften. Add the vegetables and meat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the veggies and noodles are done.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 361 calories (percent of calories from fat, 45), 20 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 18 grams fat (8 grams saturated), 52 milligrams cholesterol, 646 milligrams sodium.

NAKED BURRITO

2 (8.8-ounce) packages Uncle Ben's Ready Rice, or 4 cups cooked rice
1 (15-ounce) can black or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chopped rotisserie or other cooked chicken
1 cup salsa
1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Divide rice equally among four bowls. Top with layers of beans, chicken, salsa and cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.

Serve with guacamole and corn chips.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 635 calories (percent of calories from fat, 21), 51 grams protein, 70 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 15 grams fat (7 grams saturated), 119 milligrams cholesterol, 665 milligrams sodium. Note: Cooked chicken breast was used in this analysis.

TURKEY AND SNOW PEA STIR-FRY

1/2 pound snow peas
1 pound turkey breast cutlets
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 3/4 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

String snow peas. Rinse cutlets and dry with paper towels. Cut against grain into 1/8-inch-thick strips. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce with vinegar, cornstarch, 3 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Set sauce aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or very large skillet over high heat. Add snow peas and cook, stirring and tossing constantly, until the color brightens, about 1 minute. Transfer to a platter. Add remaining oil to wok and when almost smoking, add turkey. Cook, stirring, tossing, and separating strips with a spatula, until they look mostly white, about 1 minute.

Return snow peas to wok with turkey. Reduce heat to medium. Give sauce a stir and add to wok. Bring to boil, stirring. Cook until sauce thickens and turns clear, 1 minute. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings

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