Sunday, February 27, 2011

Back to Bikini Tetrazzini

In a recent issue of Southern Living magazine, I came across a section of chicken tetrazzini recipes. There were several ideas giving a twist to the classic dish. They all looked delicious but the chicken marsala take stood out to me. Everyone in my family loves Chicken Marsala, a common Italian entree, so I figured this was sure to be a hit. I worked my "calorie-slashing" magic on the ingredient list in order to lighten up the dish. The result was wonderful. The sauce was creamy with a hint of red wine flavor. It was the perfect compliment to the tender pieces of grilled chicken, sauteed mushrooms, and green peas. The original recipe calls for the addition of prosciutto, but I left it out since I don't do the whole red meat thing.  I can't imagine that the pasta could have been any more flavorful. This is a keeper.

Chicken Marsala Tetrazzini 
adapted from Southern Living
serves 8

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 oz uncooked vermicelli pasta (Spaghetti or Angel Hair will work too)
2 tbsp light butter
10 oz. light Alfredo sauce
1 can 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup Marsala
12 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

seasoning mixture for chicken
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/2 tsp dried Parsley
1/4 tsp dried Marjoram
1/4 tsp garlic powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x7 baking dish with cooking spray. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the seasoning mixture. Lightly mist the chicken breasts with olive oil (or regular) cooking spray and sprinkle each side with the mixture. Grill until thoroughly done. Cut grilled chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet, add mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together alfredo sauce, cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, and Marsala. 
  5. Add chicken, mushrooms, peas, and 1/2 cup parmesan.
  6. Spoon mixture into baking dish and top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake for 35 minutes.

Nutrition: 286 calories, 31g carbohydrate, 22g protein, 9g fat, 5g fiber
weight watchers points: 6
weight watchers plus points: 8

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sinless Cinnamon Buns

I found a recipe a few years ago for homemade cinnamon rolls. They looked a bit complicated but I was up for the challenge. That was before I had a Kitchen-aid stand mixer and the cinnamon rolls turned into quite an ordeal. Hours upon hours later, when they came out of the oven, the smell was to die for. I did it. I actually made huge, gooey homemade cinnamon rolls. They were beautiful and the reactions from my taste-testers were even more satisfying. My parents claimed them to be the best cinnamon rolls they had ever eaten. My roommate requested them for her birthday "cake". The boyfriend got a care package in the mail before finals, full of cinnamon love. They were definitely a hit. But as far as their nutritional content, quite the miss. They were loaded with sugar, butter, and zillions of calories. Sure, its ok to ignore that information for a special occasion but nobody should eat these pastries on a regular basis.

Cinnamon is one of my favorite spices and the idea os cinnamon rolls is definitely appealing. I decided that I could create a treat that exhibits the same flavors, without all of the excess fat. I'm not sure what made me give this idea a try but I have been making these for years now and they always kick a cinnamon roll craving. Everything is cooked to begin with so this is great for a hurried breakfast treat or an after-dinner dessert. It may sound a bit odd, but I encourage you to try it at least once. While it is obviously not going to be a food court style pastry, each one only has 56 calories compared to the typical 800+.

Cinnamon Buns
serves 2

1 light wheat hamburger bun
2 tbsp fat-free cream cheese
2 tsp fat-free butter (plus a little extra for spreading)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp Splenda
Cinnamon and Splenda for sprinkling
  1. Lay hamburger bun halves, inside facing upwards. Lightly spread butter over each half and sprinkle with cinnamon and Splenda.
  2. Lightly toast in toaster oven. (This isn't necessary but it gives the bun added texture and structure).
  3. In a small microwavable bowl or ramekin, combine cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Microwave for 15 seconds. Stir until smooth. Add Splenda and stir until combined.
  4. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture on each bun. Enjoy!
Nutrition: 56 calories, 10g carbohydrate, 4g protein, 1g fat, 2g fiber
weight watchers points: 1
weight watchers plus points: 2

Friday, February 11, 2011

Creamy Crock-Pot Chicken

Lately I have been in the middle of a million projects, so the crock pot has been quite handy. I can still create healthy dishes at home, without spending all of my free time cooking. I was browsing through my mom's recipe book that I made from her collection of recipe clippings, when I came across this recipe. I immediately remembered my mom making this dish when I was younger. I knew I liked it then so I figured I would like it now as well. Back then I had no idea what was in it, nor did I care; but, this time the recipe needed a few modifications. I was a bit worried that some of the flavor would be sacrificed by using fat-free cream cheese, light butter, and reduced-fat soup. There definitely no need for concern. The meal turned out amazing. The chicken was tender and the sauce was rich and creamy. You can serve this over wide egg noodles or rice. I added steamed broccoli on serve. Another great week night meal.

Chicken and Mushrooms
serves 6

6 (4 oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp light butter
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp dry Italian dressing mix
1 can 98% fat-free Cream of Mushroom soup
6 oz. fat-free cream cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 cup dry Sherry
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup frozen green peas
  1. Wash chicken and pat dry. Brush with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Place chicken in slow cooker. Sprinkle Italian dressing mix on top. Cover and cook for 5-6 hours.
  3. One hour before serving, mix soup, cream cheese, Sherry, and onion in a saucepan. Cook and stir until smooth. Spoon over chicken.
  4. Add mushrooms and peas. Cover and cook for 30 minutes longer.
  5. Serve over rice or egg noodles if desired.
Nutrition: (without noodles) 200 calories, 10g carbohydrate, 29g protein, 5g fat
5 weight watchers points
5 weight watchers plus points 

Nutrition: (with 1/2 cup cooked egg noodles) 300 calories, 29g carbohydrate, 33g protein, 6g fat, 3g fiber
6 weight watchers points
8 weight watchers plus points

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hearty Meaty Baked Ziti

Instead of making the typical Super Bowl party foods, I decided on a hearty one-dish meal. My recipe for Baked Ziti is healthy and filling. Plus, reheated leftovers are delicious. In order to provide nutritious stats for this pasta dish, I made some of my typical swaps. I used ground turkey breast, fat-free cottage cheese, light pasta sauce, and fat-free mozzarella in place of these high calorie varieties. Baked ziti is incredibly easy to make; you don't even have to boil the noodles before baking. This would be perfect for a quick week night meal. I will definitely be making this again soon.

Also, for all of you weight watchers, I will be adding the weight watchers plus points to each nutrition analysis beginning with this recipe. Over time I will be going back to previous posts to add this calculation as well. Hope this helps!
Baked Ziti
serves 8

1 26 oz. jar pasta sauce (I used light Ragu)
1 1/2 cups water
15 oz. fat-free cottage cheese
2 cups shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lb ground turkey breast, cooked and crumbled
8 oz. uncooked penne (I used Ronzoni Smart taste)
2 garlic cloves, minced
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine pasta sauce, water, cottage cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, turkey, and penne.
  3. Pour into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 55 minutes.
  4. Remove dish from oven. Sprinkle with additional cup of mozzarella and bake uncovered for 5 minutes.

Nutrition: 276 calories, 32g carbohydrate, 34g protein, 2g fat, 5g fiber
weight waters points: 5
weight watchers + points: 7
Thursday, February 3, 2011

Man Food Make-Over

Ok I am going to be totally honest. This is the first recipe that I have posted without trying myself. I love the challenge of making a traditionally unhealthy dish more nutritious, mainly because it means that no foods are completely off limits. With modification, almost any meal can be guilt-free. For example, the sound of "fettucine alfredo" is very appealing to me. The fat and calories, not so much, which is fine because I know that I can make a tasty, healthy version. Now when I hear "red beans and rice", I have no desire to make-over this dish. It's just not my kind of food, healthy or not. While we were in New Orleans for New Year's Eve, the boyfriend decided that he is quite fond of the cajun cuisine. We bought a red beans and rice box dinner mix in a little shop so that I could make it for him back at home. I made it the first time using cajun sausage, and he loved. Actually everyone who tried it seemed to enjoy the spicy flavors. My mom, like myself, didn't think this type of food was her thing. Well she was braver than me and tried it. She was surprised that she really liked the dish. Using the pork sausage, it wasn't the healthiest meal ever.

The last time I was visiting the boyfriend in Auburn, we decided instead of going out to eat, we would spend the money on groceries for me to cook. That way he would have plenty of leftovers throughout the week. He decided on lettuce wraps, mexican lasagna, and red beans and rice. I was a bit surprised when he suggested that we use smoked turkey sausage in place of the pork, which saved 110 calories per serving (so proud of him!). We bought the Zatarain's box mix which was made of basically the same ingredients as the mix we purchased in New Orleans. This was very easy to make as I just threw it all in the crock pot. The beans did have to soak overnight and cook for about an hour but that's really not any work. Since the smoked turkey sausage did not have any cajun flavor, I sauteed it with ground red pepper and red pepper flakes. I swapped brown rice for white rice to add additional fiber to the beans. The final verdict: The boyfriend loved it and decided it was every bit as good as the pork sausage version. With all of the positive reviews, I might just have to try out the next batch.

Red Beans and Rice
serves 13
1 box Zatarain's red beans and rice seasoning mix
16 oz. link Butterball smoked turkey sausage, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 pound dry red kidney beans
6.5 cups cooked whole grain brown rice
  1. Spray large pan with cooking spray and saute sausage pieces until done.
  2. Follow cooking directions on package of red beans. (I like to soak them overnight before cooking)
  3. Combine seasoning mix with cold water and then empty the mixture, sausage, and beans into the crock pot and cook over low for 4-6 hours.
  4. Serve over cooked rice.
Nutrition: (per serving with 1/2 cup cooked rice) 307 calories, 50g carbohydrate, 16g protein, 4g fat, 7g fiber, 5 weight watchers points

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Nutrition student with a passion for giving yummy recipes a healthy make-over. Future RD on a constant search for the best food finds. And new blogger trying to relay my tasty ideas to everyone else.

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