Thursday, February 26, 2015

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

This quick and easy broccoli and cheese soup has a smooth texture and mild flavor. Perfect for a quick meal any time of the year!

Ingredients Needed: (for 6 servings)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2.5 cups 2% reduced fat milk
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 8 oz. light processed cheese, cubed (such as Velveeta Light)
How to Make It:
  • Heat a large nonstick saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add broth and broccoli. Bring broccoli mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes.
  • Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in pepper. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.
  • Place one-third of the soup in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Return pureed soup mixture to pan.

Calories (1 1/3 cups) 203; Fat (6.3g); Carbs (21.7g); Protein (15.6g)

Lite Beef and Broccoli

A Chinese take-out favorite that can be made easily with no sauteing, stirring or frying. It doesn't get easier than that ... and it's full of flavor. You'll never want to get take-out again!

Ingredients Needed: (about 6 servings)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2-3 heads broccoli, cut into florets
How to Make It:
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together beef broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil and garlic.
  • Place beef into a large wok or skillet pan. Add sauce mixture and gently toss to combine.
  • Cover and cook on lowest heat setting for an hour.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup water and cornstarch.
  • Stir in cornstarch mixture and broccoli into the wok/skillet. Cover and cook over medium heat for an additional 20-30 minutes (or until broccoli is tender).
  • Serve immediately over cooked brown rice.
Calories: 216 (for one cup; no rice); Fat (6g); Carbs (18g); Protein (23g)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

I never made a CREAMY Chicken Noodle Soup. I don't know why I didn't make this sooner because I couldn't believe how delicious it was!! It's hearty and filling and a perfect Winter's night meal!! (*NOTE: I put most of the cooked carrots, celery and onion in a blender and blended until creamy and then returned the blended mixture to the pot BEFORE adding the roux to the soup. You can do the same, or leave the vegetables intact.*)

 Ingredients Needed: (for about 6 servings)
  • 1 cup dry medium egg noodles
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts*
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 medium)
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped carrots (3 carrots)
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped celery (3 stalks)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 32 oz low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/3 cup low-fat heavy cream
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
How to Make It:
  • Prepare noodles according to directions listed on package (note that you want the noodles to finish about the same time the soup is nearly finished cooking) and drain.
  • In a large pot, heat 1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and saute until tender, about 3 - 4 minutes, then add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Add chicken broth, parsley, bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  •  Add chicken breasts and bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover with lid and allow soup to cook until chicken has cooked through, about 10 - 15 minutes longer (cook time will vary depending on thickness of chicken breasts). Remove chicken and allow to rest for 5 minutes, then shred into small bite size pieces.
  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 1/2 minutes. While whisking slowly add in milk and whisk vigorously to smooth lumps (it will take a lot of whisking to smooth since this is a lighter roux - lesser ratio of butter to flour). Whisk in cream and bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour milk mixture into soup mixture and return chicken to soup along with cooked noodles and stir.
  • Sprinkle a little shredded cheddar cheese on top of soup in your plate (if desired).
  • Serve warm with fresh bread, crackers or croutons if desired.
  • *If using thicker breasts, slice in half through thickness of breasts so they cook faster and more evenly. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mamma Bracco's Minestrone

This recipe really brings back so many wonderful childhood memories of dinners with my parents and older brother. My mom made this minestrone during Winter months only. Filled with beans, vegetables and Ditalini ("thimbals") pasta, it's sure to fill you up ... and warm you up on cold Winter nights! Make sure you have some good, crusty Italian bread when you make this!!

Ingredients Needed:
  • 1 cup dried pinto beans (you can also use red kidney beans if you like)
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 large potato; peeled & halved
  • 2 medium carrots; peeled & halved
  • 2 medium celery stalks; halved
  • 1 lb Whole Smoked Pork Shoulder Butt Roast*
  • 1 cup crushed Italian-style or whole tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp fresh parsley; chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves; crushed
  • 1 medium onion; halved
  • 1/4-lb diced pancetta
  • 1 10-oz pkg frozen mixed vegetables
  • salt & freshly-ground pepper to taste
  • 1 or 2 cups Ditalini pasta**
  • Crusty Italian bread
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
How to Make It:
  • Put 4 cups of COLD water in a large pot. Warm the water slightly; DO NOT overheat or boil!
  • Once the water is warm, add the beans and bring to a BOIL.
  • Immediately add 4 more cups of COLD water and 3 cups of beef broth.
  • Add ALL the vegetables, pork butt, salt & pepper.
  • In a skillet, cook the diced pancetta until browned. Add the cooked pancetta (with the drippings) to the large pot.
  • Cover and cook on medium heat for an hour.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables and put in a blender. Blend and return to pot. Repeat the process until most to all of the vegetables have been blended.
  • Bring to a boil and add 1 or 2 cups of the Ditalini pasta (if you want a THICKER soup, add 2 cups of Ditalini; if you want a THINNER soup, add only 1 cup of Ditalini).
  • Stir frequently (so the Ditalini don't stick to the bottom of the pot).
  • Continue cooking over medium heat for 10-12 minutes (or until pasta is done).
  • Remove cooked pork butt and pull apart with a fork (shred), or cut into bite-sized chunks. Return to pot.
  • Add grated parmesan cheese, if desired.
  • Serve with warm, crusty Italian bread (broken into pieces and added to the soup in your plate), if desired.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Grilled Apple Pie

Yes, you are seeing the recipe title correctly!! GRILLED Apple Pie.  I never imagined you could make an apple pie on the grill, but I was searching for recipes one day and came across this amazing way of making an apple pie. Whether it's on a grill with charcoal or a gas grill, the apples are tender and the crust is nice and flaky.  I don't have a charcoal grill, and have been making my grilled apple pies on a gas grill. I can only imagine how delicious the pie would be with that smoky, charcoal-grilled flavor. If you make it over charcoal, please comment and let me know how it was!!! Now, get all of your ingredients and GET GRILLING!!!

Ingredients Needed:
  • 6-8 medium apples (I used McIntosh and Cortland; of course, you can use Granny Smith if you prefer a more tart pie); peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of one fresh lemon
  • freshly-ground nutmeg
  • cinnamon
  • unsalted butter
  • two pie crusts (I used store bought)
  • 1 pyrex pie dish
  • 1 hot grill
How to GRILL it:

Before doing anything, get your grill nice and HOT.  The temperature gauge should read 425 degrees F.  DO NOT TURN ON ALL OF YOUR BURNERS. Keep one section off. You will be putting your pie in INDIRECT heat.  NEVER put the pie directly over the burners that are on!!!!! If using a charcoal grill, put the charcoal on one side of the grill and keep the opposite section of the grill for putting your pie on.  Again ... NEVER PUT THE PIE OVER THE HEAT SOURCE OR FLAME!!!!

1)   Peel, core and slice the apples into ½ inch slices
2)   Place the apple slices into a bowl and keep aside
3)   In another bowl, mix the sugar, flour, salt and mix well
4)   Spread the sugar over the apple slices and coat them well
5)   Add the lemon juice to the apple slices
6)   Roll out the dough and place onto the base of a pyrex pie dish
7)   Spread the apple mixture onto the base
8)   Sprinkle some nutmeg and cinnamon over the apple slices (as much/little as you like)

9)   Add thin slivers of butter all over the apples that you just covered with nutmeg
      & cinnamon
10) Roll out the other half and cover the top of the pie dish
11) Gently flute the edges and make a slit on the top

12) Lightly sprinkle on some sugar for extra crunch and to help brown
13) Grill the pie on INDIRECT HEAT in the grill for about 60 minutes

14) Check and rotate the pie dish every 20 minutes or so (for even browning)
15) Carefully remove the pie from the grill (using oven mitts)

16) Serve WARM

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Smoky-Sweet Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Paprika provides a subtle smokiness while a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dash of sugar lend a sweet undertone to this very flavorful yet lean cut of meat.

Ingredients Needed: (8 servings)
  •  2 pork tenderloins (about 1 lb each)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp McCormick Gourmet Collection Garlic Powder, California
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp McCormick Gourmet Collection Cinnamon, Saigon
How to Make It:
  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Rub pork tenderloins with oil.
  • Mix remaining ingredients in small bowl. Rub spice mixture all over pork. Place pork in shallow baking pan sprayed with no stick cooking spray.
  • Roast 20 to 25 minutes or until desired doneness. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
Recipe from

Quesadilla Casserole

Two words -- OH MY.  Traditional quesadillas get a flavorful twist with cumin, garlic and oregano. Layer it in a casserole for convenient preparation.

Ingredients Needed: (8 servings)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cans (8 oz each) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans; drained & rinsed
  • 1 can (8 3/4 oz) whole kernel corn; undrained
  • 1 can (4 1/2 oz) chopped green chilies; undrained
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 flour tortillas (8 inch)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
How to Make It:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Brown beef and onion in large skillet on medium-high heat; drain. Add tomato sauce, beans, corn and green chiles; mix well. Stir in all of the seasonings. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes.
  • Spread 1/2 cup of the beef mixture on bottom of 13x9x2-inch baking dish sprayed with no stick cooking spray. Top with 3 of the tortillas, overlapping as needed. Layer with 1/2 of the remaining beef mixture and 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas, beef mixture and cheese.
  • Bake 15 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe from