Sunday, February 26, 2012

Crispy Lemon Chicken

Crispy chicken is one of my favorite comfort foods, and believe it or not, it can be made with very little fat and still have the crispiness and juiciness of fried versions. JC loves lemon pepper chicken, so I wanted to work with those flavors. Philadelphia Cream Cheese makes a new flavor of cooking creme with lemon and herbs - thinned out with white wine and with shallots and pepper added, it makes a wonderful sauce for topping the chicken without adding too much in the way of fat and calories. I paired the chicken with asparagus and wild rice pilaf - the sauce is great on asparagus too!

To serve four:
  • 4-6 chicken cutlets or 4-ounce chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 egg or 1/4 cup Egg Beaters 
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs 
  • Zest of 1 lemon 
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste 
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1/4 cup Philadelphia Savory Lemon and Herb Cooking Creme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine 
  • 1 small shallot, minced 
Heat oven to 375. I use waxed paper to coat chicken - makes life much easier!! Put flour on waxed paper. In a shallow bowl, whisk together egg or Egg Beaters and water. On another piece of waxed paper, combine bread crumbs, lemon zest, pepper and garlic powder. Dip each piece of chicken in flour, then egg wash, and then in bread crumbs.

Line a baking sheet with a sheet of aluminum foil to make clean up easier. Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray. Place chicken on foil, making sure pieces don't touch. Spray chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minute or until an instant read thermometer reaches 165 degrees.

While chicken bakes, combine minced shallots and wine in a small saucepan. Add freshly ground pepper to taste. Let simmer over medium-low heat until wine is reduced by half. Stir in cooking creme and mix well. Keep warm.

When chicken is done, spoon a little sauce over each piece and serve immediately.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Four Cheese Au Gratin Potatoes

Is there anything that screams "comfort food" more than potatoes baked with creamy sauce and cheese? These were inspired by an anniversary dinner at the III Forks steakhouse at the Village of Gulfstream Park. Their Six Cheese Potatoes are amazing! I wanted to try to make something similar and couldn't find a single recipe with more than cheddar OR Swiss, with maybe some Parmesan thrown in. The menu doesn't detail what the six cheese are, so I guessed and adapted based on what I know JC will like (no blue cheese, for starters!). I didn't end up with six cheeses, but these were LOADED with cheesy goodness, flavor and I managed to reduce the fat of most recipes by swapping fat-free half-and-half for heavy cream, skim milk for 2% and using reduced fat cheeses. Trying to go for that steakhouse experience, I served these with NY Strip steaks and spinach sauteed with garlic and olive oil, but they'd be great with meatloaf, pork roast, baked chicken - anything that Grandma would have made.

The proportions below are for a 9 x 13 pan. Cut them in half to make an 8 x 8 pan full.
  • 6-7 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed well (I didn't peel mine, but do it if you want to) 
  • 2 cups fat-free half-and-half
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced finely
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced yellow onion (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 container light onion and chive cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar-jack cheese blend 
  •  2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper 
  • Paprika and/or parsley flakes, optional 
Heat oven to 375. Butter a glass pan with the two tablespoons butter. Slice potatoes into roughly 1/4 inch thick slices. (Don't worry about being perfect!)

In a bowl, combine half-and-half, milk, flour, garlic, onion, Parmesan cheese and white pepper.Whisk well to blend.

Layer half of the potatoes in the pan. Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dot with half the cream cheese. Cover with half of the milk mixture. Sprinkle with half the shredded cheeses. Top with the rest of the potatoes, salted and peppered lightly, the cream cheese and the milk mixture. Reserve the rest of the shredded cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake covered for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, reduce heat to 350.  Remove the foil, stir VERY  carefully to make sure top layer of potatoes is covered in sauce, and bake another 20 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese and any parsley or paprika you want for color. Bake 10-20 minutes or until cheese is as done as you like it. If you like your cheese really browned, turn the broiler on for a couple of minutes.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Spicy-Sweet Shrimp and Angel Hair

This is light and SO good. Thai Kitchen has a new Ginger-Chile sauce that was the inspiration for this on a night when I was looking for something different for dinner. This is very easy to make and comes together quickly, so have all the ingredients prepped and ready to cook. I used broccoli and red and orange bell peppers, because that's what I had on hand, but fresh cilantro, green onions and slivered carrots would all be excellent additions. Rice or rice noodles can be swapped for the angel hair if you prefer.

  • 4 servings angel hair pasta - I use Barilla Plus but any will work
  • 1 pound small shrimp (51-60 count, peeled and deveined) 
  • 3 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 large red or orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 bottle Thai Kitchen Thai Chili and Ginger Sauce 
  • Juice of 2 navel oranges 
  • Cooking spray 
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground chiles or cayenne pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Angel hair cooks quickly, so once the pasta is in the water, heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Spray well with non-stick cooking spray. Add vegetables and shrimp. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes.

Add the entire bottle of Thai Kitchen sauce and the orange juice.  Raise heat to high and stir well. Let simmer for five minutes. Add ground chiles or cayenne to taste. (I made it pretty spicy!) Add drained, cooked pasta, mix well and let cook one more minute for flavors to blend. Serve immediately.