Coronation chicken salad (for Yanks)

My husband is English. Most of the time, I forget this rather simple fact. I don’t hear his accent anymore – it’s only when I talk to him on the phone that I’m reminded he’s not from ’round here.

And when it comes to food, he likes pretty much everything (except popcorn and red licorice). But there’s one thing he absolutely loves – curry.

So when he lamented that he missed this concoction called Coronation Chicken Salad, which features curry and is apparently is a mainstay of British sandwich cuisine (yeah, I just made up that term!), I sprang into action. I did what any Yankee wife would do – I emailed his mum and asked for her recipe.

Depending on what we have in our kitchen, I normally make a version that consists of these ingredients: cooked chopped chicken, onion, golden raisins, mayo, mango chutney, curry powder, salt and pepper.

Now that we’re trying to eat healthier (yay for us), I decided yesterday to modify the recipe to make it low-fat and incorporate more veg.

I used a Weight Watchers recipe as a starting point, and then modified it a bit. The results? Absolutely amazing. We were blown away! I let the chicken salad chill in the fridge for a few hours, and I think that made a BIG difference in allowing the flavors to really meld (and shine)!

Coronation Chicken Salad Sandwich

Without further ado, here are the details:

Low-fat Coronation Chicken Salad (Yankee version ;))

Servings: 4-6, depending on how hungry you are! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (skinless, boneless)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 medium uncooked carrot, coarsely grated
  • 1/2 rib uncooked celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced (I found this to be a lot of onion, so you may want to decrease depending on your tastes!)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small carton fat-free Greek yogurt (I used Fage brand)
  • 1 heaping spoonful of mango chutney (chopped, if necessary)
  • 1 tsp curry powder (I used hot curry ’cause we like spice!)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Combine chicken, raisins, carrot, celery, cilantro and lemon juice in bowl.

Combine onion, yogurt, curry powder, chutney, salt and pepper in small bowl. Make sure to mix well – don’t want any super-concentrated curry bits! Pour over chicken mixture; toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Serve on a fresh roll, sandwich bread or wrap….or on top of lettuce!

Note: I think apple would be a nice addition. Next time, I think I’ll try adding some. Halved grapes are used in the WW recipe, so I’m sure they’d be fantastic, too. I had golden raisins on-hand ’cause the hubby prefers those in his coronation chicken. ūüôā

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Hearty, low-cal vegetable barley soup

Oh, barley. So good, yet so underutilized in our household.

A friend first pointed out the merits of barley to me a few weeks ago, wisely selling me with the following words, “it’s like healthy risotto.” And on that day, I made a purchase that will be forever marked as a milestone in my cooking history. A bag of Bob’s Red Mill pearl barley. Oh, the wonder!

Since that day, I’ve been looking for ways to incorporate this protein-rich, high-fiber goodness into my life.

This vegetable barley soup, found on allrecipes (sigh, where else?), was one of them.

Veg barley soup

If you don’t like curry, you won’t like this soup as-is. That said, I’m sure you are creative enough to omit the curry and replace it with something you do like, right?

So this soup is 3 Weight Watchers points/serving. And is full of so much vegetable goodness that your body will thank you for it. (Really, it will.)

It’s so hearty, it’s almost stew-like. The barley is awesome! And look at all the veg – this is when I just starting simmering it, before the barley cooked.

Vegetable barley soup simmering

I did not make a single revision to the allrecipes version, so I won’t bother copying and pasting it. Just check out Beaker’s Vegetable Barley Soup on allrecipes. You won’t be sorry.

Easy chicken noodle soup

Everyone loves chicken noodle soup.

Comforting, delicious and low-calorie, it is a must-have throughout the fall and winter months. And I’ve been living off of it for weeks because it is the best low-point (sigh, yes, I’m on Weight Watchers) lunch a girl could want.

But, as everyone knows, chicken noodle can be a salt-bomb. Since I value my heart and arteries, I wanted to cut the sodium found in my typical deli-bought lunch. Also, I’m lazy. So here’s a recipe I found on allrecipes and modified a little.

Something I learned: Apparently, the secret to awesome, non-soggy noodles is cooking them separately, as-needed. So if you are making this for your family (and plan on eating six servings in one go) you’ll want to make all 3 cups of noodles while the rest of the soup is simmering. Otherwise, just make the noodles when you need them. (Update: I added all the noodles when I originally made the soup, and three days later, they are still good in the leftovers. They’re not as firm as on day one, but…still taste good to me. Soo…I have no idea WHAT to believe. :))

For you Weight Watchers point-counters out there, you’ll be glad to know that this soup made with 3 cups of noodles (in my modified version below) is 4 points/serving. If you only do 1.5 cups of noodles (as original recipe says), it’s 3 points. Double the noodles for 1 point? Yes, please (no-brainer, right?).

Chicken Noodle Soup

 

Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup (4 POINTS/SERVING)
(modified from this allrecipes recipe) 

Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1¬†cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1¬†cup chopped celery
  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth¬†(try to get 2 cans low-sodium – that will balance out the saltiness)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth
  • 1/2 pound chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 3¬†cups egg noodles
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 pinches of dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 dashes of poultry seasoning (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Cook onion, garlic, carrots and celery in butter until just tender, 5 minutes.
  2. While the veggies are cooking, chop up chicken into bite-size chunks.
  3. Pour in chicken and vegetable broths and stir in chicken, basil, oregano, thyme, poultry seasoning (optional), salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook egg noodles using directions on the package (I cooked mine al-dente so they wouldn’t get mushy).
  5. Once drained, add noodles to chicken and veggie mix and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  6. Ready to eat! (Please let your soup cool for a little bit – don’t burn your tongue like I did. Ha!)

Do you have a favorite go-to chicken noodle soup recipe? Share it with me!

heaven is a healthy spinach artichoke dip….

Spinach artichoke dip is one of my all-time favorite appetizers. It’s piping hot, creamy and cheesy – and often served with tortilla chips or some sort of bread product (carbs, yay!), so what’s not to like? In a nutshell, it is divine.

It is also so very unhealthy. As I was perusing recipes for this delicious dish, I was surprised to see that mayo is in most of them. Really? I hate mayo. Seriously hate it. So much I had to use italics.

And while I wanted to have spinach dip while enjoying the premiere episode of good, quality television (ahem, Bachelor Pad – don’t judge), I didn’t really need to get my arteries all clogged up while doing so.

So I stumbled across the infamous Cooking Light variation. It looked good – really good….but then I found an even better one. The perfect spinach artichoke dip recipe that didn’t leave me feeling fat and bloated just reading the ingredient list. This recipe from Serious Eats, which uses less cheese than the CL version,¬†is as healthy as you can get for a cheesy dip. Plus, it’s full of fresh spinach, which was a big plus for me, since I had some in fridge and I needed to make it in a hurry.

People tell me that football season is starting soon (I don’t do sports, sorry), so this may be a terrific lower-fat option for game day! Plus, no mayo. Ick.

It tastes awesome. Heavenly. Fantastic. And it was quick enough to throw together once you tear up your spinach and take out any big stems. The whole crushing garlic thing with a knife was new to me, so that was super exciting. I actually watched this video to get an idea of what I should be doing.

Anyhow, I would’ve never known this was a healthier version, to be honest. My guests devoured it while we mocked our reality TV contestants – and then we all came back for seconds. I had thirds – again, don’t judge!

It makes a lot. Enough for a small get-together. The only thing is that the ingredients aren’t exactly cheap. I never knew how much canned artichoke hearts cost…yowza! I already had the spinach, garlic, spices, shredded cheeses and sour cream on-hand. The rest was still pretty pricey. Get it on sale and you’re golden!


Mixing the ingredients together.

Ready to go into the oven!


Dig in! Sooo good.

So, here’s the recipe (from Serious Eats):

INGREDIENTS

10-ounce bag fresh spinach (I used much less ’cause that’s all I had – was still good!)
6 ounces (3/4 block) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
6 ounces (3/4 block) fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1 1/2 cups part-skim mozzarella, shredded
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed (not minced) (first time I ever crushed garlic by hand!)
6 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese, divided

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350¬įF.

Tear spinach into bite-size pieces, removing any thick stems. Rinse in a colander, leaving a little water on the leaves. In a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven, sauté the spinach over medium heat until wilted. Drain in the colander, pushing a little of the extra water out.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheeses with a potato masher. Add sour cream and mash more. Add spinach, mozzarella, artichokes, pepper, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the parmesan. Stir everything until thoroughly combined.
Pour mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan on top. Bake 30 minutes, or until parmesan is melted dip is all bubbly. (Mine took probably another 10-15 minutes longer!) Remove from oven and give it a minute or two to cool down.
Serve…and enjoy. I can’t wait to make this again!


a chicken pot pie that won’t kill you…

Fall is coming…..

If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you will get my little joke (switch winter with fall and you’ll be all Stark-like!). If not, the statement is still rings true. Fall is¬†indeed coming!

And cooler weather means comfort food like chicken pot pie. One of my favorites…mmmm. ¬†As I’ve mentioned, my favorite recipe is a Weight Watchers recipe, which is packed for of chicken and veggies and normally calls for four reduced-fat crescent rolls as the “pie crust.” And I’m not a big fan of those things. Sooo, I searched around for the perfect pie crust recipe (read: so easy that I couldn’t mess it up). I’ve never made pie crust from scratch, nor do I have a food processor, so I also wanted one that was super simple that I could make, literally, by hand. I found a recipe at Baking Bites.

It turned out wonderful. I will never buy those refrigerated pie crusts again!

My house still smelled like burning, though, because the pot pie juices dripped while cooking and burned on the oven floor. Yay, me! Lesson: put a cookie sheet or something under the pie dish.

OK, so here’s the scoop. The pot pie filling is healthy; we’re cool with that. The pie crust has a lot of butter in it. And you are only using one on top, so it all balances out to an OK meal, right?


Here’s my pot pie filling simmering away. Look at all the veggies and chicken goodness!


And here’s my pot pie complete the homemade pie crust…all ready for the oven! Please note I don’t know how to flute a pie crust. In fact, just saying “flute” makes me think of Ron Burgundy playing the jazz flute on a mountaintop (“that’s baby-making music right there, that’s what it is”).


And here it is, all cooked.


And a slice of goodness for you, my friends!

Now for the recipe. I made the pie crust first, then let it chill while I prepared the pot pie filling:

Homemade Pie Crust (recipe from Baking Bites)
INGREDIENTS

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into pieces
4-6 tbsp cold water

DIRECTIONS
Stir together flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add in butter and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingertips, forming pieces no larger than a pea. Stir in 4 tbsp cold water with a fork, letting the dough come together. Add additional water until dough forms a rough ball (I didn’t need more than the recipe states, but it can vary). Wrap dough in plastic wrap, press down into a disc and chill until ready to use. When ready to use, roll out a little larger than the pie plate. Place over filling and seal edges (“flute” edges if you have those mad skills). Make sure to cut some slits on the top to allow steam to escape while cooking.

Healthy Chicken Pot Pie Filling (recipe from Weight Watchers)

INGREDIENTS
cooking spray
1 tsp butter
1 small onion(s), chopped
2 cup(s) mushroom(s), sliced   (I am sure I added more than this)
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1/2 tsp table salt, or more to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cup(s) frozen mixed vegetables   (I used the whole bag)
1 cup(s) canned chicken broth
3 cup(s) cooked chicken breast without skin
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup(s) fat-free evaporated milk, divided

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 375¬ļF. Coat a 10-inch round shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Coat a large pot with cooking spray. Add butter and melt over medium heat. Add onion and mushrooms and cook, until tender, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Stir in paprika, thyme, salt and pepper. Add vegetables, broth and chicken. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
  • In a small cup, combine flour and 1/4 cup of evaporated milk; stir into chicken mixture. Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup of evaporated milk and cook until mixture is slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
  • Spoon chicken mixture into prepared baking dish. Place pie crust on top. Bake until pie crust is golden brown – this took about 40 minutes for me. (If the pie crust edges get too brown, you can place some foil strips on top of them.)
With comfort food like this, I have to say I’m ready for fall. What about you?

 

so-so day = yummy soft pretzels

One of my friends asked me, “Do you actually cook anything? Or do you just bake?”

I completely understand that question. I do cook. Not always well, mind you.

But it’s not the same as baking, where I get all floury (I told you I’m messy) and sometimes I even get to play with dough. Baking is far more cathartic for me. When I have a so-so day, I don’t want to cook chicken marsala…I want to bake zucchini bread.

I think it comes down to the smells. Baking smells homey and comforting. And on an off day, I need that.

So my house smells fantastic tonight because I made soft pretzels. Yuuuum. I will admit, though, it did smell like burning for a bit. This blog is aptly named sometimes. My oven was on way too high for stuff NOT to burn, to be honest.

Anyhow, here’s proof that my soft pretzels are not cinders.

Indeed, they were soft, buttery, salty goodness.

I picked the easiest recipe I could find¬†(thanks, The Curvy Carrot)¬†because I’m lazy and don’t like too many steps, but I’ve been eyeing a recipe for pretzel rolls that I found on Pinterest…and I don’t think I’ll be able to resist those for long. Could you imagine a ham and cheese sandwich on a warm, homemade pretzel roll with honey mustard? Mmmm.

Anyhow, these pretzels made my so-so day a little bit better. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.

eggs! bacon! veggies! it’s all there….

After my depressing bread adventure, let’s talk about something I did that was really good. Yes, let’s.

A few weekends ago, I made a healthier version of this Broccoli and Italian Sausage Egg Muffins recipe from Snacking in the Kitchen. I used Canadian bacon instead of sausage and I added some green pepper and red onion. It was awesome! And the leftovers were brilliant for taking to work for breakfast. Just a few seconds in the microwave…and perfection.

So yesterday, as I was prepping my veggies for a pasta salad, I decided to save some broccoli, green pepper and green onion for a slightly less-healthy version of my egg muffin quiches (what in the world should I call these, anyhow?).

Less-healthy because I also had some leftover bacon and some hash browns to use. I’m trying so very hard to reduce the amount of food that goes to waste in our household. Or…that’s the excuse I’ll use to justify all the bacon I’ve eaten this weekend. Whatever.

These little egg muffins thingys (technical term, yes?) are good with any type of breakfast meat. Or I’m sure they are awesome with some other veggies instead (which I think I’ll try next time). The best thing is the base recipe for the eggs can go with pretty much anything you have on hand, I bet. A big, fat, bacony thanks goes to Snacking in the Kitchen!

Egg, Bacon and Veggie Muffin Thingys (recipe modified from Snacking in Kitchen)

INGREDIENTS

a few strips of cooked bacon, crumbled (I had some leftover from day before)
1/2 cup of cooked hash browns (also had some leftover from day before – this is totally optional, though – I probably won’t use them again)
1/2 cup broccoli florets (steamed for a quick minute before to take the edge off)
1/4 cup of diced green pepper
green onion, to taste (red onion also works beautifully)
8 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp baking powder
salt & pepper to taste
a few dashes of oregano
shredded cheese (optional – I could totally do without it, to be honest)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Spray the muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place a little bit of the cooked hash browns on bottom of each muffin cup. Put in the oven for a few minutes. (I found the hash browns were an OK addition, but totally not necessary – next time I probably will leave them out.)
3. Whisk together eggs, milk, oil and baking powder.  Season with oregano, salt and pepper.
4. Take muffin tin out of oven. Place bacon and veggies in each cup.
5. Ladle the egg mixture in each cup.
6. Sprinkle with cheese (again, totally optional)
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes.  (Mine took about 18-19 minutes)

And here are some pretty photos that I feel obligated to include because the colors are so vibrant. ūüôā


As you can see, my bacon pieces were sorta’ big. I’m lazy like that.


Muffin cups filled with egg mixture and ready for the oven. They puff up so nicely! 

Anyhow, the verdict on this one = super easy, super good. Reheats wonderfully. And certainly does not smell like burning. What kind of variations will you try? Let me know!