November 8, 201010-Second Recipes: A Chili Soup for Chilly Nights
(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking
at Creators Syndicate
The three-course weeknight menus (appetizers, entrees, and healthy desserts) include everything from Middle-Eastern-inspired favorites to a cranberry-juice-sweetened pureed chili soup perfect for chilly nights! Some of the entrees, like easy ?burgers? prepared from store-bought falafel mix, are vegetarian. Most of the main dishes that aren?t, like a turkey and mashed sweet potato-carrot casserole, also feature produce, seamlessly blended with the meat, poultry, or seafood, to amp up the nutrition quotient. Even decadent desserts are created with your family?s health in mind, although they probably will never realize that when they are feasting on custom-made treats, like sugar-free chocolate sandwich cookies topped with store-bought pumpkin butter, whipped cream and walnuts.
Cooking can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast - as these menus of split-second family-friendly sensations prove. They take just
10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare
. The meals are delicious proof that everyone has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy family time around the kitchen table that goes along with it! Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since
there are no right or wrong amounts.
These are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations, so whatever you - or your kidlet helpers - choose to use can't help but draw "wows" at the family dinner table.
Over a large dollop of store-bought mango chutney on each appetizer plate, grate fresh ginger and drizzle finely chopped pistachios followed by a grind of black pepper. Serve with whole-grain crackers.
An Apple a Day Ham ?n? Cider Beans
Cook a ham according to package instructions. Cut into bite-sized chunks. In a saucepan, pour canned baked beans and add ham, chunks of red and green apple, apple cider, molasses and dry mustard. Heat until hot and apples are of texture you?d like.
Lightening Fast Fruit Crumble
Warm store-bought apple pie filling, covered in a microwave-safe container, in the microwave oven. Top with crumbled vanilla wafers and a drizzling of sugar-free chocolate syrup.
Chili Soup for Chilly Nights
In a blender container, add equal parts unsweetened cranberry juice and chicken broth to canned no-meat-added chili, as well as a dash cayenne pepper and chopped jicama or onion. Puree until still slightly chunky. Heat in a saucepan. Serve with store-bought or homemade cornbread.
Sweet and Savory Shortcut Casserole
Bake sweet potatoes for 8 minutes covered in microwave oven, or until soft. Mash, including skin, in a bowl, adding margarine, dash of salt, brown sugar and freshly ground black pepper. Chop cooked turkey breast, pecans and dried apricots or dates and stir into sweet potato mixture. Place in microwave-safe dish, top evenly with grated carrots and drizzle with honey and freshly grated ginger. Microwave until hot.
Pumpkin Butter Beauties
Spread store-bought pumpkin butter atop sugar-free chocolate sandwich cookies. Top each with a dollop of sugar-free whipped topping and chopped pecans.
Foreign Intrigue Sassy Salad
In a bowl, whisk store-bought ranch dressing with sesame seeds and finely diced black olives. Pour over salad of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes and green bell pepper.
Fantastic Falafel Burgers
Following package instructions regarding adding liquid, form burger patties from store-bought falafel mix and grill or broil on each side until browned, slightly crispy and fully cooked through. Serve open-faced on top of warmed whole-wheat pitas topped with romaine lettuce, red onion slices, dill pickles and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
"Open Sesame" Sweet Sensation
Chop halvah (a Middle Eastern sesame candy bar sold in most supermarkets and delis) and sprinkle over sugar-free vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, along with golden raisins. Drizzle with flavored or plain honey.
Bread Stick Bonanza
Roll refrigerated bread stick dough in finely diced red bell pepper, onions and sesame seeds, pushing hard so accompaniments stick to dough. Bake according to package directions, covered, so accompaniments don?t burn. Serve with tomato salsa for dipping.
Chicken Patties Worth Applause
Grind chicken breast meat with a small amount of water in a strong blender or food processor along with a dash of chili powder, freshly chopped onions, garlic and lemon-pepper salt substitute. Form into patties. Grill or broil on both sides until cooked through and an internal temperature of 165 F, usually about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side and 3 to 4 minutes on the second. Top with fat-free pepper jack cheese or soy "veggie" pepper jack cheese until melted. Serve over heated spicy canned corn (like Mexican blends found in supermarket canned food sections).
One Honey of a Honeydew Dessert
Serve slices of honeydew melon crowned with sugar-free whipped topping you?ve blended gently with cinnamon and honey.
Powerful Pomegranate-Pear Fruit Cocktail
Combine fresh unpeeled pear chunks with pomegranate seeds and crumbles of blue cheese. Drizzle with two parts balsamic vinaigrette to one-quarter part pomegranate juice and a dash of freshly ground black pepper.
Fun "Fishwich" 'n' Chips
Combine melted butter, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce and brush over both sides of one-half-inch-thick cod fillets. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice. Grill or broil about 5 minutes, turn over and cook briefly, until fish flakes with a fork, is opaque and slightly firm. Toast olive sourdough bread and spread with store-bought aioli (garlic mayonnaise) and then top with fish and shredded cabbage. Serve with store-bought or homemade sweet potato chips.
Lovable Lemon Sorbet Surprise
During meal, soak golden raisins in pomegranate juice until slightly plump. Place scoops of lemon sorbet over slices of angel food cake and top with raisins and a slight amount of the pomegranate soaking juice.
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Do you ever wish you could have your favorite restaurant's chef tucked away in your own kitchen to make your life easier? Many chains and one-of-a-kind spots provide the next best thing: their signature products. Next time, when at the cash register or browsing the menu or the restaurant's website, take a look. From dressings and sauces, spice rubs, tea blends, to cookie mixes, the National Restaurant Association reports that signature products sold only through the restaurant and not in supermarkets is a growing category. Nothing more than a dash here and there will give your everyday dishes distinction.
is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling
The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes
(Avery/Penguin Putnam) and
Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet
(Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission Granted for use on Dr.Laura.com.
Posted by Staff at 4:33 PM