Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Spinach-Artichoke Dip with Bacon

1/3 cup fat-free mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (8-ounce) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) package fat-free cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
5 center-cut bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place mayonnaise, garlic, 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, and fat-free cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended and creamy. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, bacon, artichoke hearts, and spinach. Spread mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Southwestern Breakfast Casserole

1 (8 1/2-ounce) package corn muffin mix
3 cups (1/2-inch) cubed white bread
8 ounces hot country sausage
2 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
1 (8-ounce) carton egg substitute
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack or mild cheddar cheese, divided

Prepare corn muffin mix according to package directions; cool. Crumble muffins into a large bowl; stir in bread. Set aside.

Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain.

Combine milk, cumin, pepper, tomatoes, and egg substitute; stir with a whisk until well-blended. Add sausage mixture; stir well. Stir into bread mixture. Spoon half of bread mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with 1/2 cup cheese. Spoon remaining bread mixture over cheese. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Bake casserole at 350° for 20 minutes or until set. Top with 1/2 cup cheese, and bake an additional 20 minutes or until set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Garlic-spiked Broccoli with Cranberries

Interesting combination, and very tasty.

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
Salt and ground black pepper

Steam broccoli in microwave for 90 seconds.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add broccoli and cranberries and saute 3 minutes, until broccoli is crisp-tender. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.

--Adapted from Robin Miller

Raspberry Coulis

2 cups raspberries (about 12 ounces), rinsed
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Bring the sugar, water, and brandy to a boil. Add the raspberries and lemon juice to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the berries are very soft, about 8 minutes.

Sprinkle the cornstarch over 2 teaspoons cold water and stir to dissolve. Pour into the simmering raspberry mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl; discard the seeds. Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

--Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

Tuscan White Beans

2 bacon slices
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped green onion

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon bacon drippings in pan; crumble bacon. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add rosemary, beans, wine, water, rind, and pepper; simmer 30 minutes or until thick. Stir in crumbled bacon, green onions, and parsley.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Chicken with Provencal Sauce

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broth and herbes de Provence; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until broth mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat; add butter and lemon juice, stirring until butter melts. Serve sauce over chicken. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Dijon Potato Salad with Smoked Sausage

For best results, cut the sausage and potato into evenly sized pieces. To steam in the microwave, place potato and a few tablespoons water into a bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.

6 cups diced red potato (about 2 pounds)
1 (12-ounce) package smoked sausage, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely green red onion
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Steam potato in microwave, covered, 10 minutes or until tender. Place a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add sausage; sauté 2 minutes. Combine potato and sausage in a large bowl. Add celery and remaining ingredients; toss well to coat.

Garnish with smoked paprika.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Friday, August 22, 2008

Angel Hair Pasta with Orange and Spinach Clam Sauce

The bread crumbs give this a really great texture. It's a very interesting recipe.

1 pound angel hair or cappellini pasta
4 (6-ounce) cans whole baby clams, drained and liquid reserved
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup sliced green onion
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup pasta cooking water
1 cup fresh baby spinach (or more, if you really like spinach)

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Combine broth, clam juice, and orange zest in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and simmer 5 minutes.

Toast bread crumbs in a small, dry skillet over medium heat.

Drain pasta, adding 1/2 cup of cooking water to clam mixture in skillet. Add chopped clams. Simmer 1 minute. Place pasta in a large serving bowl. Top with spinach. Pour clam mixture over pasta and spinach. Top each plate with toasted bread crumbs. Serve immediately.

--Adapted from Robin Miller

Salmon with Orange-Fennel Sauce

2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
Cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; add fish. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes, turning once.

Prepare broiler.

Remove fish from bag, reserving marinade. Place fish, skin sides down, on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.Bring reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Serve sauce with fish.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chicken Casserole

This is the old standby - updated, slimmed down, and vastly improved. A top ten recipe.

store-bought rotisserie chicken
Cooking spray
4 cups sliced cremini mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon dried chives
1 box herb-seasoned stuffing mix
3 tablespoons light butter, melted

Shred the rotisserie chicken into bite-sized pieces. Place chicken in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes. Remove from skillet. Place flour in skillet; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Add broth, wine, basil, and garlic; cook over medium heat 12 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in mushrooms, salt, pepper, and chives; pour over chicken.

Combine the stuffing mix and butter in a bowl, and sprinkle over the mushroom mixture. Cover and bake casserole at 400° for 20 minutes. Uncover and cook casserole 10 minutes or until bubbly.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lemon Basil Shrimp and Pasta

One of the best summer pasta dishes.

3 quarts water
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons drained capers
3 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups baby spinach

Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add pasta; cook 8 minutes. Add shrimp to pan; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done and pasta is al dente. Drain. Place pasta mixture in a large bowl. Stir in basil and next 4 ingredients (through salt). Place 1/2 cup spinach on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 1/2 cups pasta mixture.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Blueberry-Almond Streusel Muffins

We opted to make these muffins without the streusel, but we included the directions in case you would like to try it. These were easy to make and delicious (according to Mr.BlueToes because Mrs. BlueToes can't stand cooked blueberries), but we think they would be better if you added cranberries instead of blueberries.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup 2% low-fat milk
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/3 cup light ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 large egg whites
1 1/3 cups blueberries
Cooking spray
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon reduced-calorie stick margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk and next 6 ingredients (milk through egg whites); stir well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Gently stir in blueberries. Spoon batter into 18 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.

Combine 1/4 cup flour and remaining ingredients; sprinkle evenly over batter. Bake at 400° for 18 minutes or until done. Remove from pans immediately; cool on a wire rack. Yield 18 muffins.

--From Cooking Light Magazine

Roasted Pepper-Horseradish Dip

1 bottle roasted red bell peppers
3 tablespoons low-fat sour cream
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse till smooth.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Basic Cocktail Shrimp

This one of the better shrimp recipes I've run across.

32 shell-on (21 to 25 count) tiger shrimp
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups ice

Devein shrimp, but leave the shells on.

Place cleaned shrimp into a bowl with brine and refrigerate mixture for 20 to 25 minutes.

Place a baking sheet or broiler pan under oven broiler and preheat for 5 minutes. Remove shrimp from brine and drain thoroughly. Rinse the shrimp under cold water and dry on paper towels. In a large bowl, toss shrimp with olive oil and sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning, if desired.

Place shrimp onto a sizzling sheet pan and return to broiler immediately. After 2 minutes, turn the shrimp with a pair of tongs. Return the shrimp to broiler for 1 minute. Transfer to a cold cookie sheet. Refrigerate immediately.

--Adapted from Alton Brown

New Potato and Green Bean Salad

1 (3-pound) bag new potatoes, quartered
1 pound fresh green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, add potatoes to enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and boil for 8 minutes. Add green beans, return to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and cool slightly.

Place potatoes and green beans in a serving bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and next 5 ingredients. Pour over potato and green beans, tossing gently to coat. Cover and chill.

--Adapted from Paula Deen

Salmon with Lemon, Capers, and Rosemary

4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
8 lemon slices (about 2 lemons)
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1/2 cup white wine
4 teaspoons capers

4 pieces of aluminum foil

Brush top and bottom of salmon fillets with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Place each piece of seasoned salmon on a piece of foil large enough to fold over and seal. Top the each piece of salmon with 2 lemon slices, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of wine, and 1 teaspoon of capers. Wrap up salmon tightly in the foil packets.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Place the foil packets on the hot grill and cook for 10 minutes for a 1-inch thick piece of salmon. Serve in the foil packets.

--Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Monday, August 11, 2008

Chicken Creole

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds skinned, boned chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup (1-inch) cubed reduced-sodium ham
3 tablespoons minced fresh or 1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons minced fresh or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimento
1/2 cup frozen green peas

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add chicken and ham; sauté 10 minutes or until chicken is browned. Remove mixture from pan. Add onion, basil, oregano, and garlic to pan. Sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender; stir occasionally. Add tomato and next 8 ingredients (tomato through pimento); bring to a boil. Return chicken mixture to pan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes. Stir in peas; cook 2 minutes.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Chile-Brined Roasted Pork Loin

7 cups water, divided
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons grated lime rind
1 tablespoon Mexican dried oregano
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
2 cups ice cubes
1 (3-pound) boneless pork loin, trimmed
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Mexican dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
Cooking spray

Combine 1 cup water, cumin, rind, 1 tablespoon oregano, and 6 garlic cloves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Pour into a large bowl; cool to room temperature. Add remaining 6 cups water, salt, and sugar, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Stir in chiles. Pour salt mixture into a 2-gallon zip-top plastic bag. Add ice and pork; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 24 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 450°.

Remove pork from bag; discard brine. Pat pork dry with paper towels. Combine juice, pepper, 1 teaspoon oregano, and 2 garlic cloves. Place pork in a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Brush juice mixture over pork. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325° (do not remove pork from oven); bake an additional 45 minutes or until thermometer inserted into thickest portion of pork registers 155°. Place pork on a platter. Cover with foil; let stand for 15 minutes. Thinly slice.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Saturday, August 9, 2008


These are interesting. Pretty good, but a bit too much for a main dish. They would make a great appetizer though, in the place of the traditional meatballs. These might also work very well as dumplings in a soup.

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 pound frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup for coating
1 jar store bought marinara sauce, heated

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a large bowl, mix ricotta, spinach, Parmesan cheese, eggs, and yolks. Stir in nutmeg, salt, pepper, and flour. Form mixture in to small, flattened balls.

Dredge the formed gnudi in flour to coat, tapping off the excess. Slide formed gnudi into the boiling water. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan; work in batches if necessary. Remove the gnudi using a slotted spoon after they float to the top and have cooked for about 4 minutes.

Arrange gnudi on a platter and lightly drizzle with marinara sauce.

--Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Upside-down Pizza

This recipe uses sausage and mushrooms, but I don't see any reason why you couldn't use other toppings. I used ground beef and mushrooms, and it worked fine.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound sweet or hot turkey sausage, casing removed
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 cup pasta sauce
1 cup pizza sauce
16 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook for 3 minutes, or until browned and cooked through, breaking up the meat as it cooks with a wooden spoon. Add mushrooms and cook 2 minutes, until soft. Add pasta sauce, pizza sauce. Bring to a simmer, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer sauce to the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and oil until blended. Whisk in flour and salt until well blended. Pour mixture over sauce in pan. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Bake 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

--Adapted from Robin Miller

Italian Stuffed Summer Vegetables

I added browned ground beef to the stuffing in order to make this a complete meal.

1 large red bell pepper, halved lengthwise
2 large yellow squash, halved lengthwise (about 1 pound)
1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise (about 1/2 pound)
Cooking spray
3 ounces Italian bread
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled plum tomato
1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375°.

Discard seeds and membranes from bell pepper. Carefully scoop out squash and zucchini pulp, leaving shells intact. Finely chop pulp; set aside. Place bell pepper halves, squash shells, and zucchini shells, cut sides up, in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Coat shells with cooking spray.

Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until crumbs measure 1 1/2 cups. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chopped pulp and garlic; cook 4 minutes or until moisture evaporates, stirring frequently. Add tomato; cook 2 minutes or until tomato begins to soften, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in the breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup cheese, parsley, black pepper, and salt. Divide mixture evenly among prepared bell pepper halves, squash shells, and zucchini shells; sprinkle evenly with 1/4 cup cheese. Cover pan with foil, and bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until shells are tender.

Preheat broiler.Remove foil; broil 4 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Friday, August 8, 2008

Broiled Salmon with Dijon-Marmalade Glaze

1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
Cooking spray

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well. Place fish on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Brush half of marmalade mixture over fish; broil 6 minutes. Brush fish with remaining marmalade mixture; broil for 2 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Watermelon Sorbet

6 cups watermelon
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water

Cut watermelon into cubes. Freeze 8 hours, or overnight.

Add watermelon, corn syrup, and water to blender. Puree until smooth.

Freeze watermelon puree until solidified (about 4 hours); stir sorbet every half hour to get the proper texture.

Chicken with Cider and Bacon Sauce

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bacon slices, chopped
1/4 cup minced green onion
3/4 cup unsweetened apple cider
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Add chicken to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

Add cider and broth; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until broth mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup (about 5 minutes). Add onion to pan; cook 1 minute or until tender, stirring constantly.

Stir in cooked bacon; serve sauce over chicken.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Monday, August 4, 2008

Not-sanga Pasta Toss

So this is one of those cutesy Rachel Ray things - but it's still pretty awesome. You could also serve this in a 9x13 baking dish like regular lasagna. Toss the pasta and cheese, cover with sauce, add cheese, and throw under the broiler for a few minutes to brown it up.

1 pound curly short cut pasta (recommended: campanelle, fusilli, gemelli, or cavatappi
Coarse salt
1 pound ground sirloin
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, eyeball it in your palm
1/2 teaspoon allspice (or ground cloves), eyeball it in your palm
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine, a couple of glugs
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup fresh basil, about 20 leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a couple of handfuls, plus some to pass at table
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Heat a large pot of water to boil for pasta. Salt water and cook pasta to al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water.

Brown the ground beef; drain. Add pasta sauce and beef. Add the next 6 ingredients, garlic through wine.

Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 5 minutes.

Place ricotta cheese in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Add a 1/4 cup of boiling, starchy pasta water to the ricotta and stir to combine - you may need to add more to get the ricotta to a smooth paste. Add a couple of handfuls of grated Parmesan to the ricotta and mix it in. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with cheeses. Add half the thick meat sauce to the pasta bowl and combine.

Tear or shred the basil and add to the meat and pasta, toss again. Taste to adjust salt and pepper. Serve bowlfuls of Not-sagna with extra sauce and mozzarella on top and more grated Parmesan to pass at the table.

--Adapted from Rachel Ray

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Watermelon Coolers

8 cups (1/2-inch) watermelon cubes
1 1/2 cups ginger ale
1/3 cup water
1 (6-oz.) can frozen limeade concentrate
6 oz. tequila or watermelon vodka (optional)
3 oz. triple sec or other orange liqueur (optional)

1. Place watermelon cubes in a single layer in an extra-large zip-top plastic freezer bag, and freeze 8 hours. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.

2. Process watermelon, half the ginger ale, water, limeade concentrate, and spirits in a blender until smooth; pour mixture into a pitcher.

3. Pour into glasses, and top with extra watermelon and ginger ale.

--Adapted from Southern Living magazine

Strawberry Parfaits

This would seem to make a great frozen dessert, maybe as a pie.

4 cups sliced strawberries, divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup amaretti cookie crumbs (about 8 cookies)
1/2 cup frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted

Place 2 cups of strawberry slices and granulated sugar in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Set strawberry puree aside.

Combine ricotta and next 4 ingredients (ricotta through vanilla) in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk. Spoon 2 tablespoons cookie crumbs into each of 4 parfait glasses. Top each portion with 2 tablespoons strawberry puree, 1/4 cup strawberry slices, and 3 tablespoons ricotta mixture; repeat the layers. Drizzle the remaining strawberry puree over each serving. Chill for 2 hours. Top each parfait with 2 tablespoons whipped topping and 1 1/2 teaspoons almonds.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

White Bean and Tuna Panzanella

Cut the bread into chunks a little larger than the beans.

1/2 baguette
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons capers (or two chopped dill pickles)
4 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
kosher salt and pepper
2 7 oz. packages of tuna, drained

Heat oven to 400.

Cut the bread into bite-sized chunks. Spray liberally with cooking spray, and toss with salt. Toast the bread for 6-8 minutes, or until golden brown, turning once. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

While the bread cools, mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the bread, and stir.

Panzanella can be served immediately, but the flavors will combine the longer it sits.

--Adapted from Real Simple magazine

Grilled Corn Salad

6 ears of corn, shucked
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 scallions, sliced
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Grill the corn, turning occasionally, until slightly charred, 3-4 minutes. Cut the kernels off the cob, place in a medium bowl, and toss with the butter, scallions, cilantro, salt, and chili powder.

--Adapted from Real Simple magazine

Honey BBQ glazed Burgers

1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 lb ground beef
4 English muffins, split

Combine first 4 ingredients, set aside.

Heat one side of the grill to medium high, leaving the other side unlit (or for a charcoal grill, pile all the coals to one side of the grill). Form the ground beef into 4 patties, pressing a thumb into the middle to create a divot - so the burgers don't bloat up when you grill them.

Grill over the hot side 4 minutes. Flip to the cool side, and grill - covered - for 4 minutes. Baste with ketchup mixture. Grill - covered - for 2 more minutes. Flip, baste, and grill - covered - for 2 more minutes.

Toast English muffins, top with burgers and arugula.

--Adapted from Real Simple magazine