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Comfort Foods: Fun And Delicious

Eating healthy is a big part of keeping our weight under control. Once you reach your ideal weight, you can splurge and have a treat or two. Life is no fun if you can’t enjoy the foods you love. Just be sure to keep to your schedule calorie in take. If you have a delicious, calorie filled lunch, cut back on dinner. Do treat yourself to that fresh cookie right out of the oven (does anything taste better?), just don’t eat 12 cookies. Moderation and common sense is the key to a healthy diet and keeping the extra pounds off.

Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Vinegar and Garlic

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Rinse the mushrooms and pat dry. Season the flour with salt and pepper and dredge the chicken breasts in the flour mixture. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat and saute the chicken until it is nicely browned on one side (about 3 minutes).

Add the garlic. Turn the chicken breasts and scatter the mushrooms over them. Continue frying, shaking the skillet and stirring the mushrooms. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the vinegar, broth, bay leaf and thyme. Cover tightly and simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes, turning occasionally.

Transfer the chicken to a warm serving platter and cover with foil. Set aside. Continue simmering the sauce, uncovered, over medium high heat for about 7 minutes. Swirl in the butter or margarine and discard the bay leaf. Pour this mushroom sauce mixture over the chicken and serve.

Spring Risotto

Ingredients

  • 6  cups  boiling water, divided
  • 1  cup  dried morels
  • 2  pounds  unshelled fava beans
  • 5  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 2  cups  thinly sliced leek (about 3 large)
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 2  cups  Arborio rice
  • 2  tablespoons  sun-dried tomato paste
  • 1  cup  dry white wine
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3  cup  sliced green onions
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) finely grated fresh Romano cheese

Preparation

Combine 3 cups of boiling water and morels in a bowl; cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain mushrooms; rinse with cold water. Drain and chop.

Remove beans from pods; discard pods. Place beans in a medium saucepan with remaining 3 cups boiling water; cook beans 1 minute. Rinse with cold water. Drain; remove outer skins from beans. Discard skins.

Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep broth warm over low heat.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek and garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until leek is tender. Add rice and tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, salt, and pepper; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in 1 cup broth; cook about 2 1/2 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Stir in morels and beans; cook for 30 seconds or until thoroughly heated. Stir in green onions. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.

Mexican Bean Stew

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried pinto beans
  • 1 cup dry black beans
  • 1 cup dry garbanzo beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste

Directions

Rinse and sort pinto beans, black beans and garbanzo beans. Place in a large bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight.

Drain beans and place in a large pot; cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 hour, or until beans are tender. It may be necessary to add more water during cooking to prevent drying out or scorching.

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic until onion is transparent. Stir in cumin. To the beans add the onions, garlic and crushed tomatoes. Simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in corn and cinnamon; cook 15 minutes more. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste before serving.


Classic Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 2  medium onions, chopped
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil, divided
  • 4  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  pound  lean ground beef
  • 1  (14.5-oz.) can basil, garlic, and oregano diced tomatoes
  • 2  (6-oz.) cans tomato paste
  • 1  (8-oz.) can basil, garlic, and oregano tomato sauce
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 1  teaspoon  Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/4  teaspoons  salt, divided
  • 3/4  teaspoon  pepper, divided
  • 12  lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 8  cups  boiling water
  • 1  (16-oz.) container ricotta cheese
  • 2  large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4  cup  grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2  (6-oz.) packages part-skim mozzarella cheese slices
  • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

Sauté onion in 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Add beef, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until beef crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain beef mixture, and return to skillet. Stir in diced tomatoes, next 4 ingredients, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf; set meat sauce aside.

Place lasagna noodles in a 13- x- 9-inch pan. Carefully pour 8 cups boiling water and remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil over noodles. Let stand 15 minutes.

Stir together ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, and remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper until blended.

Spoon half of the meat sauce mixture in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Shake excess water from noodles, and arrange 6 noodles over meat sauce; top with half of ricotta mixture and 1 package mozzarella cheese slices. Repeat layers once.

Bake, covered, at 350° for 55 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until bubbly. Let lasagna stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish, if desired.

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