White Mac and Cheese

IMAG0540This recipe is derived from the Two-Cheese Mac and Cheese recipe from the Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2014 cookbook as part of my 2017 A Year of Cooking Light Challenge

Servings: 6
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Approximate Cost per Serving: $0.75 / plate

Chef’s Note: The hubby and I agree, this is one of the best recipes so far this year and definitely a repeater.  While not the healthiest recipe in my challenge, it’s still better than a lot of dinners out there and super cheap to boot, especially when you plan ahead and buy the pasta and cheese on sale (I always get ours BOGO).

Ingredients:

  • Water
  • Salt
  • 10 oz small shells pasta
  • 2 Tbps canola oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1 large (2 tsp) chicken bouillon cube (can sub vegetarian bouillon)
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz light cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Kitchenware:

  • Stove
  • Medium pot
  • Strainer
  • Garlic press
  • Dutch oven (or large pot)
  • Wooden stirring spoon
  • Whisk
  • Oven
  • 1.5 – 2 qt casserole dish
  • Cooking spray

Steps:

  1. Fill the medium pot halfway with water.  Add salt and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain and set aside when done.
  2. Preheat oven under broiler setting to high.
  3. Heat the Dutch oven over medium heat.  While heating, peel the garlic.  When heated, add the canola oil and swirl to coat.  Press the garlic over the pan and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add 1 cup of water and half (1 tsp) of the bouillon cube.  Stir to combine and dissolve the bouillon.  Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute.  While waiting for the mixture to boil, combine the remaining 1 1/4 cups of water with the remaining bouillon, milk and flour.  Stir with a whisk until well blended.  Add this mixture to the Dutch oven.  Return to a boil and cook 5 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken.
  5. Remove the Dutch oven from the burner.  Add the cream cheese, salt, and pepper and stir until smooth.  Add the pasta to the Dutch oven and mix to coat.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
  6. Coat the casserole dish with cooking spray.  Pour the mac and cheese into the casserole dish and spread it evenly.  Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top.  Broil 3 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown.  Remove and let stand 5 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

Ginger Basmati Rice

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This recipe is derived from the Ginger Basmati recipe from the Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2016 cookbook as part of my 2017 A Year of Cooking Light Challenge.

Servings: 4
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Approximate Cost per Serving: $1.00 / plate

Ingredients:

  • fresh ginger (about 3-inches long)
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Kitchenware:

  • medium saucepan
  • stove
  • cutting board
  • kitchen knife

Steps:

  1. Peel the fresh ginger (I use a spoon to kind of peel the skin off.  It tends to work a lot better than a peeler).  Cut into four long pieces.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the chicken bouillon, 1 1/4 cups of water, the coconut milk, and the ginger.  Stir to mix the bouillon in.  Bring to a boil.
  3. Add the rice.  Stir it in and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and let cook 20 minutes (uncovered) until rice is well cooked.
  4. While the rice cooks, chop the cilantro.  When rice is done, fluff the rice before stirring in the cilantro.
  5. Enjoy!

Fancy Tofu Ramen

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This recipe is derived from the Soba with Sesame and Tofu recipe from the Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2001 cookbook as part of my 2017 A Year of Cooking Light Challenge.

Servings: 4
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Approximate Cost per Serving: $2.00 / plate

Ingredients:

  • 3 (3 oz) ramen noddle packages
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 package (12 – 14 oz) firm tofu
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 cup (sliced) green onions
  • 1.5 Tbsp sesame seeds

Kitchenware:

  • stove
  • large saucepan
  • Asian strainer or colander
  • cutting board
  • kitchen knife
  • measuring spoons
  • peeler
  • small saucepan
  • small mixing bowl
  • large mixing bowl

Steps:

  1. Cook the ramen noodles per package directions, omitting the flavoring packet, in the large saucepan.  Once cooked, remove from the saucepan with the strainer or drain in the colander.  Add to the large mixing bowl.
  2. In the small mixing bowl combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, ground ginger, sugar, and sesame oil.  Mix until combined well.
  3. Drain the tofu and cube it.  Add to the small mixing bowl, tossing to coat evenly in the sauce.  Set aside.
  4. Peel and thinly slice the cucumber.  Thinly slice the green onions.  Add both to the large mixing bowl.
  5. In the small saucepan, heat the sesame seeds over medium heat until toasted (approximately 2 minutes).  Add to the large mixing bowl.  Toss the noodle mixture to combine well (this may take a while as the ramen noodles can tend to stick together).
  6. Divide the noodles into four bowls.  Top with the tofu and sauce.
  7. Enjoy!

Green Bean Pasta

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This recipe is derived from the Fusilli with Green Beans and Oregano recipe from the Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2001 cookbook as part of my 2017 A Year of Cooking Light Challenge.

Servings: 4
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Approximate Cost per Serving: $1.00 / plate

Chef’s Note: I ran out of rotini pasta, so combined bow tie pasta to make do.  Rotini works better though.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz dry/uncooked rotini pasta
  • 1/2 pound green beans
  • 1/2 cup (chopped) flat-leaf/Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Kitchenware:

  • stove
  • large saucepan
  • medium saucepan
  • colander
  • cutting board
  • kitchen knife
  • measuring spoons
  • garlic press
  • large mixing bowl

Steps:

  1. Fill the large saucepan halfway with water.  Wait for it to boil, then cook the rotini pasta as directed.  Drain and add to the large bowl.
  2. While the pasta cooks, fill the medium saucepan halfway with water.  While the water brings to a boil, snap the green beans (into about 1 – 2 inch pieces).  When water is boiling, add the green beans and cook about 5 minutes until tender.  Drain, rinse in cold water, and add to the large bowl.
  3. While the pasta and green beans cook, chop the parsley and thinly slice the green onions.  Peel the garlic clove, then press it.  Add all three to the large bowl.
  4. Add the oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper to the bowl.
  5. Once all have been combined, toss well to mix.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
  6. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Salad

imag0490This recipe is derived from the Couscous, Sweet Potato, and Black Soybean Salad recipe from the Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast cookbook as part of my 2017 A Year of Cooking Light Challenge.

Servings: 4
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Approximate Cost per Serving: $2.25 / plate

While I’m not a big fan of sweet potatoes (unless they are a topping on marshmallows), I really love this recipe (the other subtle flavors make up for the sweet potatoes).  This salad will be many lunches to come later this year.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup couscous
  • 1 lb (approx 2 medium) sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup zesty lime vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 (15.25 oz) can black beans
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 green onions

Kitchenware:

  • Stove
  • Microwave
  • Medium saucepan with lid
  • Peeler
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen knife
  • Large bowl
  • Measuring cup

Steps:

  1. Bring the 3/4 cup of water to a boil in the saucepan.  When boiling, add couscous.  Stir, cover, and remove for heat.  Let stand for 5 minutes with the lid still covering.  Fluff.
  2. While water boils and couscous cooks, peel and cube the sweet potatoes.  Place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for approximately 5 minutes until softened (mixing a few times in between when checking).
  3. Add the vinaigrette, basil, salt, and pepper to the large bowl.  Stir well to combine.  Rinse and drain the black beans.  Add to the mixing bowl with the couscous, sweet potatoes, and spinach.  Toss to mix well.
  4. Thinly slice the green onions.  Sprinkle over the salad with the feta cheese.
  5. Enjoy!

Green Crab Salad

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This recipe is derived from the Crab, Lemon and Avocado Salad recipe from the Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast cookbook as part of my 2017 A Year of Cooking Light Challenge.

Servings: 4
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Approximate Cost per Serving: $1.75 / plate

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 (16 oz) package clump imitation crab meat
  • 1/2 cup (sliced) green onion
  • 8 leaves lettuce (1 head of lettuce)

Kitchenware:

  • peeler
  • cutting board
  • kitchen knife
  • small bowl
  • medium mixing bowl

Steps:

  1. Peel and cube the avocado (small cubes).  Add to the medium mixing bowl.
  2. In the small bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Stir well to combine.
  3. Add the crab meat to the medium mixing bowl, breaking apart the clumps as you remove it from the package.
  4. Thinly slice the green onion.  Add to the medium mixing bowl.  Toss the salad to combine well.
  5. Add the lemon juice from the small bowl to the medium mixing bowl.  Toss to coat.
  6. Line the bottom of each serving bowl with two lettuce leaves.  Serve the salad over the lettuce beds.
  7. Enjoy!

Steamed Chicken with Black Bean Salsa

imag0484This recipe is derived from the Steamed Chicken with Black Bean Salsa recipe from the Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2001 cookbook as part of my 2017 A Year of Cooking Light Challenge.

Servings: 4 (we made with a side of a small baked potato and were stuffed to the gills)
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Approximate Cost per Serving: $2.00 / plate

The original recipe brags: “Don’t write this dish off as plain steamed chicken breast until you’ve tasted it…”.  It was not an exaggeration.  This recipe is deceiving in its simplicity, but delish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large beefsteak or 2 smaller variety tomatoes
  • 1 medium to large jalapeno pepper
  • 1 Tbsp (chopped) fresh cilantro (I always add extra.  Cilantro is my favorite!)
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans
  • 1 cup (thinly sliced) red onion

Kitchenware:

  • Rice cooker/veggie steamer
  • Parchment paper
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Garlic press
  • Cooking board
  • Kitchen knife
  • Measuring spoons
  • Colander
  • Large mixing bowl

Steps:

  1. Prepare steamer with instructed amount of water (in my case, 3 cups).  Turn on and let sit until water begins to boil.
  2. While the water boils, trim all fat from the chicken (I did this over the chicken packaging so I wouldn’t have to wash the cutting board prior to starting the salsa).  Cut chicken into approximately four equal sized pieces (if not already)  Line the steamer tray with parchment.  Place chicken in the steamer tray.
  3. Peel the garlic.  Using the garlic press, press the garlic, separating it evenly over the chicken pieces.  Rub the garlic into the chicken (wash hands once done with this chicken prep).  Once the water begins to boil, place the steamer tray on the rice cooker, cover with the lid, and steam for 20 minutes.
  4. While the water boils/chicken steams, chop the tomato.  Add to the large bowl.  Deseed and devein (unless you like yours with a bigger kick in the mouth) the jalapeno, then mince and add to bowl.  Chop the cilantro and add.
  5. Add the red wine vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  6. Drain and rinse the black beans before adding to the bowl.  Toss to mix all the ingredients well.
  7. Thinly slice the onion.  Arrange the onion slices, divided evenly, among the dinner plates.
  8. When chicken is cooked (internal temperature reaches above 165F),  top the onion with the chicken.  Serve the salsa over the chicken and onion bed.
  9. Enjoy!