Friday, June 19, 2009

Nita's Corn Casserole

OK, this is actually Paula Deen's corn casserole..but I got the recipe from my friend Nita so I am giving her the credit! Haha! This recipe will remind you of the corn cake from Chichi's or Don Pablo's..this is perfect to make for a mexican meal! It is also very inexpensive to make, since it uses cheap Jiffy corn muffin mix and canned corn. The recipe doubles perfectly for a 9x13 dish so this is also a great side dish for pitch-ins. This recipe uses regular sized cans of corn, approximately 15 oz. each.

Corn Casserole
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can cream style corn
1 small package (8 oz) jiffy corn muffin mix
1 cup sour cream
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) butter or margarine, melted
1-2 tbsp. sugar, optional

In a large bowl, stir together the two cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, sugar if using, and melted butter. Pour into a greased casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
*for 9x13 pan: double all ingredients. Bake in 9x13x2in. pan 45-60 minutes or until golden brown.

Panera Low-Fat Black Bean Soup

I LOVE the low-fat black bean soup at Panera, and this tastes so much like it! I made it for lunch for my family one day and they were really impressed. A wonderful tasting soup that just happens to be vegetarian and low in fat! This recipe only makes 4 servings, so I highly recommend doubling it if you really love this soup.

Panera Black Bean Soup
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1/4 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 can (15 oz) vegetable stock
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, undrained
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 lemon, juice of
1 & 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 & 1/2 tbsp. water

In a pot, bring the first five ingredients to a boil; lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add half a can of beans, salt and cumin, simmer an additional 5 minutes. Puree soup (just pour it into a magic bullet or blender and puree) and return to pot. Add the rest of the beans to the soup. Combine cornstarch with 1 and 1/2 tbsp. water and stir until dissolved. Add the cornstarch and the lemon juice (I just hold the lemon half over the pot and give it a good squeeze) and cook until thickened. Makes 4 servings.

Easy French Bread

This recipe makes the best french bread ever! It makes 2-3 good sized loafs and while it doesn't take a lot of actual time to make, you want to start this in the morning or early afternoon as the dough needs over 4 hours of rising time. You can also make the bread a day ahead of time...just plan on removing the dough from the fridge 90 minutes before you need to bake it. Basically you can do other things and occasionally you need to return to the bread for a few minutes of work. The taste is SO worth the extra time! I made this for my family with soup for lunch one day and everyone LOVED it, we ate 2 1/2 loaves in one sitting!

French Bread

2 packages dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 tsp. sugar
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast into bottom. Pour in warm water (make sure it is not too warm or it will kill the yeast - 110-115 degrees), salt and sugar. Stir lightly and let stand for 5 minutes or until yeast dissolves and starts to bubble. Stir in 2 cups flour and let rise for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, gradually stir in remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface (I use a cutting board covered in flour) and knead for 10 minutes. (to knead dough, just press into dough with your hands and continue to turn it over..very relaxing!) Then clean the large bowl, grease it with a tiny bit of solid shortening or oil (or you can spray the bowl with non-stick cooking spray if you prefer fat-free bread). Turn the dough in the bowl so that dough is greased (this prevents the top from cracking as it rises).
Cover the dough and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours and 30 mins. Punch down the dough and divide dough in half and place one half on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a 12x6 rectangle. (the measurements don't have to be perfect by the way..I divide my dough into 3 parts and make 3 smaller loaves). Starting with the 12in. side, roll up tightly, sealing edges by pinching. Repeat with remaining dough.
Grease a cookie sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves on prepared sheet. If making bread a day ahead of baking, cover loaves with foil and put into fridge at this point. Plan on removing them 90 mins. before desired baking time. If not cover loaves and let rise at room temperature, about 1 hour.
If loaves have been made ahead, pull out of fridge and let rise at room temperature 90 minutes before baking. Spray the loaves with a bit of water and using a sharp knife, make a few slits in the top of the bread. Bake loaves at 425 degrees for 25-30minutes or until loaves are lightly golden brown. Makes 2-3 loaves depending on size.

Light Classic Lasagna

This lasagna has a classic italian taste and the best part is you don't have to boil the noodles before baking it! This really cuts down on preparation time and hassle. The original recipe calls for vegetable juice in place of water, but I subsititute water and it lowers the sodium content considerably but I don't notice the difference in taste! I love to throw in some of my fresh garden herbs (parsley and basil) with the sauce. If you use low-fat cottage cheese, 2% shredded cheese and 90% lean ground beef to make this it has about the same nutrition figures per serving as Weight Watchers frozen lasagna.

Light Classic Lasagna
1 1/2 lbs. 90% lean ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cans (14-16oz each) petite or regular diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
2 envelopes (1.5 oz each) spaghetti sauce mix
3 cups water (or can use 3 cups vegetable juice instead)
fresh herbs, optional
9 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 carton (16 oz) low-fat cottage cheese
2 cups 2% or reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated reduced-fat parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, brown chopped onion and ground beef; drain. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce mixes and water (or vegetable juice if you prefer). Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. If using fresh italian herbs (such as basil or parsley), stir into sauce. Cover the bottom of a foiled and lightly greased 13x9x2in. baking pan with a thin layer of meat sauce. On top of that, layer 3 lasagna noodles, one-third of the cottage cheese, one-third of the mozzarella cheese and one-third of parmesan cheese and one-third of the remaining meat sauce. Repeat layers twice. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until heated through. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Makes 12 servings, each serving 290 calories.