“And the award goes to…” (My absolute favorite Cooking Light recipes)

Over the last few months I’ve been posting recipes from Cooking Light magazine (which in case I haven’t made it clear thus far I am in love with).  It’s my dietary beacon, my kitchen bible, and the thing that keeps me happy and sane on my journey to a healthier lifestyle.  I swear it’s the perfect marriage of healthy and delicious.  I’ve made dozens of recipes over the past few months and I felt it was time for a recap of the amazing ones.  There’s good, there’s great, and there’s “Excuse me while I lick my plate clean”. These are my Cooking Light “Excuse me while I lick my plate clean” favorites:

1. Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken)

arroz-con-pollo-ck-592349-x

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken drumsticks (about 1 1/2 pounds), skinned
  • 6 chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds), skinned
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup diced ham (*I’ve always omitted the ham. No special reason.)
  • 2 1/4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (*If I’m being completely honest, I sub regular chicken broth for this.  One of the biggest lessons I learned in culinary school is the magic of salt.  It makes a world of difference in how your food tastes.  I had the lower sodium broth version of this dish the first time I made it.  It was good – but it lacked the flavor that the regular broth brings.  I rationalize this deviation in my mind by reminding myself that I don’t use the olives or the diced ham, which both contain sodium.  So it “all evens out in the wash”, as they say.)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives (*I also leave these out. I don’t care much for green olives.)

Preparation

  1. Sprinkle chicken with salt, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon oregano. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 8 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove chicken from pan; drizzle with lime juice. Cover; keep warm.
  2. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon oregano, turmeric, and cumin, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in rice and ham; cook 1 minute. Increase heat to medium. Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Add chicken, nestling into the rice mixture. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 18 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed. Stir in peas; cover and cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand, uncovered, 5 minutes. Sprinkle with olives.
I’ve served this meal to family and friends and no one ever had a clue that it was a “light” meal.  It’s tasty, tasty, tasty.

2. Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup orzo mixture and about 7 shrimp)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 7 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp $
  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation

  1. Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Place orzo in a medium bowl. Stir in parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cover and keep warm.
  2. While orzo cooks, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add half of shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in pan. Add remaining shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer to plate.
  3. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in pan. Add garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in shrimp, juice, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done.

Nutritional Information:

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 403
  • Fat: 10.4g
  • Saturated fat: 4.8g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 2.2g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.4g
  • Protein: 40.1g
  • Carbohydrate: 34.7g
  • Fiber: 1.7g
  • Cholesterol: 276mg
  • Iron: 4.3mg
  • Sodium: 549mg
  • Calcium: 97mg

3. Chicken Thighs with Olives and Tomato Sauce

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 chicken thighs and about 1/3 cup sauce)

Ingredients

  • 12 chicken thighs (about 4 pounds), skinned
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

  1. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Place chicken in an electric slow cooker. Add garlic to pan, and sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 30 seconds. Place wine mixture in cooker. Add tomato paste, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes to cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 hours. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, olives, and parsley.

Nutritional Information:

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 270
  • Fat: 12.9g
  • Saturated fat: 3.3g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 5.6g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 2.8g
  • Protein: 29.1g
  • Carbohydrate: 8.7g
  • Fiber: 2.2g
  • Cholesterol: 99mg
  • Iron: 2.4mg
  • Sodium: 658mg
  • Calcium: 44mg

4. Chicken with Lemon-Leek Linguine

Image

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast half and 1 cup pasta mixture)

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces uncooked linguine
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; keep warm.
  2. Place chicken between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to an even thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish; dredge chicken in flour, shaking to remove excess.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, leek, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; sauté 4 minutes. Add broth and juice; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add pasta to leek mixture; toss well to combine. Serve chicken over pasta mixture; sprinkle with parsley.

Nutritional Information:

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 474
  • Fat: 11.5g
  • Saturated fat: 6.2g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 2.7g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.9g
  • Protein: 46.8g
  • Carbohydrate: 44g
  • Fiber: 2.3g
  • Cholesterol: 121mg
  • Iron: 3.8mg
  • Sodium: 592mg
  • Calcium: 57mg

5. Mushroom and Provolone Patty Melts

Image

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dark beer (such as porter)
  • 8 (1.1-ounce) slices rye bread
  • 4 (3/4-ounce) slices reduced-fat provolone cheese

Preparation

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Shape beef into 4 (4-inch) patties. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done.
  2. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, salt, pepper, and mushrooms; sauté 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer; cook 30 seconds or until thick. Remove from heat; keep warm.
  3. When patties are done, remove from large skillet. Wipe pan clean; heat over medium-high heat. Coat 1 side of each bread slice with cooking spray. Place 4 bread slices, coated sides down, in pan. Top each with 1 patty, 1 cheese slice, and one-fourth of mushroom mixture. Top with remaining bread slices; coat with cooking spray. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned.

Nutritional Information:

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 416
  • Fat: 17.1g
  • Saturated fat: 6.2g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 7.7g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.4g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Carbohydrate: 34.3g
  • Fiber: 4.1g
  • Cholesterol: 42mg
  • Iron: 3.9mg
  • Sodium: 708mg
  • Calcium: 232mg

6. Beef Filets with Pomegranate-Pinot Sauce

Image

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 steak and about 2 teaspoons sauce)

Ingredients

  • 4 (4-ounce) beef tenderloin steaks, trimmed
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1/3 cup pinot noir or burgundy wine
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Preparation

  1. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks evenly with salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add steaks to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove steaks from pan; keep warm.
  2. Add shallots to pan; sauté 30 seconds. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, wine, juice, broth, and thyme sprig; bring to a boil. Cook 7 minutes or until reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Remove from heat; discard thyme sprig. Add butter to sauce, stirring until butter melts. Serve sauce with steaks.

Nutritional Information:

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 227
  • Fat: 12.3g
  • Saturated fat: 5.7g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 4.2g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5g
  • Protein: 24g
  • Carbohydrate: 3.8g
  • Fiber: 0.1g
  • Cholesterol: 82mg
  • Iron: 3.4mg
  • Sodium: 354mg
  • Calcium: 15mg

7. Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Onions

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • 2 cups Gala apple wedges
  • 1 tablespoon butter, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut pork loin chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Pat onions dry with a paper towel. Add onions to pan; cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring once. Add apple to pan; place in oven. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until onions and apple are tender. Stir in 2 teaspoons butter, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add pork to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove pork from pan; keep warm. Combine broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add broth mixture to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook 1 minute or until reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir in vinegar and remaining 1 teaspoon butter. Serve sauce with pork and apple mixture.

Nutritional Information:

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 240
  • Fat: 10g
  • Saturated fat: 3.3g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 4.1g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.4g
  • Protein: 24.9g
  • Carbohydrate: 11g
  • Fiber: 1.5g
  • Cholesterol: 84mg
  • Iron: 1mg
  • Sodium: 379mg
  • Calcium: 28mg

A few important notes:

1. I cheat and don’t buy low-sodium/fat free broth. Yes, using regular chicken broth (or beef broth) adds a few extra calories to the meal – but not enough for me to forego the considerable flavor loss if you don’t use the real stuff. If you want to be good about it and buy the low-sodium stuff, I highly recommend that you compensate for the low-sodium broth buy adding a little extra salt to the dish.

2. On the topic of salt: salt = flavor, my friends.  Learning the magical powers of salt blew my mind when I was in culinary school.  I had no idea how important it was to delicious food.  If you are of the school of thought that salt is the devil and prefer not to cook with it – well… we will just agree to disagree. I’m not losing any friends over our personal views on proper seasoning. 😉  But a lot of these dishes went from good to GREAT by adding an extra few pinches of salt.

3. As a huge fan of red chili flake, I add it to many a Cooking Light meal (even if the recipe doesn’t call for it).  So if you love red chili flake like I do, don’t be afraid to toss a little onto your diet food and kick it up a notch.

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8 thoughts on ““And the award goes to…” (My absolute favorite Cooking Light recipes)

  1. So many of our family’s favorite recipes come from Cooking Light. I haven’t subscribed for a while, but I think it’s time to again.

    I’ve definitely going to make that provolone and mushroom patty melt and the arroz con pollo. YUM!

  2. I absolutely love pork and apples together but have never tried cooking them myself. This recipe doesn’t seem too difficult and I will definitely have to try it out!

  3. Pingback: Pork Chops with Apples and Onions over Mashed Potatoes | Puppies In The Kitchen

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