Thursday, April 26, 2012

Asparagus Bundles

A wonderful springtime vegetable combined with flaky crescent pastry creates a unique side dish!

Asparagus Bundles      

  • 12 – 16 asparagus stalks
  • 1 package crescent dough sheet (or crescent rolls)*
  • ¼ cup apricot preserves or chutney
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan, Provolone or Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Divide crescent sheet dough into 4 equal rectangles.

Divide apricot preserves equally among crescent dough and spread evenly over dough.  Sprinkle each dough rectangle evenly and equally with shredded cheese.

Remove ends from asparagus stalks and cut all stalks to the same length, approximately 1 inch longer than crescent dough.

Place asparagus on dough rectangles with tips sticking out from the dough.  Bring dough over the top and pinch to seal seam to create bundles.  Place each bundle seam side down on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 15 – 17 minutes until dough is golden brown.

*If using crescent rolls, divide into 4 rectangles (2 rolls make a rectangle) and press seams together before spreading with preserves.

Serves 4

TIP:  Make this a full meal by adding 4 slices (approximately 2 ounces each) of smoked ham from your deli!  Cut each ham slice in half.  To assemble:   place one slice on top of cheese, add the asparagus, and then place other slice on top of asparagus.  Seal bundle as indicated!

Cordon Bleu Pasta

Using fat free chicken broth and low fat cream cheese plus reduced fat cheese to create the sauce lowers the fat and calories in this delicious "comfort" food casserole!

Cordon Bleu Pasta

1 pound tube shaped whole wheat pasta
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 chicken breast, boneless and skinless, cubed
1 1/2 cups fat free chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 ounces low fat cream cheese, at room temperature and cubed
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 cup cubed smoked ham, from the deli (low sodium, if possible)
1 cup shredded reduced fat Swiss cheese
¼ cup minced parsley
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
Several dashes of hot sauce, or to taste
½ cup Panko Crumbs
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a 13” x 9” baking dish (or equivalent) with nonstick cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over med-high heat, stir in 1 – 2 tablespoons salt and add the pasta.  Boil pasta, stirring occasionally, according to package directions, removing pasta two minutes before package states.  Drain and return pasta to the pot.

While pasta is cooking, heat a medium sauce pan over medium high heat, lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Add onions and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes.  Add cubed chicken and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to lightly brown chicken.  Pour in ½ cup chicken broth and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together remaining chicken broth and flour, until well blended.  Whisk into chicken mixture.  Add cream cheese and add to chicken broth, stirring until cream cheese is melted.

Stir chicken mixture into pasta, add scallions, ham, Swiss cheese, parsley, salt, pepper and hot sauce and mix well.  Pour mixture evenly into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with Panko crumbs and lightly spray crumbs with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until bubbly.  Place dish under broiler for a few minutes to brown the top, if desired.

Serves 6

Fresh Orange Muffins

By using fresh oranges and zest to make these muffins, it's almost like eating sunshine....full of healthy fiber and Vitamin C!

Fresh Orange Muffins

1¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 medium oranges
¼ cup orange juice
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin (either a regular size 12 or a large size 6) with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and ginger until well blended.

Zest both oranges into flour mixture and mix well.

Peel oranges (and seed, if necessary) and place in blender with additional orange juice.  Blend oranges and juice on high for 30 seconds, or until oranges are pureed.  Add egg and butter and blend on high again for 10 seconds.

Add orange juice mixture to flour mixture and stir until dry ingredients are just moistened.

Fill muffin cups ½ full.

Bake for 18 – 22 minutes for regular muffins, 21 – 26 minutes for large muffins, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool for 5 minutes and remove from tins to a rack.

If desired, drizzle with orange icing.  Combine 1 cup powdered sugar with enough orange juice to create an icing that will drizzle over the muffins.

Makes 15 regular size muffins or 8 large size muffins.

Orange Whip

This is a wonderful recipe for an after school kid's treat OR a light dessert!  The perfect cool treat for a hot summer afternoon!

Orange Whip

2 medium navel oranges
1 box orange gelatin, sugar free
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup evaporated milk, chilled
1 cup fat free frozen whipped topping, thawed

Roll oranges gently on counter to help release juice.  Cut oranges in half, between navel and stem end.  Carefully, cut between skin and meat of the fruit, being extremely careful not to cut thru skin.  Using your fingers, remove all the meat of the orange and place in a blender.  Repeat on all four orange halves.  Clean orange halves of all remaining meat and set aside.

Blend the oranges on high speed until they are pureed.  Pour into one cup measure (adding water or orange juice to make one cup of liquid).

In medium, microwave safe bowl, bring one cup water to a boil.  Add gelatin to water and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.  Add orange mixture to gelatin and stir to blend well.  Refrigerate until mixture is almost set.

Using a hand mixer, while beating at medium speed, add vanilla and evaporated milk in a steady stream.  Continue beating until gelatin is light and frothy. 

Place orange halves in or on top of small bowls (to keep them upright), fill evenly with orange gelatin and level off top (you will have extra orange gelatin).  Return orange halves to refrigerator to firm completely.

Add whipped topping to remaining gelatin mixture and beat with hand mixer, on high, until well blended.  Place in refrigerator to firm.

Makes 4 orange bowls plus 4 servings of Orange Whip.