Tag Archives: light

Chilled Barley Salad

Summer is officially here, so it’s time for another salad, this time a bit heartier.

This recipe is also inspired by a salad offered at one of our favorite GR restaurants, The Winchester.  At the restaurant, the salad is served topped with a skewer of lamb kafta and drizzled with a cucumber-yogurt sauce.  I wanted something that would last in the fridge a few days, so I incorporated the sauce into the rest of the salad.  I’ve been eating it as-is out of the fridge all weekend, and it’s still just as good as the day I made it.

It’s a great hearty summer salad–fresh tasting, and filling without being too heavy.  Something a little different than the same ol’ macaroni salad doused in mayonnaise.

The important thing to remember when preparing the vegetables for this salad is to dice the onions and peppers very small, so that they are not much bigger than the barley.  It makes for a much more pleasant eating experience.

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Ingredients:

4 cups cooked pearled barley

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 medium red pepper, diced

1 medium yellow or orange pepper, diced

1 small red onion, diced

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt

1 small salad cucumber, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped

1 T fresh dill

1 T fresh mint (about 4-5 leaves)

Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine barley, olive oil, peppers, and onions in a medium sized bowl.  Set aside while preparing dressing.

To make dressing, blend 1/2 cup yogurt, herbs, and cucumber in a blender or food processor.  Gently stir cucumber mixture into the remaining 1/2 cup yogurt.   Stir yogurt dressing into barley mixture.  Salad can be served immediately or chilled overnight.  Salad will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator.

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Low Fat Apricot Walnut Spice Cake with Vanilla Yogurt Sauce

This is a doctored up version of the “subbing applesauce for oil” trick.  I added dried apricots and some walnuts to give it more texture and flavor.  Super easy, yummy, and guilt-free!

Cake:

1 box spice cake mix

1 1/4 c water

1/3 c applesauce

3/4 c egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters)

1/2 c chopped dried apricots

1/4 c chopped walnuts

Yogurt Sauce:

2 cups plain yogurt

1/2 cup honey

1 t vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 325F.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9″ pan.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix gently to combine.  There will be some lumps, but do not overmix! Pour batter into pan and bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Transfer pan to a cooling rack and remove sides.

While cake is baking, prepare sauce by whisking together all ingredients.

Cake is best served warm with a dollop of sauce on the side.

apricot-cake

Cooking Poor #1 — Tuna Burgers

Screw cooking light.  The economy sucks, so here’s to making a tasty dinner on the cheap.

Oh, and this one is kind of light, too.  Bonus!

This recipe is also highly substitutable — I used what I had in the cupboards at the time, which included using crushed Honey Nut Cheerio’s as the binder.   If you’re normal, and have bread crumbs or crackers to crush up, use those.  The cereal worked surprisingly well, though and added a touch of sweetness to the burgers.

Tuna Burgers

Makes 4 burgers

Ingredients:

2 pouches hickory smoked tuna

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup crushed honey nut O’s cereal

1/2 small onion, diced

1 tblsp olive oil

4 slices American cheese (optional)

4 small sandwich buns

Salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and Old Bay seasoning to taste

Directions:

Crush cereal (or crackers, if using) in a blender or food processor.

Combine egg, cereal, tuna, onion, and seasonings in a small bowl.  Mix with hands and form into four equal sized patties.   Shoo cats away.

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Heat large saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil.  Shoo cats away again.

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Add burgers to pan and cook about 5-6 minutes per side, flipping once.  Avoid excessive handling, the burgers will be slightly fragile.   Lock cats up in basement.

Place cheese on top of burgers, if using, and top with bun half.  Cook until melted, then place burgers on bottom bun halves and serve.

Light Banana Muffins with Chocolate Drizzle

I’ve been drooling over the beautiful cupcakes in this community for awhile now and have been dying to make some of my own.  However, I don’t have a special occasion coming up to make them for, and if I don’t share them my husband and I will eat them all, thereby blowing our New Years diet plans.

This is what I came up with to satisfy our collective sweet tooth for now:


Light Banana Muffins with Chocolate Drizzle

1 pkg Reduced Sugar White Cake Mix
2 ripe bananas
1 cup low fat milk
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or sub 1 tsp vanilla extract)
2 squares (2 oz) dark chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare muffin pan by using paper cups or spraying with cooking spray.  Mash bananas and milk together using mixer on low speed.  Add vanilla, cake mix, and baking soda and mix until just combined.  Scoop batter into prepared muffin panand bake for 20-25 minutes.

When muffins are cool, drizzle with chocolate.

For the record, I’m not sure if the baking soda was necessary.  All in all pretty tasty, just enough sweet to keep us going 🙂

Butt Kickin’ Chicken Chili

This is my lighter-version “rough draft” for a chili cook off I’m entering in at work.

My beef chili is nothing special, despite several attempts to make it better.  So I decided to try something relatively new to me and make chicken chili instead.  I think it turned out pretty tasty, but you be the judge.

One note on my measurements:  the amount of chopped veggies is somewhat approximate since I was making a pizza at the same time and used some of the onions and peppers for that as well. I personally hate it when recipes call for half of a vegetable, but I may have to do that here.  I apologize to anyone else who has that same pet peeve.

I like my chili spicy, so I went with a blend of fresh, dried, and canned (in the form of prepared salsa) peppers as my heat source.  They all lend a different type of heat, and I think they balanced each other well.  You can adjust the level of heat by seeding the fresh and dried peppers, or by using less as needed.  But only if you’re a wuss.

The finished product looks kind of anemic, but like any chili tastes much better the next day, which is when I took this picture.  The cilantro sour cream is a must!

Butt Kickin’ Chicken Chili

Ingredients:

3-4  boneless, skinless chicken breasts (depending on size)
2 T   olive oil
1      small red onion, halved and sliced thinly
1/2   red pepper, sliced thinly
1/2   yellow or orange pepper, sliced thinly
3       cloves garlic, minced
1       medium poblano pepper, diced with seeds and ribs
2       small red chili peppers, diced with seeds and ribs
1       dried california pepper, diced with seeds and ribs
1/2 c celery, diced
1        12 oz package sliced mushrooms
2        15 oz cans chicken broth
1        16 oz jar salsa verde (2 cups)
1 c      any “red” salsa
Salt, pepper, and cumin to taste

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat.  Add all veggies except mushrooms and heat until translucent and fragrant. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and cumin.  Add mushrooms and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add chicken broth and salsa and bring mixture to a boil.  Add chicken breasts and simmer for 1 hour or until chicken is tender and can be broken apart.

Serve with cool cheddar cilantro sour cream:

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1/3   onion, roughly chopped
2 c  sour cream (one 16 oz package)
~ 1 c  cilantro leaves, loosely packed
2 T  fresh chives
juice of one lime
salt and pepper to taste

Place onion and garlic into blender or food processor with salt and pepper and pulse a few times until the onions begin to let out thier juices.  Add herbs and pulse again until chopped. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until combined.  I also use this mixture as a veggie dip, it tastes kind of like an herb-y, cheese-y ranch dressing.

Modifications:

My plan for the future of this chili is to sub either all or part of the chicken breast meat for chicken thighs to boost the chicken flavor.  I also plan to use a bit of bacon, and to pan fry the chicken in the bacon fat before adding the veggies.