Category Archives: Cooking Light Magazine

Beer Braised Chicken Thighs

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Chicken braised in wine is called coq au vin. The dish is a class and a favorite in my house. But what about switching out the wine for beer? I say why yes and it especially makes sense here in Belgium where your choices of delicious beer is virtually unlimited. So when I came across this recipe from Cooking Light I knew I had to try it.

This recipe cooks up quickly yet you have all of the rich flavors you would expect in a dish that cooks for a longer period of time. I’ve adapted it by adding additional spices and switching out porter beer for a spicy and flavorful Belgian winter brew. Choose your favorite beer or experiment until you find one that you like. As is the case with cooking with wine, if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.

BEER BRAISED CHICKEN THIGHS
3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
4  bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved
3/4 cup dark porter beer, or other beer of your choice
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • Combine 3 tablespoons of flour, the thyme and the paprika in a large zip topped plastic bag.
  • Sprinkle half of the salt over the chicken then add the chicken to the bag, ensuring that it is coated on all sides.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil to pan and swirl to coat.
  • Remove the chicken from flour mixture, discarding the remaining flour mixture.
  • Add the chicken to pan and cook for 4 minutes or until browned.
  • Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from pan. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until mushrooms are browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in the remaining flour , the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, the beer, stock, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil; cook 2 minutes.
  • Return chicken to pan. Reduce heat and cook, partially covered, 15 minutes or until chicken is done.
  • Sprinkle with parsley.
  • Serve with polenta, noodles or rice.

Serves 4

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Broccoli Macaroni & Cheese

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Sometimes you just don’t have the energy to make baked macaroni and cheese and they orange version from the box just won’t do.  My solution is this macaroni and cheese recipe adapted from Cooking Light Magazine  is fast and easy and because the vegetable in mixed right in, creates a true one pot dinner.  I love the combination of bacon paired with cheddar cheese but gouda, Swiss or a combination of all three are also good.

BROCCOLI MACARONI & CHEESE

8 ounces small uncooked pasta

2 cups chopped broccoli florets

1 1/2 cups low-fat milk

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 slices chopped bacon

1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter

2 cups shredded cheddar, gouda, or Swiss cheese

  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions, omitting the salt and fat.  Add the broccoli during the last minute of cooking.  Drain.
  • Combine the milk, flour, thyme, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and salt in a medium sized bowl, whisking until smooth.
  • Heat a large skillet set over medium-high heat.  Add the bacon and cook 4 minutes or until crisp.
  • Add the butter to the pan and swirl until the butter melts.
  • Add the milk mixture to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently and cooking for 1 minute.
  • Stir in the cheese then add the pasta, stirring to coat.

Serves 4

Fried Chickpeas & Arugula with Lime Tzatziki

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion.  If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light Magazine.  It truly is fast and has enough flavors and protein that even the biggest meat eaters will forget that they don’t have a steak on their plates.  The original recipe calls for stuffing all of the ingredients into pitas.  I am unable to find pitas in the local stores but Greek-style flat breads are readily available so I serve this dish as a deconstructed sandwich instead.  While I normally prefer to use dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas) in my recipes, preparing them takes time and planning since they need to soak overnight.  Sometimes fast and last-minute is what is on the menu so when that is the case, canned chickpeas work in a pinch.

FRIED CHICKPEAS & ARUGULA WITH LIME TZATZIKI

1 cup Greek yogurt (I use Albanian style Kos)

3 tablespoons chopped mint

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon salt, divided

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and shredded

6 whole-wheat pitas (or flatbread or a bread of your choice)

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

3 teaspoons ground cumin

3 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 cups loosely packed arugula

4 tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Combine yogurt, mint, lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, garlic, and cucumber in a small bowl.
  • Wrap pitas in foil and bake for 10 minutes or until warm.
  • Place the chickpeas in a single layer on a paper towel.  Cover with additional paper towels and pat dry.
  • Place a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to pan; swirl to coat.
  • Add the chickpeas to the pan; saute for 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crispy, stirring frequently.
  • Remove the chickpeas from the pan using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.
  • Combine the remaining salt, chickpeas, cumin, paprika, and red pepper in a medium bowl; toss well to coat.
  • Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk.  Add the arugula and toss gently to coat.
  • Divide the arugula and chickpeas evenly among the plates.  Top with two tomato slices and the yogurt sauce and serve with a warmed pita.

Serves 6

Mini Greek- Style Meat Loaves

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My family loves meatloaf.  In order to make it as fresh and health as possible, I choose to grind my own meat.  Using my trusty Kitchen Aid stand mixer and meat grinding attachment, I have complete control of what is (or isn’t) in my ground meat.  By grinding my own, I can limit the amount of fat that goes into the mixture. Because fat does add flavor, I like to choose a high quality meat with plenty of marbling.

I have adapted this recipe from one found in Cooking Light magazine.  I love the fact that these meatloaves are cooked in muffin tins. Not only does their small size expedite the cooking time making this an easy weeknight dish, but they are also more appealing to small diners.  I find Cooking Light recipes to be easy and generally tasty but often a bit bland. To counter this I’ve increased the amount of herbs and spices. The results are meatloaves that we all enjoyed.

MINI GREEK-STYLE MEAT LOAVES

10 ounces ground sirloin

5 ounces ground lamb

1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs

1/3 cup grated red onion

4 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint, divided

1/2 Teaspoon salt, divided

1/2 Teaspoon allspice

1/2 Teaspoon cumin

1/2 Teaspoon crushed red pepper

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 large egg, slightly beaten

Cooking spray

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Juice from 1 lemon

1 Tablespoon olive oil

  • Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Coat 8 muffin cups with cooking spray.  Set aside.
  • Combine the ground sirloin, lamb, breadcrumbs, and red onion in a large bowl.  Stir in half of the mint, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, the allspice, cumin, crushed red pepper, minced garlic, and egg.
  • Press the meat mixture into the prepared muffin cups.  
  • Bake for 7 minutes.  Turn the broiler to high and broil for an additional 3 minutes.  
  • Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, and remaining mint in a small bowl.  Whisk to combine and serve over meatloaves.

Serves 4

Rosemary & Red Wine Braised Chicken

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This recipe courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine reminds me of a chicken cacciatore without the long cooking time required of the traditional dish.   Cacciatore is a winter dish and it is spring so meals need to be lighter.  Because I love deep and flavorful dishes I’ve increased the amount of garlic and rosemary called for in the recipe and added an extra bay leaf.  The results are a lighter yet still flavorful chicken dish that when served with garlic mashed red skin potatoes (again, more flavor) and peas makes for a complete meal.  You can easily double the recipe to accommodate a larger family or triple it for a crowd.  
Rosemary & Red Wine Braised Chicken
Serves 2

2 bone-in chicken drumsticks 

2 bone-in chicken thighs

1 Teaspoon, divided

1 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided 

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup all-purpose flour 

1/2 cup chopped shallots

2 Tablespoons chopped garlic

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 cup Chianti or other rich red wine

1 cup unsalted chicken stock 

1 Teaspoon sugar 

1 (14.5-ounce) can unsalted whole tomatoes, crushed and undrained

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • Make 1 (1/2-inch-deep) cut in each chicken piece; sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  • Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.
  • Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in flour. Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan.
  • Add shallots, garlic, and rosemary to pan; cook 2 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
  • Add wine to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
  • Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, chicken stock, sugar, tomatoes, and bay leaf.
  • Bring to a boil and boil for several minutes until the amount of liquid is reduced.
  • Return chicken to pan. Reduce heat to medium; cook, partially covered, 15 minutes or until chicken is done, turning once.
  • Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Chocolate Chip Irish Cream Pound Cake

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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day here is an easy cake courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine that combines chocolate with Irish Cream liqueur.  This cake is moist and dense and the Irish Cream adds a surprising hint of flavor for those who aren’t expecting it.  The cake is easy to make and I’ve served it as a dessert to end a formal dinner, with a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream on the side, but it is just as good with a cup of coffee for an afternoon snack or as a decadent breakfast treat.
People unfamiliar with Cooking Light might think it is odd that a healthy cooking magazine would include dessert recipes.  Filled with recipes ranging from soups and salads to entrees and yes desserts, this magazine proves that desserts don’t have to be off-limits when eating healthy and with a few simple tweaks of ingredients, can be a part of a healthy diet.  If you haven’t checked out the magazine, do so either in print or on-line.  Every issue is filled with tasty healthier recipes, many of which have become mainstays in my own kitchen.
CHOCOLATE CHIP IRISH CREAM POUND CAKE

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate mini chips

1 teaspoon cake flour

2 3/4 cups cake flour (about 11 ounces)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup fat-free cream cheese, softened

10 tablespoon butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur

Baking spray with flour

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Combine chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon flour in a small bowl; toss.
  • Lightly spoon 2 3/4 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Place cream cheese and butter in a bowl; beat with a mixer at high-speed to blend. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla; beat until blended.
  • Add eggs, 1 at a time; beat well after each addition. Beat on high-speed 1 minute.
  • With mixer on low, add flour mixture and liqueur alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Pour batter into a 12-cup Bundt pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 325° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Sift powdered sugar over cake.
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