Valentine’s Day White Chocolate Lovers: White Chocolate Dried Cherry Pistachio Bark

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This three ingredient recipe was one I made for Christmas, but since there are so many white chocolate fans, I thought I would feature it again for Valentine’s Day. It’s so easy, quick and delicious. It also can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. I used Nestle semisweet morsels, and it worked great! Happy Valentine’s Day! Enjoy!

 

Dried Cherry and Pistachio Bark

Feel free to double or triple this recipe.

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 1 minute

Yield: 11/2 pound

Ingredients

1 (12-ounce) package white chocolate morsels or any white chocolate

1 cup pistachio nuts, shells removed and toasted

1 cup dried cherries or cranberries

Preparation

1. Place white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, covered with wax paper on HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until melted, stirring once. Add pistachios and cherries, stirring well. Spread on large baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

2. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Break bark into pieces. Store in a tightly sealed container in refrigerator up to 1 month. Pack in decorative boxes or tins lined with wax tissue paper or colored cellophane for gift giving.

Main-Dish Salad: Shrimp Iceberg Wedge Salad

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Iceberg wedge salads are so fresh, delicious and best of all, simple. This one is a low-fat main-dish salad topped with shrimp and turkey bacon. I developed a low-fat blue cheese dressing to go with it, but if you’re short on time, use a bottled blue cheese or even vinaigrette dressing instead. This recipe is so simple: 21 minutes and dinner’s on the table.

 

Shrimp Iceberg Wedge

If you’re short on time, cook turkey bacon in microwave on HIGH 21/2 to 3 minutes or until crispy.

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 6 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon bottled hot sauce

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

2 to 3 tablespoons crumbled Blue cheese

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 large head iceberg lettuce, cut into 6 wedges, with core attached

2 slices turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled into pieces

1 cup chopped tomato

1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion

Pita wedges (optional)

Preparation

1. Combine mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, hot sauce and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in  a small bowl. Add blue cheese, stirring until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

2. Preheat grill saute pan or grill pan to medium-high heat.

3. Drizzle shrimp with remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Place shrimp on grill rack or grill pan coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until shrimp are done.

4. Arrange lettuce wedges on serving plates. Top with bacon, tomato, onion and shrimp. Spoon dressing evenly over each wedge.

Light and Simple Seared Scallops with Mint Pesto

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So many friends tell me that they are intimidated to cook scallops. Really, they are so incredibly easy! They cook in no time at all in a saute pan or on the grill, and really, the only thing you need is some kosher salt, black or red pepper and a touch of olive oil. I love making scallops because they are so simple, so delicious, yet almost elegant for a weeknight supper. They are fabulous mixed with pasta, in a salad and especially just on their own. We eat them often at my house, and even my 8-year-old, Zachary, is a huge fan! The Mint Pesto is so versatile and can also be served with fish, steak, chicken or pork.


Seared Scallops with Fresh Mint Pesto 

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 6 minutes

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

2/3 cup fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves

3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup almonds, toasted

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided

4 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

2 teaspoons olive oil

11/2 pounds large sea scallops

Cooking spray

Watercress, mixed greens (optional)

Preparation

1. Process mint, parsley, garlic, almonds, Parmesan, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, lemon zest, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and olive oil in a container of a food processor until smooth. Remove and set aside.

2. Drizzle scallops with remaining lemon juice and season with remaining kosher salt and pepper.

3. Heat a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add scallops and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until done. Top scallops with Mint Pesto and serve over watercress or mixed greens, if desired.

Super Bowl Party Appetizers: Low-Fat Basil Dip

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For a Super Bowl Party, how about this light, fresh, healthy dip made with fresh basil, lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic. I posted this on the blog a while back, but since I featured it on television this weekend on WBRC Fox 6 News, I thought I would offer it again. Serve it with fresh vegetables for a pretty presentation, and you can feel great about digging in.

 

Also, if you want to watch the video from television in Birmingham yesterday click http://www.myfoxal.com/myfox/pages/InsideFox/Detail?contentId=8332912&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=5.2.1


Fresh Basil Dip  

This dip is also great served alongside cooked salmon, shrimp or scallops.

Prep: 15 minutes

Yield about 1 1/2 cups 

Ingredients

1 clove garlic 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup light mayonnaise 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 

1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Fresh Vegetables, crackers

Preparation

1. In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic and next 7 ingredients: process until smooth. 

2. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Serve with fresh vegetables and/or crackers.

Light and Delicious Spiced Nuts for Super Bowl Sunday

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I had so much fun on “Talk of the Town” yesterday in Nashville. I thank my Nashville friends, Lisa and Rob, News Channel 5 and all of the Nashville subscribers and facebook fans for tuning in to watch me. One of the recipes I shared was this Spiced Nuts mix which I posted before Thanksgiving. It was very popular and is perfect for Super Bowl Sunday. It’s a lower-fat nut recipe and is ideal for a Super Bowl Party, holidays, or you can enjoy them as a snack or also tossed in a salad. Feel free to use any type of nuts that you want. These are worth every bite, and there’s no oil or butter in the recipe.

 

Spiced Almonds and Pecans 

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 25 minutes

Yield: 41/2 cups

Ingredients

2 (6-ounce) packages pecan halves

1  (6 ounce) can whole natural almonds

1/3  cup  packed brown sugar

11/2  teaspoons  ground cinnamon

1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin

2  large egg whites, lightly beaten

Cooking spray

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. Combine pecans, almonds and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in egg whites. Spread mixture evenly onto a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 10 minutes. Stir mixture; bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until crisp. Transfer foil to a wire rack; cool almond mixture. Break almond mixture into small pieces.

Note: Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to one week.

Low-Fat, Low-Calorie Beef and Cheese Manicotti

Low-fat, low-calorie manicotti? Is that possible? With only 325 calories and 8.5 grams of fat, I can say, yes, that is possible. This combination of lean ground beef, fat-free ricotta, egg white and fresh herbs creates a delicious and easy manicotti recipe. I developed this recipe for Laura’s Lean Beef Company a few years ago, and it has been a family staple for a few years. Feel free to use ground turkey or pork instead of beef if you choose. Also, you can prepare it a day ahead and bake it the next day.

 

Beef and Cheese Manicotti

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 35 minutes

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

1 (8-ounce) package manicotti

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (15-ounce) container fat-free ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1 egg white

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce

Preparation

1. Cook manicotti according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Brown ground beef, onion and garlic 5 minutes or until meat is browned; drain and let cool slightly.

3. Combine ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and next 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the meat mixture and set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spoon 1/2 cup marinara sauce in a lightly greased 13-x 9-inch baking dish. Fill manicotti shells with the meat mixture and arrange in a single layer in prepared dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until sauce bubbles and is heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Rigatoni to the Table in Under 20 Minutes

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Who doesn’t like pasta? My family loves it, but I don’t make it very often, especially when I’m trying to be good and eat moderate amounts of carbs at night. But, when the weather is as cold as it is (for so many of us), there’s really nothing better. This recipe is so wonderful for so many reasons. It’s quick, it’s a one-dish meal, it has great flavor and it’s really not too bad if you’re watching your weight. Not to mention, it’s 8 ingredients and can be prepared in under 20 minutes. What else can I say?

 

Quick and Easy Skillet Rigatoni

Prep: 4 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

8 ounces uncooked rigatoni

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 pound lean ground round

1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 cup dry white wine or low-sodium chicken or beef broth

2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce  with garlic, basil and oregano (I used Hunts)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation

1. Cook rigatoni according to package directions.

2. While pasta cooks, cook onion, ground round and mushrooms in a large lightly greased skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 6 minutes or until beef is no longer pink. Add wine; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until liquid is evaporated. Stir in pasta, tomato sauce, basil and red pepper flakes, if desired; cover and simmer 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese.

Chicken and Broccoli Sourdough Cobbler

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When I told a friend of mine about this recipe, she said, “Chicken Cobbler? Don’t you mean, chicken casserole?” I said, “No, this recipe is much cooler than that!” First, the topping is made with crisp sourdough croutons that are laced with Parmesan cheese and add the perfect toasty crunch. Second it’s filled with broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes and a short-cut sauce, low-fat alfredo. Using chopped rotisserie chicken works great in this recipe (you can also use leftover turkey). Last, purchase bagged broccoli flowerets from the grocery produce section to make your life even easier, and there’s no need to pre-cook them. Try it and let me know what you think and whether it’s deserving of it’s special name.


Chicken and Broccoli Cobbler

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

3 cups cubed sourdough bread

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 cups broccoli flowerets

3 cups chopped, cooked chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)

1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 (10-ounce) container light refrigerated Alfredo sauce

1/2 cup light sour cream

Preparation

1. Drizzle butter over bread cubes in a large bowl; sprinkle with cheese, tossing gently.

2. Combine broccoli and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Spoon filling into lightly greased 2-quart rectangle or oval baking dishes or individual baking dishes; top with bread cubes.

3. Bake uncovered, at 400F for 25 to 30 minute (20 to 25 for individual cobblers) or until bubbly and top is toasted. (Cover, if it starts to brown too fast.)

Healthy and Quick Chicken-Rice Soup

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After I posted my chowder recipe yesterday, my friend, Kevin, (who is a well known physical therapist for professional athletes) asked me for a recipe for Chicken and Rice Soup without cream. Kevin eats healthier than most people I know. He eats salmon at least three times a week and has an incredible palate for food. So, when I decided to develop this Chicken and Rice Soup recipe, I really had to think it out carefully with the healthiest ingredients. This soup is filled with fresh vegetables, fresh herbs, low-fat and low-sodium chicken broth, lean chicken, and a mixture of brown, wild and white rice. It takes less than 45 minutes to prepare, and it’s the ultimate way to feed the soul whether you’re under the weather or not.

 

Healthy Chicken Rice Soup

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

11/2 cups diced carrots

11/2 cups diced celery

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced leeks

1 tablespoon olive oil

Vegetable cooking spray

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

8 cups organic low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

1 cup rice blend mix of white, brown and wild rice, uncooked

21/2 cups cooked chopped chicken (I used white meat only from rotisserie chicken)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Preparation

1. Saute first 4 ingredients in a hot oil in a large lightly greased Dutch oven over medium-high heat 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add garlic, mushrooms and pepper; saute 1 more minute. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil. Add rice, stirring well. Cover, reduce heat and cook 15 to 20 minutes. Add chicken and cook 5 to 10 minutes more or until heated through. Stir in parsley and thyme before serving.

Christmas, December 25th, Much Thanks!

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! December 25th is a very special day in many ways for everyone, but for me, it is also 2 months for the launch of my food blog, https://www.ingredientsinc.net. I am amazed that over 14,000 people have looked at my food blog in just 2 short months. It has also led me to new friends, new clients, television appearances and so much more. Thank you to all of those who have supported me, subscribed, given me wonderful feedback, given me advice, offered ideas, suggestions and questions (Natalie, Meredith, Jamie, Julie, Carlie, Bradley, Charles, Eric, Amy S., Lisa G., Jennifer B., Steven, Kathy, Kelly, Maria, Janet, Jeff, Doug, Lisa E., Patti, Susan, Heidi, Ruth and Andrew, Amy H., Amy K., Penny, Danny and Paige L., Stuart and Betsy M., Danny and Mur F, Kim, Bob, Melissa, Vicki, Katia, and if I forgot one, forgive me). I also thank those of you who have taken the time to make comments, and the food websites, such as http://www.slashfood.com and http://www.thekitchn.com, who have written about me and my recipes in such a positive way. Lastly, I thank my family and close friends for bearing with me (you know who you are), allowing me to spend and focus so much of my time and energy to create wonderful content that people seem to love. Happy Holidays again! Best, Alison


P.S. This is a photo taken of my daughter, Leigh and me over Thanksgiving.