Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Olive Garden serves many dishes I like but this one is a favorite. Todd Wilbur cloned it and you can get the recipe in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 (did I say I had all his books? Well, I do.) But you can buy it for $.79 here. And I am sure there are other clones on the internet. I used my old standard pizza dough recipe to make bread sticks and this soup. I made a fairly bad mistake in adding 1/2 pound of mushrooms but not decreasing the water and the soup is not as thick as I wanted. I guess I could add more cornstarch…I also used store bought gnocchi as I had some in the pantry. Perhaps the homemade ones would have thickened the soup more. Also, I cooked 1 pound of chicken breast meat by my normal method.


The corn starch worked and everyone thought it was delicious and filling!






I was looking through blogs this morning and came across this recipe. I was planning to finish that Coronation Chicken for lunch, maybe in mushroom cups or on a baked potato. But the lure of Quiche took over. I looked over Nancy’s fillings and thought, “bacon OR tomato? Why not both?” And was this recipe not screaming out for arugula? I heard it anyway. So here is my list of ingredients:

42 grams cooked bacon
56 grams chopped onion
100 grams cherry tomatoes — quartered
200 grams mushrooms (chopped and microwaved for 2 minutes)
15 grams arugula — chopped
112 grams 2% Cheddar Jack — shredded
3 large eggs
3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon flour

Quiche Fixins.jpg

I found this recipe for a flakey oil pie crust and decided to give it a try. A sixth of this pie is just about 300 calories. The smell while it cooked made me so hungry, I had to grab a handful of green grapes.


That was very satisfying. The crust had a nice crunch, though it could have used a touch more salt.

Italian Chicken

Here is another recipe from my in-laws. I don’t know where they got it but it must have been the same place this page got it because it is almost identical. I made half the recipe on that page, except I used more Muenster Cheese and used Marsala and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter). It smells so wonderful and is one of the richest, tastiest dishes ever. Here it is after coming out of the oven:


I cooked 170 grams of dry linguini and divided everything into 6 portions. I will serve this with steamed vegetables and the meal is about 500 calories. This is one of those dishes that makes you forget you are dieting!

Italian Chicken.jpg


Three Lovely Drinks

I tried to share the Coronation Chicken I made yesterday but had no takers so I must have it again for lunch, since I don’t think it would freeze well. But I can still give you a mid-day recipe or three. It really helps to have some nice low-calorie drinks (though give me a diet root beer and I am happy!)

When I was a newlywed, I found Pillsbury Family Cookbook in the library and borrowed it. It was full of so many good recipes I bought a copy. A recipe that caught my eye was an almond, vanilla and lemon flavored ice tea which you can see here. Since I have been urged to try Stevia, that is the sweetener I used today.

Another great iced tea is Good Earth original sweet & spicy herbal tea. The ingredients are: Rooibos, chicory root, natural flavor, rosehip, cinnamon, lemongrass, peppermint, chamomile, ginger root, anise seed, orange oil and orange peel. It has virtually no calories but tastes sweet! I drink this ALOT! One bag makes 3-4 cups for me, otherwise it is too strong! If you have a very sunny spot, fill a glass jug with water and drape tea bags over the edge. Close the lid then let it sit in the sun for several hours.

The last drink was invented by the pickiest eater I know. She ordered a drink at a restaurant and was mistakenly given lemonade (which she hates). We had a large party and the waitress was too busy for us to flag down to rectify the mistake so Miss Picky opened some French Vanilla Creamer and poured it into the lemonade. She passed it around the table and it was unanimously declared delicious. However, I don’t want the fat or sugar of creamer so I came up with this low-calorie approximation:

* Exported from MasterCook *

Vanilla Lemonade

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup water
1/8 cup Splenda
1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla (I actually used McCormick Vanilla Butter & Nut flavoring)
1 tablespoon Torani Sugar-free Caramel Syrup

Combine all ingredients and stir well. (It will look curdled but will blend.)  A spoonful of Dreyer’s slow-churn vanilla bean ice cream might work too!



Apple, Sausage, Sweet Potato Medley

I remember that the first mention of this dish elicited a response similar to “Ew, sweet meat?” When I proposed making this yesterday, this very same someone said, “Oh, that’s a good one.”  It is from my Favorite Brand Name Recipe Cookbook (Read it on Internet Archive) and seems originally  to have been printed on a Thank You! brand apple pie filling can. You can have this in the oven in 5 minutes if you use brown-and-serve sausage patties, canned sweet potatoes and canned apple pie filling. But, I wanted to see how it tasted with homemade everything, not to mention the ability to reduce the calories. I have some very nice ground turkey and I thought I would try it in this recipe, I baked the sweet potatoes at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes, and I used this recipe for the apple pie filling. (I used canola oil instead of butter and Splenda.)

I used a 9 X 13-inch baking pan lined with foil. I sliced the sweet potatoes and arranged them in the baking pan (mine fit exactly.) Then I formed the meat into mini meatballs. (I got 30, but only used 24). Instead of using brown sugar and dotting with butter, I added 1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring and Torani Sugar-free Brown Sugar Cinnamon syrup to the apples and spooned the mixture evenly in the pan. I topped each meatball with a pecan half and popped it into a 350 degree F oven for an hour or so. I imagine this might work well in a crock-pot. The surprising part is that dividing this into 6 large servings resulted in about 400 calories! It is so warming and filling.


Just a note, I will use pork next time.

Coronation Chicken

Dinner is going to take a bit of time so I decided to go with a no-cook lunch. It is still one of my favorites. I found a quick and easy version here. I used canned chicken breast, avocado oil mayonnaise, peach preserves, 1/2 tsp curry powder and a small handful of golden raisins as the only difference from the recipe and put 1/3 of the mix in a whole wheat bolillo. Very yummy!



I love Stromboli! I have made it before but wasn’t crazy about the effort. And remember the Calzone fiasco? This time I used the same recipe, but only replaced 1 cup with whole wheat pastry flour. Then I used this recipe for inspiration, but used what I had on hand, salami, pepperoni, mozzarella, parmesan, ham, 2% fat cheddar, onion, bell peppers, olives, oregano and garlic powder. I meant to photo the rows before I rolled it up, but forgot. But it was very pretty. It baked at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. I cut it into 6 pieces.


The technique described in the recipe is quite a good one. I think my choices of filling made for the perfect blend of flavors, though I might have been a bit skimpy. I thinned a little store-bought marinara with wine and served it with the sandwiches for dipping, though I didn’t use it because I like mine plain. Everyone really enjoyed this meal.

Sloppy Joes

My mother never made Sloppy Joes. We had them at school and we had Manwiches, but my mother-in-law gave me the recipe for Sloppy Joes that I always use. The recipe here is quite similar, though we don’t add celery, use 1 cup ketchup and no tomato sauce or BBQ sauce, and we use prepared mustard instead of dry.
I cut some whole wheat bolillos in half and froze each with 1/8th of the Sloppy Joe filling. I am having it with more fresh vegetables from the party and found this recipe, which I made with just nonfat Greek yogurt and the seasonings.


At the bottom of this page, notice that I have a link to a table of contents in picture form to all my meals. Also, check out my progress from there…yeah me!

French Chicken Curry

Tonight is the best recipe I have. I cannot find it anywhere on the internet. I am forced to display it because I must share it with you. It is from The Dione Lucas Book of French Cooking .

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup olive oil
1 small white onion sliced
1 small carrot sliced
2 stalks celery sliced
2 medium green apples sliced, not peeled
3 tablespoons curry powder strong
4 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon beef bouillon
2 cups chicken stock
1 inch cinnamon stick
2 peppercorns
1 large ginger root
1 tablespoon shredded coconut meat
6 cardamom
1 tablespoon guava paste
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and apples. Stir well, and cook until nearly soft. Off the heat, mix in the curry powder and flour. Stir over low heat 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste and meat glaze and stir in the chicken stock. Stir over low heat until the sauce comes to a boil, then add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Simmer it 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.Remove the gingeroot, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf. Blend the sauce in an electric blender until it is very smooth.This made 12 servings.


The recipe tells how to cook the chicken and the rice but I just added diced cooked chicken, and served over saffron basmati rice. There are 12 condiments in the original recipe but tonight we topped it with bacon, hard-boiled egg, toasted almonds, golden raisins, coconut, dried cherries, dried pineapple and black currant spreadable fruit. Oh and we also had a microwaved papad (Pappadum) each. Someone made enjoyment noises all through dinner and it wasn’t me, but I was thinking them.


Manicotti Crepes

A book that I have had for many years is Crepe Cookery by Mabel Hoffman. One of our favorite recipes from this book are these rolled crepes, recipe found here. (Optional tomato sauce is not in the book.) Be sure to scroll down on that page to find the basic crepe batter or click here. Of course, I used ICBINB in place of butter, whole wheat pastry flour and skim milk.

I love making crepes, but if time is an issue, I sometimes use those Mission Carb Balance tortillas. This is rich and flavorful and filling, all the things I love in diet food! Oh and I only ate 2 instead of the three shown in the recipe, as well as some of the raw vegetables from yesterday’s lunch.



It is always smart to have good diet options when you eat out. Taco Bell makes a Steak Gordita Supreme that tends to be my go-to fast food choice. But now that I have a freezer full of options, I don’t plan to be eating out anytime soon. So, while I have some ideas about making my own gorditas, fajitas are a good substitute. Cut a sirloin into strips, stir-fry it in a little canola oil. Toss in some sliced onions and bell pepper. Add chili powder, garlic powder and cumin to taste. Serve it up in a nice flour tortilla, top with sour cream and guacamole and that is a tasty dinner!

I used low-fat sour cream and a recipe for Mantequilla de Pobre from HP Book’s Grilling and Barbequing, that I cannot find on the internet but found something close here (just leave out the pork, throw in a food processor and add Tabasco hot sauce to your liking.) I also used Mission brand Carb Balance tortillas. (They taste like flour tortillas but are full of fiber!)


So tasty!



Melting Pot-Style Meal

Fondue was a craze when I was a child. I recall hot oil in a pot into which we dunked meatballs. I was unimpressed. This continued years later when our PhD candidate finally finished the course and treated everyone to a Melting Pot dinning experience. I rate it:

Appetizer Course-Amazing, Delicious

Salad Course-Blah

Meat Course-Sad


So you see it was wasted on me to go to this fancy fondue chain. Just give me a good cheese fondue in which to dip bread and vegetables, then finish with a Creme Brulee Fondue with brownies and fruit dippers and it’s a celebration!


Since today is a special day, I went searching for Melting Pot clones to whip up for the celebration. Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue and Creme Brulee Fondue fit the bill! Now, I know this could really eat into my progress if I am not careful, so I need a beautiful vegetable tray and lots of fruit to limit my intake of mini pretzel bites and brownie chunks. (The brownies are homemade Great Day Cocoa Brownies from a Ghirardelli Cookbook using Splenda and half the amount of canola oil instead of butter.) We ended up just melting the white chocolate chips and adding about 1/2 cup Caramel Macchiato Creamer. It was thin enough to pour and didn’t need to stay hot, but was delicious. I want to try it again thinned with skim milk and sugar-free caramel syrup.


The plate on the right is what I ate, along with many of the veggies and 5 pretzel bites both dipped in Cheese Fondue and a lovely glass of Moscato d’Asti. We are all very happy!

UPDATE: I just came across some videos on YouTube of actual Melting Pot servers making these dishes!

Spinach Artichoke Fondue

Creme Brulee Fondue


Cheeseburger Calzone

There is a place near ASU called Cornish Pasty. Someone in our group always orders the Royale with Cheese, but I thought that a shortening crust would be too much, so to lighten it I decided to use pizza crust. I found this recipe, but then blew it by making it with whole wheat pastry flour. It just didn’t rise well. But the filling worked and I’ll try it again.  here is what I used to make 8 pies:

1 lb ground beef

75 grams diced dill pickle

100 grams quartered grape tomatoes

60 grams diced onion

4 slices American cheese

Divide the dough into eight pieces and roll into a circle. Place fillings in the center and fold the dough over. Roll the edge inward and press down firmly. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Serve with fat-free Thousand Island dressing for dipping.


I have found some 1/2-cup storage containers and have begun filling with just 64 grams of Dreyer’s Slow Churn Ice Cream. I feel that at 120 calories per serving I can have one after lunch and one after dinner.



Spaghetti with Brown Butter and Mizithra

I was a teenager when I first ate at an Old Spaghetti Factory. But a few years ago, I tried this dish and have been making it ever since. Boil some pasta, brown some butter, cook a little bacon, top with mizithra. How much easier can it get and be this delicious?

   Each serving had the following proportions:

70 g cooked whole wheat spaghetti

20 g Land O’ Lakes Butter/Canola Oil Blend

5 g microwaved bacon

14 g Mizithra Cheese


I boxed this up with some french-cut green beans and froze it. 2 to 3 minutes in the microwave to heat, being careful not to overheat. I have made it with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter as well. Makes it hard to believe I am dieting, which is the whole point.