Vegetable Lasagna

Last night’s discovery of a good Stroganoff recipe reminded me I still had to try that Vegetable Lasagna clone I found. So that is dinner for tonight. Here is what I actually used:

* Exported from MasterCook *

Vegetable Lasagna

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter — melted
3 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup carrots — finely chopped
1/2 cup spinach — finely chopped
1/2 cup broccoli — finely chopped
1/2 cup onions — finely chopped
40 grams romano cheese
128 grams mozzarella cheese, part skim milk
2 cloves minced garlic
1 egg
13 1/4 ounces lasagna noodles — cooked
1 cup french fried onions

Wow! I just saw that I forgot to add the egg. I hope it still turns out. Not including that mistake, 1/8th of this is 420 calories, 1/6th would be 560. I tasted the sauce and it was even better than Stouffer’s! Here is the first layer:


Here is just before baking:


And here is my serving:


This tasted fine but was a bit dry. I think 4 layers is too many. Next time I will only use 3/4 of the noodles and make just 3 layers, and remember the egg. That should make this perfect.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

So here is how I used my share of the Honey Wheat Bread I made this morning (1/2 of one of the six rolls @ 190 calories). You regular readers know I love Havarti, but it is not my favorite cheese, that would be Wensleydale. Every year in the fall I start looking for Costco or Sprouts to start carrying it with anything from cranberries to mango. They have a best before date several months long so I usually buy 6 large wedges, plus what I give away. I usually have a small piece with a bowl of green grapes. It comes from a small town, Wensleydale, in the North of England. They have a factory that gives tours and samples in the gift shop. I love ANYTHING in this cheese! Nobody has any yet, except this gourmet grocer that I visited last night. They had only one small wedge of cranberry Wensleydale in stock, but I was so excited, I could finally post grilled cheese.


Wensleydale grilled cheese sandwiches are so rich, almost too rich. I think they will be perfect made with the Honey wheat bread. If I put 42 grams on it, that will be 170 calories added to the 190 from the bread plus the 1/2 tablespoon ICBINB (30 calories) that I use to  fry it. A side of arugula salad and a simple but very satisfying dinner is complete.

Cauliflower Cheese Soufflé


Soufflé is another food that struck me, as a child, as the pinnacle of refined cooking. It looks rather stunning on this recipe page and at 400 calories is a luxury worth having as is. However, some of us have saturated fat concerns and so I will substitute canola oil, low-fat milk, half-n-half, and low fat Swiss cheese for the full fat versions. This will reduced the calories to 280. I made 12 small ones because I only had four larger ramekins and this gives people an option to have a smaller portion if desired. I love that I can bake it ahead and then finish in about 20 minutes right before dinner. Here is how they look after the first baking:


Picture and review to come after dinner.


Isn’t it pretty? It was very delicately flavored, maybe too delicate, but then I used dried thyme instead of fresh. I liked it.

Cheese Tamales

I had gorgeous Beef Wellington from the freezer for lunch. But dinner might outdo it.  I used to get frozen Del Real Cheese Tamales from Costco, but they stopped selling them, I guess. They were a luxurious indulgence. I thought I would try to recreate them in lower-calorie form. I found this recipe and changed it a bit to get the recipe below:

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cheese Tamales

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
2 cups masa harina
15 1/4 ounces canned corn — drain, reserve juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup reserved juice
4 ounces green chiles
4 ounces cheddar cheese, lowfat — shredded
4 ounces fat-free cream cheese

Blitz the drained corn in a food processor. Combine all the dough ingredients and mix with your fingers until a dough forms. (Adding more liquid if needed.) Combine filling ingredients. Place 1/12th (60 grams) of the dough in the middle of a foot long sheet of parchment paper and press into a 3 X 5-inch rectangle. Spoon 1/12th (26 grams) filling down the middle. Use the paper to fold both sides over the filling. Roll tightly in the parchment paper and fold the ends over. Steam for about 40 minutes.


I saw a tamale maker on a food show use parchment paper rather than corn husks, so I did that. I got 12 200-calorie tamales. The dough was so amazing. These seriously are the best tamales I have ever eaten.




Eggs Benedict

So now you know why I made an English Muffin Loaf this morning. After the Alioli mess, you might have thought I would be shy of emulsions. But you would be wrong. I make mayonnaise with no problems ever. So, when I saw this recipe for Hollandaise Sauce, I whipped out the Magic Bullet high-speed blender, threw all the ingredients in and a few seconds later, I had sauce. I used 2 powdered eggs (with required water) instead of 3 egg yolks, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, no hot sauce, and 1/4 cup  canola oil instead of heated butter. It looks and tastes marvelous.


I love breakfast for dinner. I am using ham instead of Canadian bacon and am poaching the eggs in this toaster (I love this thing). I will post a photo after dinner.


Really delicious dinner. I would add more lemon juice to the Hollandaise Sauce, both to thin it and flavor it.

Eggplant Parmesan

I don’t know if I like all Eggplant Parmesan, I should get a good recipe and try to make it. But, I love Michael Angelo Frozen Eggplant Parmesan. We used to get it at Costco, but they stopped carrying it. It is available at lots of grocery stores, but not all carry the 44-ounce family size, which is what we have for dinner tonight. I thought of making this one, but today will be a difficult day for cooking. Michael Angelo’s has 320 calories per  serving (5 total), 4 grams of fiber, 6 grams saturated fat, 620 mg sodium. Vitamin C 25% (rdi), A 20% and calcium 30% are pretty good though. I love it because it tastes luxurious and is very satisfying. Here is what my serving looks like:


If anyone has a clone for this, I would love to have it.


Walnut Mushroom Casserole

Tonight’s meal is not my favorite, in fact I don’t know if I even tasted it, but Someone has fond memories of it. There used to be a restaurant right next to our university called The Good Earth. That is where I tasted the tea I recommended a while back. Most of the Good Earth restaurants are gone. I have tried to find a recipe for this dish in vegetarian cookbooks but never did. The kind writer here succeeded for me. I have substituted low-sodium soy sauce,  low-fat sour cream and cheeses, Marsala replaced the sherry and I used portobella mushrooms instead of button. I have been thinking of boosting our vegetable intake and the nutritional values are a bit impressive. So, I hope I agree with Someone’s taste and this can take a regular place in our menu.


This is one eighth of the batch. It looks a bit messy, but kind of delicious. I tasted a bit of the scraps from the pan and I think I am going to love it. I may revise this with my full opinion after dinner tonight.

Okay, Someone loved it. I think it is a keeper. The walnuts and water chestnuts add such a nice crunch and the portobellas were a good choice as was the Marsala.


Ravioli di Portobello

Here is another favorite meal at Olive Garden. I found this recipe and it seems to be passed around so that every recipe you find is the same. That would be okay, I guess, but I found the recipe crazy. First, who puts baking powder in pasta dough? Second, I actually made it and could have used only half of the filling, except that I threw the dough away and used my Verinica dough instead (2 cups flour, 2 eggs whites, 1/4 teaspoon salt, enough water to form a soft dough). That worked and produced 36 rather good-sized ravioli. I divided them among seven storage boxes. For the sauce, I didn’t have smoked Gouda but did have 8 ounces of Muenster that wasn’t gonna last much longer. Also, no sun dried tomatoes, tomato paste will have to do. And just because I like it, I added 1/4 cup Marsala. I guess Olive Garden serves these swimming in cheese sauce, but 2/3 of the recipe would have been just fine. Whether or not it is a good clone, it does taste good and dinner will be very appreciated by at least two of us. (We used to order this and split it every time we went to Olive Garden.)


Indian Fry Bread

As a teenager, my favorite mall food was this calorie bomb. You could get it with beans and cheese, honey, or cherry pie filling! I asked how they made the dough and was told they used Rhodes frozen bread dough. I had some of that in the freezer and took it out last night to thaw. The bread is rolled thin and deep fried before being topped. Deep frying uses a lot of oil, and since I heard that transfats are produced when oil is reheated, that is a lot of waste! I shallow fried these in a frying pan on the stove.

Here is what we used:

* Exported from MasterCook *

Indian Fry Bread

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
455 grams bread dough
65 grams canola oil
9 ounces cheddar cheese, lowfat
15 ounces fat-free refried beans
4 ounces green chiles

I put 224 grams of oil in the pan and ended up using only 65 grams. So, 1/2 cup oil would have been fine. Look at the picture below to see what the pickiest eater I know did with her portion! There is nothing under that cheese! She grabbed this for lunch before she headed home. I will add a picture of mine after dinner. We got 9 portions.


We will reheat the fried bread in the oven and top with heated refried beans, cheese, green chilies, chopped lettuce and tomatoes. Some people will probably top with sour cream and perhaps some salsa. These are also called Navajo Tacos, but these are so small in comparison, perhaps Navajo tostadas.


There is my fry bread. For dessert, we had 1/2 fried bread with 1 tablespoon Nutella on it. This whole dinner was so delicious and less than 500 calories! (I can’t even believe that.)


Many years ago a food show was exploring indulgent foods and I got my introduction to this Quebec phenomenon. Several years later, we were at a food court in a mall and a hot dog stand was selling it. The last time I tried it was from a food truck. (I think food trucks are so great. Not necessarily the food they serve but that they exists and park together and form a traveling food court. They are reminiscent of a county fair. Portland, Oregon has the best I’ve seen!) In preparing this dinner, I considered frying the fries twice like they do in Belgium. They really are the best! But I have to make compromises if I am going to fit into acceptable diet proportions. So, baked fries it is. The cheese curds are the white cheddar ones they sell at Costco. The gravy will be very inauthentically from a beef gravy mix, but I will throw in the last of the Burgundy. The exact ingredients are as follows:


840 grams frozen French fries
140 grams cheese curds
1 pkg beef gravy mix
1/4 cup Burgundy

Allow curds to warm to room temperature. Bake fries according to package directions. Meanwhile prepare gravy packet and add Burgundy. Place fries in 5 bowls, top with 1 ounce of cheese each. Divide the gravy over the bowls and serve.


The fries I bought have half a serving extra, so I may bake the whole bag and just divide them evenly. I am waiting to prepare the meal because I have read that temperature is critical. We will also be having broccoli slaw with the dressing of choice. the dinner will be under 500 calories. The pickiest eater I know informed me that she loves Poutine, so yay! I will post the picture tonight.

Stouffer’s Vegetable Lasagna

I am grabbing this from the freezer. We were lazy one day and cooked up this family-sized feast. It is filling for the calories and satisfied everyone. I froze the leftovers and want to get it out of the freezer. But while I was searching for the nutritional info I came across this copycat recipe! I think I will try it soon. This serving is under 400 calories. So after lunch I tried a new Dreyer’s Slow Churn Ice Cream flavor, Mississippi Mud Pie. It was nice and creamy and potently chocolate, but I still like my Double Fudge Brownie the best.


Last night I was trying to determine if I am alone in my love for Kirkland Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Bars and my dislike for the Chocolate Brownie Bars that are packed with them. It seems most people share my preference but are ok with the others. Then I came upon the solution to my stockpile of 40 Brownie Bars! (Yes, I actually ate the Chocolate Chip Bars and left the Brownie Bars 4 times!) In the comments on this post someone suggests cutting the bars into pieces and baking them in a 350 degree F oven for 10-12 minutes.


They puff up into actual cookies! And while they are much better than the Tootsie-Roll-like-textured raw bars, I still want to go buy another box so I can have my Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough!

Chile Relleno Omelet

There is a restaurant in Chino, California called Mi Ranchito. All the food is great, but the only thing I ever order is their Chile Relleno Burrito. I won’t even try to describe how good it is. I’ll bet it is 1000 calories! So, I won’t be making THAT. Instead I am going to try to satisfy my craving for THAT with a lower calorie substitute. Pulling from my childhood memory, the thing that has a similar taste to a Chile Relleno, is a Puffy Omelet. So this will be a marriage of those two recipes.

Instead of fresh chiles, I opted for canned whole chiles. I stuffed them with grated 2% milk fat colby jack cheese. The omelet was prepared as the recipe directs (except for using canola oil in place of butter) up to the point where it is baked. I placed a stuffed chile onto one side of the omelet and covered the frying pan. I let it cook over medium heat until the top was dry. I then flipped the bare side over the chile.


Ok, that was all written yesterday. The reason we didn’t have this last night was…Apple Pie. But I knew Someone would be so disappointed if I didn’t make the Rellenos so I made one. I asked what to serve for dinner tonight when the rest of us have Rellenos. “Rellenos again!” was the enthusiastic answer. I believe we have a hit. Also, I had bottled picante sauce, but apparently it is too good plain. I think I might try a little Herdez Guacamole Salsa on mine.


The last omelet was quite large and I had two rather small chiles left so I thought, refried beans aren’t many calories and neither are those carb balance tortillas. So, I split the last omelet with the two chiles in half and put about 1/6th of a can of fat-free refried beans on each of two tortillas and wrapped them. And now Someone gets a bit of a change from last night and I get my precious Relleno Burrito!

I ate this with about 1 tablespoon of sour cream and that guacamole salsa on it and I have to say it turned out better than I had even hoped it would. This is a new favorite.


Cheese Enchilada Stack

I never use a recipe to make cheese enchiladas, just roll cheese and onions into softened corn tortillas, cover with canned enchilada sauce and bake. This dish is made even easier by eliminating the dunking tortillas in hot oil and rolling them. I don’t know if it will taste as good but I thought I’d give it a go. Also, I decided to try making enchilada sauce. I blended a can of diced tomatoes until smooth, added my usual spices and simmered it for 30 minutes. Here is the exact recipe:


* Exported from MasterCook *

Cheese Enchilada Stack

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
400 grams diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
10 corn tortillas
180 grams onions — chopped
*112 grams cheddar cheese, lowfat — (cheddar jack) shredded
28 grams black olives — sliced

Blend tomatoes until smooth. Pour into saucepan and add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cayenne. Bring to a boil over medium heat. reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spread some of the sauce on the bottom of a 7 X 11-inch pan. Place a tortilla at each end and 1/4 of a tortilla on each side to fill the gaps. spread a small amount of the sauce over the tortilla and sprinkle with 1/4 of the onions. Top with 1/4 of the cheese. Repeat 3 more times. Dot olive slices over the top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings at about 250 calories.


To finish out the meal, we have a large spoonful of refried beans.

*If you aren’t worried about your saturated fat intake, double the cheese and you’ll find this meal indulgent but still under 500 calories. Also, we salt at the table, but you might wish to add some to the sauce. I would use tomato sauce instead of tomatoes next time.


And a bonus recipe tonight, my favorite chocolate mousse recipe. It is from Richard Simmons’ book Sweetie Pie but is also here. I skipped the crust this time and put it in small bowls. Also, my evaporated skim milk had expired so I just used skim milk. For the chocolate, I used 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate Lindt, and of course I used Splenda. I made 12 servings at just 140 calories and huge flavor.

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