RECIPES:
Kalamata-Balsamic Chicken With Feta Cheesy Shepherd's Pie Sage and Mint Lamb Loin Chops

Holiday Roast Turkey

 

Frosted Snowmen

 
White Onion Dip
A Fresh, Fast And Fabulous Festive Meal
(NAPSI)-Serving a healthful, home-cooked meal during the holiday season is easier than you might imagine.

In fact, cooking light and luscious meals is what the test kitchens at Cooking Light magazine specialize in. The kitchen crew has put together a cookbook, "Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast," with 160 mouthwatering menus that are not only great for you but taste great, too.

With short ingredient lists, straightforward procedures and fresh ingredients, the recipes and meals in this cookbook may transform your weeknight meals.

Favorites include roasted vegetable pizza, corn and bacon chowder, chocolate pretzel bark and this recipe for Kalamata-Balsamic Chicken with Feta.

Kalamata-Balsamic Chicken With Feta

Ingredients:
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 16 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
  • 3 tablespoons light balsamic vinaigrette
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons small basil leaves

Prep: 4 minutes
Cook: 14 minutes

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle chicken evenly with pepper.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray.
  3. Cook chicken 6 to 7 minutes on each side until done. Transfer chicken to a serving platter; keep warm.
  4. While chicken cooks, combine tomatoes, olives and vinaigrette in a medium bowl.
  5. Add tomato mixture to pan; cook one to two minutes or until tomatoes soften. Spoon over chicken. Top evenly with cheese and basil.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast, ¼ cup tomato mixture and ¾ tablespoons cheese).

For more information, visit www.oxmoorhouse.com.

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Some "Humble Pie" For Dinner

(NAPSI)-Shepherd's Pie, also known as Cottage Pie, is made with minced or ground meat and covered with a mashed potato crust. While the recipe's origins are not clear, it's presumed to hail from Britain or Ireland. Typically, the pie contained lamb meat (since that's what a shepherd would tend to). Over the years, the recipe has been changed in many ways, although one thing remains constant: This savory dish hits the spot on a brisk or chilly day.

Cheesy Shepherd's Pie is a practical way to use up leftover meat and potatoes. It also leaves some room for creativity, allowing you to customize with favorite vegetables and spices. Adding a creamy, nutty cheese like Jarlsberg to the filling and potato crust gives the dish an especially pleasing taste, fusing all the flavors together. This modest pie may quickly become a family favorite.

Cheesy Shepherd's Pie

Meat Mixture:
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup each chopped onion and green or red pepper
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire, or to taste
  • 2 cups cooked chopped or ground lamb or beef, with fat drained
  • 1 cup shredded Jarlsberg or Jarlsberg Lite cheese
  • 1 cup brown gravy (homemade or store bought)

Topping:

  • 1 cup shredded Jarlsberg or Jarlsberg Lite cheese
  • 2 cups fresh, instant or leftover mashed potatoes
  • ½ cup skimmed milk
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F°. In large nonstick skillet, sauté garlic over medium heat until golden. Add onion and pepper and sauté until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté a few minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in Worcestershire, meat, cheese and gravy. Spoon mixture into oval, round or square baking dish. Combine 4 ingredients for topping and spread this mixture on top (or you can pipe it around the edge of dish). Bake 20 minutes. Serves 4.

For more recipes, tips and entertaining ideas, visit www.norseland.com.

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Holiday Lamb Loin Chops

(NAPSI)-There's good news for holiday chefs: When the temperature drops, so too does the price of many premium cuts of meat, including steaks and chops.

Lamb loin chops, also known as lamb T-bones, are a great example. Typically a warm-weather grilling item, the chops become less expensive during colder months when demand for lamb shanks, along with other stew meats and roasts, tends to rise. But tasty loin chops can easily be panfried for a cozy and economical cold-weather meal.

Try this recipe for a savory lamb loin chop holiday dish that's sure to please.

Sage and Mint Lamb Loin Chops on Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:
  • 8 lamb loin chops
  • Olive oil, for cooking
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 8-10 mint leaves, torn
  • Mashed potatoes
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ cup buttermilk or milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Serves 4
Prep/cook:
30-40 minutes;
Rest: 15 minutes

Directions:

  1. Brush the chops lightly with olive oil. Press the sage, salt and pepper into the surface and allow to rest, covered, at room temperature for 15 minutes for flavors to infuse.
  2. To make the mashed potatoes, boil the potatoes in salted water until nearly cooked. Mash well and fold in enough buttermilk to give the desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  3. Heat a large nonstick pan or frying pan over medium heat and add enough oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Add the lamb and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until barely medium rare and still plump and springy when pressed. Drain excess fat from pan and add the wine, vinegar and mint. Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes, turning chops to allow flavors to infuse, until cooked as desired. The chops are most tender when kept medium rare or at an internal temperature of 130-135° F. Serve on the mashed potatoes with pan juices spooned over.

For more recipes made with lamb, visit the Web site www.superiorfarms.com.

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A Holiday Menu Where Savings Are Gravy
(NAPSI)-Holiday entertaining doesn't have to cost a fortune. In fact, with some frugal finesse, the traditional holiday feast can be prepared for $3 per person. Follow these entertaining, menu and recipe tips, and you'll be anything but Scrooge.
  •  Plan your menu and stick to your shopping list.
  • Save money by using produce that's in season, such as apples, squash, pumpkin and yams.
  • Avoid disposable dishes, cutlery and napkins. Save money and go green.
  • Think quality over quantity and downsize the number of side dishes.
  • Be prepared with recipes to make use of leftovers. Soup is a great option, and you can freeze it for later.
  • Potluck is cool again. And thrifty. If someone offers to bring something, say yes.
  • Shop at stores that offer the most value for your dollar. For example, Grocery Outlet (for store locations: www.groceryoutlet.com) purchases overstocks and closeouts directly from manufacturers. That means prices on quality merchandise that are often up to 50 percent cheaper than conventional grocery stores.

In fact, by shopping at a value-oriented store like Grocery Outlet, families can host a traditional holiday feast for just $3 per person including:

Holiday Roast Turkey

Ingredients:

  • $1.10 per serving
  • Serves 10-12
  • 1 fresh turkey (16 to 18 lbs), giblets removed, turkey brought to room temperature (no more than 2 hours)
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 T. dried parsley
  • 1 T. dried sage
  • 5 cups stuffing

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F, with rack in lower third.
  2. Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Place on a rack set in large roasting pan.
  3. Blend 4 T. butter with 2 tsp. salt and dried herbs; season with pepper. Loosen skin of turkey and spread mixture under skin all over, reaching as far back as possible.
  4. Rub skin of turkey with remaining 4 T. butter. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt; season with pepper. Loosely stuff body cavity with 4? cups stuffing, and next cavity with ? cup. Tie drumsticks together loosely with kitchen twine. Fold neck skin under body and secure with toothpicks. Tuck wing tips under wings.
  5. Roast turkey 30 minutes. Baste turkey, reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Continue to roast (basting every 20 minutes with pan juices) until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding bone) registers 180°F and stuffing registers 165°F, 3-3? hours. If skin darkens too quickly during roasting, tent with foil.
  6. Let turkey rest 30 minutes before carving. Leave juices in roasting pan to make gravy.

For the complete $3 holiday menu, recipes, shopping list and money-saving tips, visit www.groceryoutlet.com.

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Cook Up New Holiday Traditions

(NAPSI)-Here's food for thought: You can simplify holiday rituals in a way that saves time, involves the kids and still honors family traditions. For instance, Rice Krispies Treats have been a family favorite for more than 75 years and many families have their own special recipes. Now you can mix up a new holiday treat and create memorable moments by inviting the kids into the kitchen to give the famous recipe your family's own seasonal touch.

Barbara Beery, founder of kids' cooking school Batter Up Kids and cookbook author, shares an easy recipe. The main ingredients are two time-honored traditions that make for truly magical memories: cooking and sharing time together.

"Simple time spent with your children is precious and the kitchen offers the perfect setting for creating family traditions and sharing conversations," said Beery. "Cooking also helps boost kids' confidence. As they spend quality time with you, they're contributing something the whole family can enjoy."

Create special memories in the kitchen with your family this holiday season with festive Rice Krispies Treats recipes that you can enjoy together or wrap up and share as gifts with friends and family. Here's one to try:

Frosted Snowmen

Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows OR 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies OR 6 cups Cocoa Krispies cereal
  • Canned frosting or decorating gel
  • Assorted candies

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 12

Directions:

In large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Add Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal. Stir until well coated. Using buttered spatula or wax paper, evenly press mixture into 15 x 10 x 1-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Using 4-inch cookie cutter coated with cooking spray, cut into snowman shapes. (If desired, use 2-, 1¾- and 1½-inch round cookie cutters coated with cooking spray to cut into circles.) Decorate snowmen with frosting and/or candies. (If using circles, for each snowman, connect three different-sized circles together with frosting. Decorate with remaining frosting and/or candies.) Best if served the same day.

More Holiday Recipes And Ideas

For the complete list of holiday recipes, as well as easy ideas from Barbara Beery for activities to get the fun times cooking in the kitchen, visit www.ricekrispies.com.

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Healthier Holiday Gatherings

(NAPSI)-The holidays don't have to be all about overindulging.

"A little planning can go a long way in helping you stay healthy and enjoy the holidays without regret," says Tammi Hancock, a registered dietitian. "An occasional small treat will help keep you from feeling deprived, but try to keep it to one per day."

Here are a few other tips and tricks to enjoying healthy and happy holidays:

  • Don't Go Hungry: It's tough not to dive into the buffet or hit the appetizers hard if you're famished when you arrive at a holiday get-together. Try eating a filling and healthy snack such as apples with peanut butter before the event to help you avoid temptation and make healthier choices. Skip the buffet if you can; or try using a smaller plate so you don't feel tempted to pile it on or end up feeling deprived.
  • Gifts From the Heart: Everyone enjoys a holiday cookie exchange or a homemade gift basket of goodies. This year, really wow them with cookies or gifts that are as healthy as they are tasty. It's easy to do with a few simple substitutions. Replace regular butter in your favorite holiday cookies and treats with lighter spreads such as Smart Balance® Butter Blend Stick; it has the same flavor and cooking qualities without all the saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Better Potluck: Instead of bringing a decadent treat or another trans fat-laden dip, lighten up; your friends and family will appreciate the taste and nutrition. Try switching to one of Smart Balance's new sour cream varieties to make great-tasting versions of your favorite dips. Along with great taste, you'll be adding vitamins D and E as well as calcium to the mix.

White Onion Dip

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Smart Balance Sour Cream and Omega-3s & Vitamins D and E
  • 4 tablespoons of any Smart Balance milk variety
  • 1 cup very finely chopped white onion
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Serves 6; 2-tablespoon servings

Directions: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and serve with fresh veggies.

Chef's Tip: Save time before a party-prepare up to 2 hours in advance and refrigerate.

Per serving: 51 calories, 1 gram protein, 2 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fat, 2.3 grams saturated fat, 0 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 grams polyunsaturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 22 mg omega-3 fatty acids, 2 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 13 mg cholesterol, 215 mg sodium, 0 grams fiber.

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