Halfway Homemade: Cooking with Convenience Foods (cont.)

And now for the recipes ?

Chocolate Cinnamon Croissants

You'll never go back to plain crescent rolls once you try this easy but elegant version!

8 ounce pop-can of Pillsbury Reduced Fat Crescent dough
4 tablespoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll the crescent rolls to lie flat on a nonstick jellyroll pan or cookie sheet.
  • Mix sugar with cinnamon in a small cup, and sprinkle evenly over the top of the unrolled triangles of dough.
  • Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon (or 1/2 tablespoon) of mini chocolate chips over each triangle of dough. Roll up each of the crescents, curve into crescent shapes, and space them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.
  • Bake for about 11 minutes or until golden brown.

Yield: 8 servings

Per crescent: 129 calories, 2.2 g protein, 16.4 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat (1.9 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 0.3 g fiber, 230 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 41 percent.

Spinach Quiche

This recipe uses the prepared pie crusts found in the freezer section of your supermarket. You can find some alternative brands with more fiber and less saturated fat at stores like Whole Foods. Since prepared pie crusts are usually high in fat, we're keeping the filling nice and light.

1/2 package (9-10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 scallions or green onions (white and part of the green), chopped
3 ounces flavored (such as roasted bell pepper & garlic) feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup shredded, reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
Pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (add more if desired)
9-inch unbaked deep-dish pie crust, partially thawed
2 large eggs (use higher omega-3 type, if available)
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 cup fat-free half-and-half (or substitute low-fat milk)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, toss together spinach, green onions, feta, cheddar, pepper to taste, and garlic powder.
  • Spoon mixture evenly into the pie crust.
  • Add eggs, egg substitute, and fat-free half-and-half to large mixing bowl, and beat on medium speed until combined. Pour into the pie crust, letting the spinach mixture combine nicely with the egg mixture.
  • Bake until center of quiche is cooked throughout (about 50-55 minutes). Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

Per serving: 228 calories, 13 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 70 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 388 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 50%.

Parmesan Artichoke Dip

Serve with lower fat, higher-fiber dippers, such as vegetables, baguettes, and low-fat wheat crackers.

4 ounces light cream cheese
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons mild chopped canned green chilies

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add cream cheese, mayonnaise and garlic to a small mixing bowl and beat on medium low until blended. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  • Spoon mixture into a 1 1/2 quart casserole or baking dish and bake until bubbly (about 30 minutes).

Yield: 6 servings

Per serving (not including the bread): 164 calories, 6 g protein, 11 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 13 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 352 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 55%.

Beef & Bean Mexican Lasagna

It's layered like lasagna, but has all the flavors of a beef and bean burrito!

1 pound ground sirloin or super-lean ground beef (around 6-8% fat)
1 cup chopped sweet or mild onion
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 packet/envelope taco seasoning
10 flour tortillas cut in half
14-ounce can enchilada sauce
15-ounce can fat-free or vegetarian refried beans
12-ounce jar mild salsa (whatever flavor you desire)
2 1/2 cups shredded, reduced-fat Jack cheese (or a combination of reduced-fat Jack and reduced-fat cheddar)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef and onion in a large, nonstick skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat, breaking the beef into small pieces as it cooks using a potato masher. Stir in the garlic powder, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and taco seasoning.
  • Spread 1 cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Top with about a third of the flour tortillas. Add refried beans and 1/8 cup of the enchilada sauce to a medium, microwave-safe bowl and warm in microwave over HIGH heat to soften beans (30-60 seconds). Spread beans over the layer of tortillas in pan. Add half of the beef mixture, then half of the salsa, and a cup of the grated cheese.
  • Repeat the layers again, starting with another third of the tortillas, the rest of the beef, the rest of the salsa, and a cup of the grated cheese. Top with the remaining tortillas and spread the remaining enchilada sauce over the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes or until heated throughout and cheese is bubbly.

Yield: 10 servings

Per serving: 345 calories, 22 g protein, 39 g carbohydrate, 10.5 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 27 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 850 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 30%.

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