1. Baked Tacos
8 corn tortillas (6-inch diameter)
1 cup pureed tomato salsa
2 cups cooked, crumbled lean ground beef, chicken, or turkey
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican four-cheese blend
Red chile flakes to taste (optional)
1/2 firm-ripe Hass avocado, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
Preheat the oven to 475°F. Place the tortillas on a nonstick baking sheet. Spread each tortilla with 2 tablespoons of the salsa, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle each taco with 1/4 cup of the crumbled meat and 1 tablespoon of cheese. Sprinkle with chile flakes (if using).
Bake for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the cheese melts and the edges just start to brown. Remove from the oven. Loosen from the pan.
Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon diced avocado and fold in half, pressing the edges of the tortilla lightly together. Serve immediately
2. Smoky Salmon Spread
1-½ cups nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt
½ medium roasted, peeled red bell pepper or ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 tbsp + 1 tsp horseradish
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 oz smoked salmon finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped shallots
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
Combine the yogurt, cream cheese, roasted pepper, horseradish, lime juice, and mustard in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the salmon and shallots. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with chives. Serve with whole-grain crackers.
3. Grilled Shrimp With Roasted Cocktail Sauce
This zippy cocktail sauce doesn’t contain any sugar, unlike most bottled brands available in the supermarket. Serve it up with either boiled or grilled shrimp, although we suggest you go with the grill if you can—it adds a rich layer of flavor to this timeless appetizer.
1 cup canned no-salt-added fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 tbsp horseradish
1 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp chipotle puree or chili flakes
16 jumbo shrimp (about 1 lb.), peeled and deveined, then boiled or grilled
Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer the sauce to a jar and chill for at least 30 minutes before using to let the flavors meld. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 month. Spoon 1/4 cup of cocktail sauce into each of 4 decorative glasses. Top with 4 shrimp per glass. Sprinkle with the parsley and garnish with the lemon wedges or slices.
4. Lemon-drop Chicken Wings
1/2 cup vodka
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds chicken wings, tips trimmed off
In a large bowl or resealable plastic bag, combine vodka, lemon juice, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Add the chicken wings and mix to coat. Cover bowl or seal bag and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a 9- by 13-in. baking pan with two layers of foil. Arrange the chicken wings in a single layer in the pan, and pour the marinade evenly over all. Bake until meat is well browned and pulling away from the bone, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm.
5. Fudgy Chocolate Brownies
5 tablespoons stick margarine
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup Dutch process or unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 325°.
Melt margarine and chocolate in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa; cook 1 minute. Stir in sugar, and cook 1 minute (mixture will almost form a ball and be difficult to stir). Remove pan from heat; cool slightly. Gradually add warm chocolate mixture to egg whites and egg, stirring with a whisk until well-blended. Combine flour and baking powder; add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring well.
Spoon batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack.
6. Smoky Chicken Fingers
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1 teaspoon barbecue smoked seasoning (such as Hickory Liquid Smoke)
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoons garlic and herb seasoning
2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch strips
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
Preheat oven to 400º. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
In a shallow dish, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Mix with a fork to combine. In a separate shallow dish, combine milk and liquid smoke. In a third shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, oats, and garlic seasoning.
Dip chicken into flour, and turn to coat both sides; shake off any excess flour. Transfer chicken to milk mixture and turn to coat. Transfer to the breadcrumb-oat mixture, and turn chicken to coat. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet, and spray tops of strips with cooking spray.
Bake 25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and crust is browned.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together mustard and honey.
7. Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
2 medium sweet potatoes (8 to 10 ounces each)
3 ounces Canadian bacon, diced
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
3 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
Pierce potatoes with a fork, and arrange on paper towels. Microwave on high 8 minutes; turn potatoes over after 4 minutes. Cut each potato in half lengthwise, and scoop out the pulp, leaving 1/4-inch-thick shells. Mash pulp with 3 ounces Canadian bacon, 2 tablespoons sour cream, and 2 teaspoons chives in a bowl. Spoon mixture into shells. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over tops of potatoes. Microwave on high 2 minutes, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon chives.
8. Strawberry Oatmeal Bars
1 3/4 sticks salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for greasing pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
One 10 to 12-ounce jar strawberry preserves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch rectangular pan.
Mix together the butter, flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Press half the oat mixture into the prepared pan. Spread with the strawberry preserves. Sprinkle the other half of the oat mixture over the top and pat lightly. Bake until light brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely, and then cut into squares.
Pico de Gallo, recipe follows
Tortilla chips, for serving
Halve the avocados lengthwise. Remove the pit and dice the flesh inside the shell. Squeeze the diced avocado into a bowl.
Next, sprinkle on some salt and mash away with a fork until you get the avocado to the consistency you want.
10. Pico de Gallo
3 yellow or red onions
12 Roma tomatoes (slightly under ripe is fine)
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
2 to 3 jalapenos
Dice up equal quantities of onion and tomato. Roughly chop the cilantro.
Now, slice 1 or 2 jalapenos in half. With a spoon, scrape out the seeds. (If you like things spicy, leave in some of the white membranes.) Dice the jalapenos very finely; you want a hint of heat and jalapeno flavor, but you don’t want to cause any fires. Now dump the four ingredients into a bowl.
Slice the lime in half and squeeze the juice from half a lime the bowl. Sprinkle with salt, and stir together until combined. Be sure to taste the pico de gallo and adjust the seasonings, adding salt or more diced jalapeno if needed.
11. Five Layer Mexican Dip
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon minced chipotle pepper in adobo
4 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups corn kernels (10-ounce box frozen corn)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 ripe avocados
4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion
1 tablespoon finely diced jalapeno pepper, optional
3/4 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until they soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
Put half of the onion mixture into a food processor with the black beans, chipotle pepper, 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, cumin, water and salt. Puree until smooth. Set aside.
Add the corn to the skillet with the remaining onion mixture and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro leaves.
In a small bowl mash the avocado with the remaining lime juice. In a medium bowl toss together the tomatoes, scallion and jalapeno, if using. Season tomato mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.
Spread the black bean dip into the bottom of an 8 by 8 glass baking or serving dish. Top with the corn mixture, spreading it out to form a single layer over the beans, repeat with the avocado, then the tomatoes. Top with cheese. Serve with baked chips.
12. Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cloves garlic
1 (9-ounce) package artichoke hearts, defrosted, rinsed and dried
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, excess liquid squeezed out.
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup (4 ounces) Neufchatel cheese (reduced-fat cream cheese)
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Pita wedges or crudites, for serving
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until onions are light golden but not browned. Remove from heat and cool.
In the bowl of a food processor combine artichoke hearts, spinach, sour cream, mayonnaise, Neufchatel, mozzarella and salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Add cooled onion-garlic mixture to the food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
Transfer mixture into an 8-inch glass square baking dish or 9-inch glass pie plate which has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. Serve with pita wedges or crudites.