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Planning Easter Dinner

Having guests over for Easter? Attending a potluck or an event where you need to bring a dish? Then take a look at some of the perfect Easter dishes from 400 Calories or Less !

I typically make holidays my ‘Cheat Day’ for the week, but I don’t go wild – I just don’t watch quite as close as I normally do. With my low cal dishes, you can have an appetizer, soup, your meal and dessert for less than some single slices of cake (think Cheesecake Factory). So put your apron and get makin’ some Easter goodies :)

My Easter Meal Recommendation:

Appetizers:
Stuffed Mushrooms
Zucchini Pizzas
Spinach Tarts

Soup:
Lemon Soup

Dinner:
Baked Ham
Steamed Potatoes with Garlic Sauce
Lemony Green Beans

Dessert:
Chocolate Bark
Banana Cake

The mushrooms can be prepped ahead of time and cooked when the guest arrive. Same with the zucchini pizzas. The spinach tarts can be prepared AND cooked the day ahead – they reheat great in the microwave or oven.

The soup can be prepared ahead and kept warm in a crock pot set to the ‘warm’ setting.

The ham can go in the oven early, taken out while you cook the appetizers and placed back in to finish up the cooking. And the potatoes can be done ahead and you keep them warm in a crock or reheat at the last minute. Keep the steamer out and reuse it to do the beans. The beans should be done at the last minute – but it is just a steaming and quick mix with the other ingredients before you bring them to the table.

The 2 desserts can be prepared the day before.

Happy Easter and Happy Cooking !

Black Bean Dip with Avocado

This is such a great snack – and it even makes a great, filling lunch when you pair it with Triscuits.

Black Bean Dip with Avocado
Black Bean Dip with Avocado

4 servings
270 calories per serving

1 can black beans, drained, rinsed, and mashed
1 c chopped avocado
1 c shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
4 c baby carrots for dipping

Place the beans in 4 bowls and coarsely mash. Stir in cheese and avocado. Serve carrots alongside. Add 100 calories worth of Triscuits or your favorite cracker to make it a little more filling and meal sized instead of snack sized.

And here is a video teaching you how to use an avocado slicer so you can make perfect slices for all your meals !

Mocha Parfaits

Rich, creamy and very flavorful. The family won’t even know they are eating healthy cottage cheese ! So much healthier than sugar laden puddings, ice creams, etc.

Mocha Parfaits
Mocha Parfaits

4 servings
210 calories per serving

16 oz. low fat cottage cheese
1/4 c sugar
1 T cocoa powder
1 1/2 t instant coffee powder
2 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup + 2 T Cool Whip Lite
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Blend cottage cheese, sugar, cocoa and coffee in a blender. Take 1half of the mixture out of the blender and distribute among the 4 parfait cups. Place 2 T Cool Whip in blender and quickly blend. Distribute half the berries in the parfait glasses. Then add the remainder of the mocha mix and the remainder of the berries. Top with Cool Whip and nuts.

Enjoyable Home Cooking

The recipes on this site are great if you are trying to be healthy. This is an important issue for many people, and it does not have to be as bland as some think. Healthy food, if cooked right and with the right seasoning, can be really delicious as well as good for your body.

Maintaining a good diet is a great way to insure your health for the rest of your life. We all want to have good insurance from places like http://www.aviva.co.uk/life/ to give us peace of mind, but why not give yourself another type of insurance too. The fact that you are healthy and well will be its own type of assurance for peace of mind.

It is easy to get into a bad routine of microwave meals and bad quality, shop-bought food. Some people do not want to make the effort of cooking a meal from scratch. But it can actually be really enjoyable. If you treat it more like a fun, creative activity than a chore which we have to perform, it can be rewarding in many ways.

Cooking is also something that people can do together. If you enlist the help of the rest of your family, it can become a great bonding exercise. It encourages communication and cooperation in a way that you will all appreciate once the meal is finished.

Cooking also encourages you to be creative, as you do not always have to stick to recipes. That can be part of the fun of it, creating new dishes and tasting them. Sometimes it will go well, and sometimes it won’t, but if you treat it as a learning experience then you will just be amused at the end. And who knows, you may even end up creating something really delicious that you can be proud of.

Bacon and Cheese Hotdog

What a great change to your regular hotdog. The kids will gobble these up ! If you use a low fat bun and non fat hotdogs, you can get this calorie count down quite a bit.

Bacon and Cheese Hotdog
Bacon and Cheese Hotdog

1 serving
330 calories per serving

1 low fat beef hot dog
2 slices cooked turkey bacon, crumbled
1 whole wheat hot dog bun
1 slice Kraft fat free cheese
1 T barbeque sauce or ketchup

Grill or boil the hot dog. Place cheese in bun and add hot dog. Top with sauce and bacon crumbles.

Farmer’s Market Fans Rejoice !

Second to cooking, my favorite thing is geeking out with my iOS apps. If you have an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, you have to check out a great app that brings the 2 together – – Farmers Market Finder. In the free version you get all the listings for California markets. In the paid version, called USA Farm Fresh, you get listings in all states. Just visit the iTunes store or head on over to the developer’s site to download it now.

This is a great way to find some new markets and to get all the details you need on markets you may already know (directions, contact information, etc.). Just let the app use its locator to find you and then it will list all the close by markets. Each listing includes contact information and a visual representation of what you will find at the market (fruit, veggies, poultry, bakery goods, plants, flowers, etc.)

You can browse listings, search, locate markets on a map and you can save all your favorites. I love that I can be on the road anywhere and do a quick search and find great new markets that I may not have even known about. There’s no better way to find the freshest foods available than to head out to your local farmer’s markets. See you there ! :)

Get the app on iTunes or at the developer site.

Ebates – I’m an Internet Shopper

I’m an internet shopper – I think the best deals can be gotten on the net. I often buy specialty food items or even regular food items that my local stores don’t stock after doing internet searches and finding the best deal. All this shopping and I had not signed up to Ebates until recently – how silly of me ! I could have been racking up the rebate $$$ all this time !

It’s pretty darned easy – you sign up and you get cash back when you shop at certain retailers. The list of retailers is HUGE (over 1200 and many are places you already shop online – BJ’s, Target, Macy’s, Staples, Drugstore.com, Cooking.com and on and on and on !) Why not use your best rewards credit card and you can get cash back from Ebates on top of your credit card cash back rewards and bonuses !!

If you sign up under my account then I get a referral bonus – – so if you’re thinking about signing up, I appreciate your taking my link to

Start earning cash back with me ! :)

Roasted Cauliflower

Cheese and cauliflower go together so nicely. Adding it makes cauliflower so much better – it even makes it kinda festive ! Give it a try :)

Roasted Cauliflower
Roasted Cauliflower

4 servings
162 calories per serving

1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 T oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c grated low fat cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix cauliflower with oil, salt and pepper. Cook 20-25 minutes or until tender then sprinkle with cheese and cook another 2-3 minutes.

Chicken with Herbed Butter

So simple, so few ingredients – yet this turns out a chicken dish with a fancy and refined flavor. Make sure you serve each piece of chicken with extra sauce drizzled over the top. This is ‘out of this world’ good !

Chicken with Herbed Butter
Chicken with Herbed Butter

4 servings
302 calories per serving

1/4 c flour
1 1/2 lb very thin chicken cutlets (8 cutlets)
Salt and pepper to taste
Pam
3/4 cup white cooking wine or chicken broth
2 T cold butter, cut into small pieces
3 T finely chopped parsley or basil

Season chicken with salt and pepper and then dredge in flour. Heat skillet on medium high heat, spray with Pam and cook chicken until browned, cooking only as many as will fit into pan without overlapping. Cook 3-4 minutes per side or until browned. Transfer chicken to plate. Add more Pam to skillet as between batches.

Add wine or broth and boil until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Add chicken back to skillet and turn to coat. Remove skillet from heat and stir in the butter and parsley or basil. Season with salt and pepper.

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