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Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

(Great variation on your traditional chicken soup recipe!)

1 tablespoon sesame oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons minced ginger

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup natural chunky peanut butter

1 cup crushed tomatoes

6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon fish sauce

6-ounces rice noodles

2 cups shredded green cabbage

1 cup canned bean sprouts, drained

1/4 cup chopped scallions

Cilantro, chopped (optional)

Peanuts, chopped (optional

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger and chicken. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink on the outside. Next, dissolve the peanut butter in the crushed tomatoes. Add the mixture to the soup pot along with the chicken broth and fish sauce; bring to a boil. Add the noodles, and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Add in the cabbage and cook an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the bean sprouts and scallions; turn off heat. To serve, ladle soup into individual serving bowls and top each with cilantro and peanuts, if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

Black Bean Pizza

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup thawed frozen corn kernels

4 plum tomatoes, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

1/2 cup chopped scallions

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 avocado, diced into 1/4-inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

16-ounces pizza dough, regular or whole-wheat

1 cup reduced-fat sharp cheddar, finely shredded

Preheat oven to 450° and place an empty baking sheet on the middle rack.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, scallions, cumin, chili powder, avocado, salt and black pepper; set aside.

Next, working on a lightly floured surface, roll the pizza dough into a 13-inch circle. Transfer to the warmed baking sheet and crimp the edges slightly to form a lip at the edge of the crust. Top with the black bean mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cut into 8 slices and serve. Yield: 4 servings (2 slices each).

Baked or Grilled Salmon Steaks

(Great Lenten dish;
requested by a reader.)

4 salmon steaks, sliced 3/4-inch thick

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup corn oil

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

Bearnaise sauce (recipe follows)

Place salmon in baking dish. Combine and blend remaining ingredients; pour over fish and marinate at least 3 hours or more. Place salmon in a glass baking dish and bake at 350° for 20 minutes, basting frequently, with the marinade. Salmon is baked when it flakes easily.

To make grilled salmon: Barbecue salmon on well-greased grill, 5 to 6 minutes on each side, basting with the marinade. Grill must be very hot to avoid sticking. Yield: 4 servings.

For bearnaise sauce:

2 tablespoons white wine

2 teaspoons tarragon vinegar

2 teaspoons chopped tarragon

1 tablespoon chopped scallions

Dash of pepper

1 stick butter

3 egg yolks

1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash of cayenne pepper

To make sauce: Combine wine and next 4 ingredients in saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook quickly until almost all liquid disappears. Heat butter in small saucepan until it bubbles; do not let butter brown. In a blender or processor, place egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper. Cover and flick motor on and off at high speed. Add hot butter while blending at high speed. Add herb mixture, cover and blend at high speed a few seconds. Serve at once. Yield: almost 1 cup.

Our Favorite Baked Pierogi

(Serve with an easy sauce made of milk and grated cheddar cheese; with enough cheese to make it of dipping consistency!)

2 cups boiled milk (cool to lukewarm)

1 stick butter or margarine

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cake yeast (large) dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water

3 egg yolks

6 cups flour

Melt butter in milk while cooling, also add salt and sugar. When lukewarm, add egg yolks, yeast and start adding flour until it can be kneaded. Knead about 10 minutes until dough is soft and comes clean from your hands. Cover in lightly greased bowl and let rise 1 hour. Punch down; let rise again 1/2 hour. Punch down and let dough rest 10 minutes. Divide dough into 3 balls. Roll out 1 portion; cut as you would regular pierogi and fill with potato-cabbage filling. Seal well and let rise on lightly greased cookie sheets, not too close, for about 1/2 hour. You can brush with egg wash before putting in oven. Pierce tops with fork 1 or 2 times and bake at 350° for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.

To make with potato-cabbage filling: Chop onions and fry with sauerkraut and butter. Mix with plain boiled potatoes, salt and pepper to taste.

Creamy Mac’n Cheese

8-ounces Cavatappi pasta

1/4 cup Italian-seasoned dry breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1-1/2 cups milk

1 (10-3/4-ounce) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup

1/2 cup hot water

3 cups (12-ounces) Cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. In the meantime, coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Combine breadcrumbs and butter; reserve.

Next, in a large pot, whisk together milk, soup and hot water over medium-high heat, bring to boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium; stir in cheese and petter. Cook, stirring, until cheese is melted. Remove mixture from heat; stir in pasta. Transfer to baking dish and sprinklewith breadcrumb mixture. Bake until golden and bubbly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley before serving, if desired. Yield: 6 servings.

Double Vanilla Meringue Cookies

1 cup sugar, divided

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 large egg whites (room temperature)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325°. Place 1/4 cup sugar in small bowl. Add vanilla to sugar, stir well with whisk. Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt at high speed of a mixer until foamy. Gradually add 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating mixture until stiff peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla mixture; beat until just combined. (Stiff peaks will take on the consistency of marshmallow cream.) Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper; secure to baking sheet with masking tape. Drop batter by level tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes or until crisp. Cool on pan on wire rack. Repeat procedure with remaining batter, reusing parchment paper. Store in airtight container. Yield: 2-1/2 dozen.

Any comments, questions or favorite recipes? I would like to hear from you. Please email me at Please write “Helen’s Kitchen Request” in the subject line to make sure that I receive your email!

Web bonus recipe!

Low-Fat Carrot Cake

(Easter favorite!)

2 large carrots, shredded

3/4 cup sugar

1 (4-ounce) can crushed pineapple

1 (4-ounce) jar carrot puree

4 egg whites or 1/2 cup liquid egg substitute

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/4 cups cake flour

1-1/4 cups oat bran

2 teaspoons baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 (8-ounce) package fat-free cream cheese, softened

Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, mix carrots, 1/2 cup sugar, pineapple (with juice), carrot puree, egg whites or substitute, vanilla and salt. In another large bowl, combine flour, oat bran, baking soda and cinnamon. Fold in carrot mixture just until combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan.

In a medium bowl with electric mixer, beat cream cheese and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Spread evenly over cake. Yield: 12 servings.