Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Back on track and ready to rock. And a couple of unpublished recipes

So much has happened in our lives since we last posted to the Blog in mid March.  Judy and I are now figuring out what it means to be retired, having just sold our Grout Wizard business. We have also rented out our home in Danville and we are now, figuratively speaking, on the road with Oscar, our dog. 

At the moment, and until early May, we are staying in Palm Desert where we are thoroughly enjoying all that the Coachella Valley has to offer.  Thus far it’s been golf, shopping and early morning power walks with Judy. But there is so much more here to enjoy, and we don’t plan on missing a thing.

Now that we are somewhat settled, after the trials and tribulations of packing up our home  and moving after sixteen years in the same place, we can get back to what is really important, cooking and eating and writing this Blog.

For those of you who may not know, Judy and I are going to relocate our “base of operations” to Tulsa, Oklahoma. That’s Judy’s home town.  We will be living there in the Spring and Fall of each year and spending our Summers at Lake Tahoe. Winter will be split between Palm Desert and San Diego.

We will, for the most part, be traveling to each of our seasonal locations by car, with Oscar acting as pet navigator.  Although Judy and I have driven across much of Europe on several of our vacations, I have never really seen much of America. Retirement will give us that opportunity.  We plan on taking full advantage.

As we enjoy this new adventure we will incorporate anecdotal stories of our travels into Cooking D’Lites.  We will be searching for new and unusual recipes from places we visit and if, after testing them on ourselves, we find  they are blog worthy we will write about them as well.

Most of the posts we write are about recipes for dinner meals, but we also eat breakfast and lunch.  Sometimes we make our lunch and sometimes we are out for lunch.  When we are out we always figure out the PointsPlus value of what we are eating.  We will, from time to time, share some of our favorite breakfast and lunch discoveries. 

For example, today we discovered a great burger place in Palm Desert called Grill-a-Burger.  It is without a doubt one of the best burger places I’ve ever been to.  The menu is extensive and includes such items as Dracula’s Dilemma Gaaalic Burger loaded with garlic, Devils Revenge Burger and Ricky Ricardo’s Babaloo burger.  Judy and I decided to share the Hot to Trot Turkey Burger which included a whole roasted green chili and pepper jack cheese on a whole wheat bun, instead of the jalapeno-cheese bun. We had them hold the chipotle mayo. Sweet potato fries completed the meal.  The PointsPlus value of the burger was 5 per half and the Sweet Potato fries were about 3 points for each of us. That was a delicious 8 point lunch.

Before we left Danville we had prepared a couple of dinner recipes that we didn’t have time to post. Now that we are finally settled in and once again have the time we are happy to bring them both to you in this posting.

From our kitchen to yours.  Enjoy the adventure.

Baked Rigatoni with Turkey Sausage


Baked Rigatoni with Turkey Sausage
¾ pounds Turkey Sausage, spicy, casings removed

1 medium Onion, chopped

1 medium Green Pepper, chopped

28 oz. canned diced Tomatoes

10 oz. Frozen Peas, thawed

2 Tbsp canned Tomato Paste

1 tsp Oregano, dried

1 tsp Basil, dried

½ tsp Thyme, dried

½ tsp Fennel seed

½ tsp Salt, or to taste

½ tsp Black Pepper, freshly ground

12 oz Whole wheat Rigatoni or Ziti, cooked according to package directions

6 oz Mozzarella cheese, part-skim


Position a rack in the center of the oven, preheat oven to 350°F.

Crumble the sausage meat into a large saucepan and brown over medium heat, stirring often, about 4 minutes

Drain off any fat, then add the Onion and Green Pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the Tomatoes, Peas, Tomato paste, Oregano, Basil, Thyme, Fennel seeds, Salt and Black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in the cooked Pasta and half of the Cheese. Spread evenly into a 9” x 13” baking pan. Top evenly with the remainder of the Cheese.

Bake until the Cheese melts and the casserole is bubbly, about 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes at room temperature before slicing into 8 pieces.  Yields 1 slice per portion.

PointsPlus value per serving is 8. Prep time is about 15 minutes. Cooking time is about 35 minutes. Level of difficulty is Easy.

Chicken Divan Crepes

Since beginning this blog the one recipe we have had the most fun preparing has been Crepes.  If the two of us ever open a restaurant the menu will definitely include Crepes. This one incorporates a roasted chicken breast that you can pick up, already prepared, at your local supermarket.  Here’s a creamy, cheesy, savory dish that will be just as good for breakfast or lunch as it is for dinner.

We posted a recipe for Ham and Mushroom Crepes in January.  We have simply recreated the recipe for the actual crepe here.  The recipe and instructions for the filling follow.



Chicken Divan Crepe
½ cup whole wheat flour, all natural

¼ tsp Salt

¾ cup low fat Milk 2%

2 large Eggs


2 Tbsp Butter

2 Tbsp Whole Grain Wheat Flour

1 cup fat-free, low sodium Chicken Broth

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 cup low-fat shredded Cheddar Cheese

¼ cup fat-free shredded Cheddar Cheese

1 Tbsp reduced-fat Sour Cream

10oz Broccoli florets

1 ½ cups Roasted Chicken Breast, chopped


To prepare the Crepes, Combine the flour and Salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the Milk and Eggs in a separate bowl. Slowly whisk the Milk and Egg mixture into the Flour mixture until smooth. Let stand at least 15 minutes.

Spray a small nonstick skillet or crepe pan with cooking spray and set over medium heat. Stir the batter and pour ¼ cup of the mixture into the skillet, tilting in all directions to form a thin, even layer. Cook until the top is set and the bottom is golden, about 1 – 1 ½ minutes. Flip the crepe and cook the other side about 15 – 20 seconds until golden.  Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter to make 6 crepes. Remember to spray the skillet between crepes.  Cover all crepes loosely with plastic wrap and set aside.

For the Filling melt Butter in a saucepan.  Add the flour and stir and cook for a few minutes until smooth and creamy.  Add Worcestershire sauce and chicken Broth.  Cook over medium heat until thickened.

Stir in 1 cup low-fat Cheddar and stir to melt.  Stir in Sour Cream.

Lay out 6 Crepes on a flat surface.  Fill each by spooning the cooked and chopped Chicken Breast and Broccoli down the center of each Crepe.  Spoon 2 Tbsp of the Cheese Sauce over the Chicken/Broccoli mixture.

To assemble; Roll up the Crepes, folding in the sides to prevent leakage.  Place all 6 Crepes in a 9” x 13” casserole dish. Drizzle the remaining Cheese sauce over each Crepe. Then sprinkle the remaining fat-free Cheddar over each Crepe.

Bake at 350°F for 20 – 30 minutes until hot and the Cheese is melted and bubbly.

Yields 6 servings.  PointsPlus value per serving is 7.  Prep time is about 25 minutes.  Cooking time is about 40 minutes total.  Level of difficulty is Moderate.

Weight Watchers and PointsPlus are registered trademarks of Weight Watchers Intl. Inc.

Recipes shown may not be exactly the same as those found on any website. Judy and I tend to "tweak" each recipe we feature, to some degree, incorporating our own unique tastes and ideas. PointsPlus values, however, are accurate. 

Photos by Barry Baruh

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