Cookbook review: 'Cooking Light Comfort Food'

Rich comfort food favorites are given 'makeovers' into healthy and delicious dishes.

Cooking Light
Cheesy chicken enchiladas are a perfect Sunday evening dish and just as tasty as leftovers.
Cooking Light Comfort Food ($24.95, Oxmoor House, March 2010)

There’s nothing worse than opening a cookbook without any pictures. Fortunately,
 one of my favorite things about the Cooking Light Comfort Food cookbook is its 
scrumptious photos (which are most definitely drool-worthy). From 
huevos rancheros to peach ice cream, your eyes will be begging
 you to cook each recipe.

As my husband I flipped through Cooking Light’s newest 
Comfort Food book, we couldn’t help but bookmark almost every page. Each recipe just looked 
and sounded that good! 

Perhaps you could call my husband and I Cooking Light experts – we subscribe to the
 magazine, turn to their website or cookbooks for weeknight meals, and constantly
 recommend their recipes to friends.

While their annual cookbooks are great 
resources for keeping the yearly recipes on hand, they only feature a handful of
 photos and are organized by monthly issues. The comfort food cookbook, on the other
 hand, is a brilliant idea – some of my favorite foods – mac ‘n’ cheese, pot pie,
 cinnamon buns, and meatloaf – are "lightened" so you don’t have to feel guilty for indulging in these classic dishes.

I had already made some of the recipes featured in 
the cookbook over the years as a Cooking Light fan, but I decided to try a few new 
ones including cinnamon buns. The soft, warm cinnamon buns topped with ooey-
gooey white icing may have been a lot of effort, but the taste made up for it – and the fewer-calories count is a bonus.

 For health-conscious readers, the cookbook includes complete nutrition information 
with each recipe. It also features different variations on classics including pumpkin 
cinnamon rolls and barbecue meatloaf.

On another night, I made cheesy chicken 
enchiladas. One fun thing I enjoyed throughout the book were the little nutrition 
tidbits that accompany most recipes explaining why their version is lighter than 
the regular recipes. For example, the cheesy chicken enchiladas were featured as a 
recipe makeover, where a reader had submitted a family recipe that was originally 
773 calories and 53.4 grams of fat per serving. Cooking Light revamped this family 
favorite using half the amount of reduced fat cheese, plain yogurt instead of sour
 cream, less butter, and a reduced-fat, reduced-sodium can of cream of chicken soup.
The result: 454 calories per serving and 20.3 grams of fat. These rich and creamy 
enchiladas were the perfect dish to make on a Sunday evening (and even better as 
leftovers the next day). Who says eating healthy can’t also be tasty?

Amy Nagel is a Monitor contributor.

Cooking Light Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
Source: Cooking Light Comfort Food (Oxmoor House, March 2010)

 2-1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
 2 cups (8 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
 1-2/3 cups plain low-fat yogurt
 1/3 cup butter, melted
 1/4 cup chopped onion
 1 teaspoon minced garlic
 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup (such as Healthy Request), undiluted
 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
 8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
 1 tablespoon canola oil
 Cooking spray
 1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
 1/4 cup chopped green onions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Remove 1 cup chicken mixture; set mixture aside.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, brush oil over both sides of tortilla. Add tortilla to pan; cook 5 seconds on each side or until toasted and soft. Remove from pan; arrange 1/2 cup chicken mixture down center of tortilla. Roll jelly-roll style; place filled tortilla, seam side down, in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining 7 tortillas, remaining oil, and remaining chicken mixture. Spread reserved 1 cup chicken mixture evenly over enchiladas. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese and green onions; bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Serve with a salad of fresh mango, jicama, and shredded lettuce topped with a lime vinaigrette.

Cooking Light Cinnamon Rolls
Source: Cooking Light Comfort Food (Oxmoor House, March 2010)

 1 cup warm fat-free milk (100 degrees F. to 110 degrees F.)
 6 tablespoons melted butter, divided
 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
 1 package quick-rise yeast
 16.88 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 3/4 cups)
 1 large egg, lightly beaten
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 Cooking spray
 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
 1-1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
 3 tablespoons butter, softened
 2 tablespoons heavy cream
 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
 1 cup powdered sugar

1. To prepare rolls, combine milk, 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups. Add egg and remaining granulated sugar to bowl. Stir in 4.5 ounces (1 cup) flour; let stand 10 minutes.

2. Add 11.25 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) flour and salt to milk mixture; stir until a soft dough forms (dough will be sticky). Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; turn to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees F.), free from drafts, 35 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rise 35 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes.

3. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; roll dough into an 18 x 11-inch rectangle. Brush remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter over dough; sprinkle evenly with brown sugar mixture. Beginning at one long side, roll up dough tightly, jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Cut dough into 18 (1-inch) slices. Arrange 9 slices, cut sides up, in each of 2 (8-inch) square baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 35 minutes or until doubled in size.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

5. Uncover rolls. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 22 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes in dishes on a wire rack. Turn rolls out onto wire rack; cool 5 minutes. Turn rolls over.

6. To prepare icing, combine 3 tablespoons softened butter and cream; stir with a whisk. Stir in vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar; stir until blended. Spread icing over rolls; serve warm.

Calories: 234

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