Lunch With Loni

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Bean Soup w/ Kale January 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 11:17 pm

Recipe courtesy of: USA WEEKEND columnist Jean Carper

Original recipe located at:

After making the Zuppa Toscana last week, I still had quite a bit of kale left over.  A quick search on yielded this healthy and colorful soup.

AND this was actually a “Lunch with Loni” (+Loni’s husband).  While most of my dinner items wind up being lunch the next day, this was actually eaten FOR lunch. 

What a difference daylight makes (in the quality of a photo)!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
  • 8 large garlic cloves, crushed or minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cups chopped raw kale
  • 4 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, such as cannellini or navy, undrained
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped (I used 5 whole peeled tomatoes from a can)
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped parsley (I added a bit of dried parsley to the soup as it cooked, as I don’t have fresh parsley and never use it all before it goes bad, anyhow!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I like a little bit of a kick)
  • 1 carrot, diced (adds another color to the soup, and I had one on hand I wanted to use)
  • 2 turkey sausage links (I stock up on turkey sausage when it’s on sale at my deli department and I needed to start using it, it’s taking over my freezer)



  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic and onion; saute until soft. (I made it in the crock pot, but added the olive oil, onion, carrots, and sausage first before adding the other ingredients)
  2. Add kale and saute, stirring, until wilted.
  3.  Add 3 cups of broth, 2 cups of beans, and all of the tomato, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes.
  4. In a blender or food processor, mix the remaining beans and broth until smooth. Stir into soup to thicken. Simmer 15 minutes. (I left it on low for a few hours)
  5. Ladle into bowls; sprinkle with chopped parsley (I used grated romano cheese as my garnish).

Pumpkin Birthday Cheesecake

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 11:08 pm

Recipe courtesy of: Stephanie Phillips at

Original recipe located at:

My husband requested this cheesecake as his birthday cake.  I have been meaning to make it for awhile (since before Christmas), but hadn’t gotten around to it.  It also happens to be my very first cheesecake (unless you count cheesecake bars).  I adapted the recipe based on some of the recommendations of reviewers.  The ingredients include the alterations, but you can click the link for the original recipe.

While this is supposed to be a “double layer” cheesecake, I forgot to add the eggs before separating out one cup of the cheesecake mixture (woops), which I realized when I tried to spread it onto the crust and it wasn’t very “spreadable.”  So back into the bowl it went with the rest that already had pumpkin in it.  The white in the picture below is some of the part I tried to spread that I didn’t get scooped up all the way.


While it may have a streak of white, I am proud to say that there were no cracks in the finished product!


  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (I used one regular and two light packages)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Graham cracker crust (I followed this recipe: )
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin pie filling (the recipe calls for 1/4 cup but I tasted the mixture and it wasn’t pumpkin-y enough for me)
  • 1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1.5 cups of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside.
  3. Add pumpkin pie filling to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Cover with whipped topping before serving.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 10:55 pm

Recupe courtesy of: “Pennies on a Platter” (food blog)

Original recipe located at: 

I saw this recipe on a forum I’m a member of, and it sounded like something I needed to try.  It had some of my favorite ingredients: pasta, cheese, and bell peppers. 


8 ounces rotini pasta (I used gemelli–such a cute pasta)
3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cubed 
2 – 3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (or to taste)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
8 oz package sliced mushrooms
1 green onion, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
salt, to taste
2 cloves minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 – 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add salt and pasta, then cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente; drain.

Place the chicken and the Cajun seasoning in a plastic bag. Shake to coat. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, saute the chicken until almost tender (5 to 7 minutes).

Add the bell peppers, mushrooms and green onion. Saute and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat.

Add the cream, basil, lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder and ground black pepper. Heat through. Add cornstarch until sauce reaches desired thickness. Add the cooked pasta, toss and heat through. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

I only used green bell pepper because they were on sale and I had a few of them on hand.  I definitely recommend using one red and one green if you can, because the color of red peppers would really pop in this dish, and I like the sweet flavor they have. 

I think you could easily cut this down to two chicken breasts if you’re like me and prefer a healthy dose of carbs with your protein!  I would keep the sauce amount the same. 

If I made the recipe again, I would saute the peppers and mushrooms separately.  They didn’t cook quite enough in with the chicken (for my taste).  I would also add the liquid to that pan and stir the corn starch in, as it was difficult to blend the corn starch in the pan with the chicken and vegetables.

Overall, a tasty recipe and a nice change from the typical chicken and pasta.


Chicken Florentine (“light”) January 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 5:08 am

Courtesy of: I typed this recipe up from a clipping my mom mailed me, and of course tossed the clipping and didn’t type the source.  Sorry!

This was my first attempt at chicken florentine, and this variation was easy to throw together and yielded plenty of leftovers that go great tossed with pasta or served over rice.  I think adding chopped artichokes would add a nice twist, but I may be partial since spinach artichoke dip is one of my favorite appetizers and I often order pasta dishes that have artichokes in them!


10 oz package frozen chopped spinach

3 grilled or roasted chicken breast halves (diced or shredded)—I grilled the chicken breasts on the George Foreman until they were almost done, then chunked them.  I was worried that they would dry out too much in the oven if I grilled them too long, but they weren’t at all, probably because there is quite a bit of liquid in the recipe.

10-3/4 oz can cream of mushroom soup

¼ cup light mayonnaise

¾ cup fat free sour cream

1 cup grated reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, firmly packed  (I used 1/2 cup sharp cheddar and 1/2 cup of an Italian blend…I only had 1/2 cup of cheddar left and didn’t want to open another packet when I had the Italian one open already)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

½  teaspoon curry powder

Freshly ground black pepper to taste (approx ¼ teaspoon)

¼ cup dry white wine, non-alcoholic or light beer or low fat milk (I used white wine)

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs (I used cracker-crumbs, as I had some crackers that were going stale that I needed to use)

Canola cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 1-1/2 quart or 2 quart baking dish with canola cooking spray.

Drain the spinach to remove excess water then place in a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the shredded chicken and se taside.

In medium bowl, combine the soup, mayo, sour cream, cheddar, lemon juice, curry powder, black pepper and wine with a wisk until a nice sauce forms.  Stir in the chicken and spinach mixture and spoon into the prepared dish.  Level the top with a spatula or spoon.

In a small bowl combine the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs together.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the chicken mixture.  Coat the top with canola cooking spray.

Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Serves four.

313 calories per serving (We only ate 1/6 of the casserole, but we also had one serving of rice and an additional vegetable.  It rarely happens that I eat less than the serving size, considering how tiny some of them are!)


Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden knockoff)

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 5:00 am

Recipe courtesy of: An Olive Garden employee divulged the recipe, but I found it on the “Tuscan Recipes” website.

Original recipe located at:

Whenever I try a recipe out that’s based on something I’ve eaten at a restaurant, I’m always worried that it won’t be quite the same.  This recipe did not disappoint!  If you like the Zuppa Toscana at Olive Garden, definitely try this out.  If you have never been to Olive Garden, you should still try this out!  It is delightfully spicy, savory, and has a good variety of textures in it.  It also makes A LOT of soup.  I served one bowl with 1/2 of a panini for each of us, and I cut the recipe down by 2 cups of liquid, and there is still plenty to go in the freezer/to work tomorrow.

Oh, and this was my first time cooking with kale.  Do I get a special blog award for that? 


  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage ** (I used slightly less than 1lb because I was using leftover sausage from a different recipe)
  • 1½ tsp crushed red peppers
  • 1 large diced white onion
  • 4 Tbsp bacon pieces (I wasn’t sure if this meant the kind in a jar or what, so I diced 3 pieces of bacon and sauteed it with the onion)
  • 2 tsp garlic puree
  • 10 cups water (I used 8 cups—my pot wouldn’t even fit that much liquid and I like a good “stuff” to “liquid” ratio)
  • 5 cubes of chicken bouillon (I used 4 since I used 8 cups of water)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I used 1 cup evaporated milk—I wanted the creaminess so I didn’t cut down on this, especially since I didn’t use actual heavy cream)
  • 1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes (I used 3 large red potatoes—which also seemed to cook faster than the recipe indicates)
  • ¼ of a bunch of kale


  1. Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.
  2. In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions and garlic over low-medium heat for approximately 15 mins. or until the onions are soft.
  3. Add chicken bouillon and water to the pot and heat until it starts to boil.
  4. Add the sliced potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.
  5. Add the heavy cream and just cook until thoroughly heated.
  6. Stir in the sausage and the kale, let all heat through and serve. Delicious!

**I typically use turkey sausage instead of pork sausage (not only for health reasons but because I like the taste/texture better).  I think subbing turkey sausage and evaporated milk for the heavy cream, this soup can easily be made into a “lighter” version. 


Cooking Light Rösti Casserole with Baked Eggs January 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 4:36 am

Recipe courtesy of: Cooking Light Magazine (January 2010)

The umlaut in the name of this recipe called to me.  See, I lived in Germany for a few years.  I have fond memories of Reibekuchen (potato pancakes) at Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets).  Oh, they were scrumptious!  Let me see if I can dig up a photo…(circa 2005)

Okay, I’m on the right (although I have dark brown hair, but there were clearly some flash issues in this photo).  It was cold, as you can tell. 

I also happen to enjoy the occasional breakfast for dinner. 

I made more substitutions than I usually do, but I think they all worked out quite fine.  I also halved the recipe, but included the original recipe below.  I did not halve the amount of cheese.  I don’t honestly think something can have TOO much cheese.  Of course this made it slightly less “light,” but so did the bacon I served it with (and blueberry chicken sausage, yumm)!

Recommendation: DO NOT OVERCOOK THE EGGS.  I did this, but only slightly.  It’s very tricky cooking eggs in the oven.  They looked too runny to me so I left them for an extra minute and they weren’t quite as runny as I would have liked. 


  • 1 1/4  cups  fat-free Greek-style yogurt (I substituted a low-fat sour cream, as I forgot to pick Greek yogurt up at the store)
  • 2  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2  cups  grated peeled turnip (about 8 ounces, 2 small) —I omitted the turnip, as I didn’t have any on hand (and never actually have had turnips on hand)
  • 1 1/4  cups  (5 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese (I have a lot of shredded cheese in the house, but no Gruyere, and am probably too cheap to purchase it, at least for this recipe—so I used a swiss cheese blend and some shredded cheddar)  I used 1 cup of cheese even though I halved the recipe–I am a bit of a cheeseaholic. 
  • 1/3  cup  butter, melted
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh chives (oops, no chives!)
  • 1 1/4  teaspoons  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  grated whole nutmeg
  • 1  (30-ounce) package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed (such as Ore-Ida)
  • Cooking spray
  • 8  large eggs
  • Chopped fresh chives (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • Dash paprika
  • Dash cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced


1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine yogurt and flour in a large bowl, stirring well. Add turnip, Gruyère cheese, butter, chives, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, black pepper, nutmeg, and potatoes to yogurt mixture. Spread potato mixture evenly into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from oven. With the back of a spoon, make 8 indentations in top of potato mixture. Crack 1 egg into each of 8 indentations. Return dish to oven. Bake at 400° for 8 minutes or until egg whites are firm and yolks barely move when pan is touched. Cut into 8 pieces. Garnish with additional chives and black pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information (if prepared according to original recipe)

Calories: 347
Fat:  17.4g (sat 9.3g,mono 5.7g,poly 1.4g)
Protein: 18.1g
Carbohydrate: 27.3g
Fiber: 2.1g
Cholesterol: 220mg
Iron: 1.2mg
Sodium: 605mg
Calcium: 242mg


Carrot Cake Pancakes January 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 1:50 am

Recipe courtesy of:  Cooking Light Magazine (Jan/Feb 2010)

My mom gave me a subscription as a present and the first issue just arrived.  As I was perusing it last night I came across a recipe for carrot cake pancakes, adapted from the recipe served at “Snooze” restaurant in Denver.  They looked and sounded delicious.  It was a bit tedious grating the carrot, but worth it.  Delicious moist pancakes that are actually pretty healthy!  One serving is= 2 pancakes with 2 teaspoons of honey sauce
according to the magazine: calories 315, fat 13, protein 7.  The recipe makes six servings (though I halved the recipe this morning, as there were only two of us eating them–below you will find the original, “full-size” recipe).

(Not the best photo this week…I was anxious to dig in!  I like my pancakes light.  These look darker because the batter is orange.)


    * 5.6 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
    * 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
    * 2 teaspoons baking powder
    * 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    * 1/4 teaspoon salt
    * 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
    * Dash of ground cloves
    * Dash of ground ginger
    * 1/4 cup brown sugar
    * 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
    * 1 tablespoon canola oil
    * 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    * 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    * 2 cups finely grated carrot (about 1 pound)
    * Cooking spray
    * 3 tablespoons butter, softened
    * 2 tablespoons honey


Combine flour and next 7 ingredients (through ginger) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine 1/4 cup brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through eggs); add sugar mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in 2 cups carrot.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Spoon 4 (1/4 cup) batter mounds onto pan, spreading with a spatula. Cook for 2 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Carefully turn pancakes over; cook 1 minute or until bottoms are lightly browned. Repeat procedure twice with remaining batter. Combine butter and honey in a small bowl; serve with pancakes.

The only change I made was using allspice instead of cloves, because I didn’t have cloves!  I also added a bit extra of each spice, because I felt like it. =)