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What's for Dinner? Comforting dishes warm winter evenings

By Beverly Glaze

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Cold January weather calls for hearty and comforting dishes such as Simple Chicken Casserole, Shepherd's Pie and Vegetarian Lasagna. Purchase and cook a family pack of chicken breasts to get an economical head start on Easy Chicken Pie and Chicken Creole.

Most of the recipes this week contain less than 350 calories per serving, making them great entrée choices for a healthy start to 2013.

Easy Chicken Pie

Makes 6 servings. Source: WVUES Family Nutrition Program.

     3    cups diced, cooked chicken

     1    10-ounce package frozen mixed vegetables

     1     10.75-ounce can fat free cream of celery soup, undiluted

     1    cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

     1/4     teaspoon pepper

     1    cup self-rising flour

     1    cup skim milk

     1/4  cup light margarine

HEAT oven to 400°. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with nonfat cooking spray. Place chicken and vegetables in baking dish.

STIR together soup, chicken broth and pepper; pour over chicken mixture. Combine flour, milk, margarine; until smooth. Pour over mixture in baking dish.

BAKE 40 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool.

Nutrition information: 300 calories, 8 grams total fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 66 milligrams cholesterol, 29 grams protein, 27 grams total carbohydrates, 3.5 grams fiber, 809 milligrams sodium.

Simple Chicken Casserole

Makes 8 servings. Source: WVUES Family Nutrition Program.

     3    cups corn flakes, crushed to 1 3/4 cup

     1    egg

     1    cup reconstituted nonfat dry milk

     1    cup all-purpose flour

     1/8     teaspoon salt

     1/4     teaspoon pepper

     3     pounds chicken breasts, skin removed

     3     tablespoons olive oil

PLACE crushed cornflakes in a shallow dish or pan. Set aside.

BEAT egg and milk slightly in a small mixing bowl. Add flour, salt and pepper. Mix until smooth.

DIP chicken in batter and coat with cereal. Place in a single layer on foil-lined shallow baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 350° for 1 hour until chicken is tender and internal temperature reaches 165°. Do not cover pan or turn chicken while baking.

Nutrition information: 192 calories, 4 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 59 grams cholesterol, 13 grams total carbohydrates, 23 grams protein, 350 milligrams sodium.

Chicken Creole

Makes 4 servings. Source: Utah State University.

     1    cup brown rice

     2     boneless, skinless chicken breasts

     1    16-ounce can diced tomatoes

     1    cup low-sodium tomato juice

     1     medium onion, chopped

     2     stalks celery, chopped

     1    bell pepper, chopped

     1    bay leaf

     1/2     teaspoon thyme

     1     clove garlic, minced

     1     pinch hot pepper (optional)

COOK rice in 2 cups of water for 45 minutes and keep warm. Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients in a heavy pot. Bring contents of pot to boil.

REDUCE heat, cover pot with a lid and simmer for 1 hour or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken and cut into bite-sized pieces. Add chicken back to pot and heat through.

SERVE creole in bowls over rice.

Nutrition information: 315 calories, 4 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 73 milligrams cholesterol, 34 grams protein, 38 grams total carbohydrates, 336 milligrams sodium.

Shepherd's Pie

Makes 8 servings. Source: WVUES Family Nutrition Program.

     1     pound cooked ground turkey or lean ground beef

     1    to 2 cans of corn, or 2 to 3 cups fresh corn

     1    can low-sodium cream of mushroom soup

     1    cup low-fat shredded cheese (optional)

     6    to 8 peeled and boiled potatoes, mashed

PLACE cooked meat on the bottom of a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish. Layer corn on top of meat. Spread cream of mushroom soup on the corn. Layer shredded cheese, if desired. Spread mashed potatoes on top.

BAKE at 350° for 20 to 30 minutes.

Nutrition information: 285 calories, 9 grams total fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 53 milligrams cholesterol, 17 grams protein, 35 grams total carbohydrates, 145 milligrams sodium.

Quick Veggie Lasagna

Makes 10 servings. Source: WVUES Family Nutrition Program.

     1    16-ounce box of lasagna noodles, uncooked

     1     carton 16-ounce fat-free cottage cheese or ricotta cheese

     1/2  cup Parmesan cheese, divided

     1     tablespoon parsley flakes

     1/4     teaspoon oregano

     1    26-ounce jar spaghetti sauce, divided

     2    cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

     1    10-ounce frozen spinach, thawed and drained

COOK noodles as directed on package.

MIX cottage cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley and oregano. Thinly spread 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce in nongreased 9- by 13-inch baking dish and top with noodles.

SPREAD 1 cup of the cheese mixture over the noodles. Cover with 1 cup of the sauce. Top with a layer of spinach. Sprinkle with 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese.

REPEAT with 4 noodles, the remaining cheese mixture, 1 cup of the sauce and 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese. Top with remaining noodles and sauce, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

BAKE uncovered at 350° until hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition information: 365 calories, 10 grams total fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 18 milligrams cholesterol, 21 grams protein, 49 grams total carbohydrates, 755 milligrams sodium.

Shopping list


Bell pepper


Canned fat-free cream of celery soup

Fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

Canned low-sodium cream of mushroom soup

Canned diced tomatoes

Canned corn

Spaghetti sauce

Lasagna noodles


Tomato juice

Nonfat dry milk

Chicken breasts, family pack or two to three packages

Ground turkey or lean ground beef

Frozen spinach

Frozen mixed vegetables

Fat-free cottage or ricotta cheese

Shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Parmesan cheese

Pantry staples: pepper, flour, milk, margarine, salt, olive oil, bay leaf, thyme, garlic clove, hot pepper, parsley flakes, oregano, egg

Programs and activities offered by the West Virginia University Extension Service are available to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, political beliefs, sexual orientation, national origin, and marital or family status. This material was funded, in part, by the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to people with limited income. To find out more, contact your local Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Beverly Glaze has a master's degree in human nutrition and food science and is a WVU Extension specialist in the FNP adult program. Reach her at or 304-634-8449.


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