When I buy a cookbook, I expect that it will offer not only unique and delicious recipes, but some intangible value-add as well – innovation, technique, cultural insight, or even nostalgia. The SkinnyTaste Cookbook far surpasses my expectations.
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My rule of thumb for buying a cookbook is that it must contain at least five recipes that I cannot live without trying AND it must offer some intangible something – innovation, technique, cultural insight, or even nostalgia – that I cannot already easily find on my shelves or on the internet.
The SkinnyTaste Cookbook far surpasses my cookbook buying parameters.
The SkinnyTaste Cookbook is the début cookbook of Gina Homolka, the personable and creative author behind Skinnytaste, a wildly successful, award-winning food blog. A home cook who has taken low-calorie cooking to a new level, Gina started “skinny-fying” her favorite recipes when she joined Weight Watchers and became dissatisfied with the dearth of truly tasty meals that fit into the plan. As she began tweaking her own favorite dishes to lower the fat and calorie content, she uncovered her secret formula for success: if you put a healthy spin on dishes you already love, you’ll feel satisfied as you slim down.
This recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu Meatballs become an instant favorite in our household. After I made it, Mr. B told me at least three times, “These meatballs are fantastic!” I have to agree.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Meatballs
- Cooking Spray or oil mister
- 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground chicken Try Isernio 95% Lean
- 1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 large egg
- 1 large clove garlic minced
- 1/5 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 ounces sliced deli ham cut into 12 pieces
- 2.2 ounces reduced-fat Swiss cheese grated
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/4 cup white wine or additional chicken broth
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup 1% milk
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a heavy baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine ground chicken, bread crumbs, parmesan, parsley, egg, garlic, and salt. Mix thoroughly, and then divide into 12 equal portions. [See "Meatball Hack"]
Roll each 1/12 portion of the ground chicken mixture into a ball. Set aside.
Put a a couple of tablespoons of grated cheese in the middle of a square of ham and fold the ham around it into a little pillow. Place the pillow on one side of the meatball and form the meat mixture around it so that the ham-n-cheese pillow is now in the middle of the meatball.
Transfer prepared meatballs to baking sheet and bake uncovered 18-22 minutes, or until no longer pink in center.
Make the sauce while the meatballs are finishing in the oven.
In a small bowl, combine wine, broth, milk, and mustard. Set aside.
Melt one tablespoon butter in skillet over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in one tablespoon flour and whisk until it begins to smell slightly nutty, about a minute.
Add liquid mixture all at once and whisk constantly. When mixture begins to thicken, remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, salt and parsley.
When meatballs have finished in the oven, transfer to skillet and toss with prepared sauce.
The [very] small changes I made include:
Breadcrumbs - The original recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs, but I found that the meatballs were far easier to form by adding an additional 1/4 cup.
Cheese - The book recipe calls for sliced cheese, but I had block cheese, so I used that. I think grating it made it easier to stuff into the meatballs too.
Meatball Pizza Hack
I use this pizza method to divide the mixture, which results in relatively uniform meatballs.
The Skinnytaste Cookbook features 150 deliciously inviting recipes, and most are accompanied by a beautiful, well-styled photograph. Recipes range from old family favorites like Fettuccine Alfredo to unique innovations like Chicken Cordon Bleu Meatballs. (See recipe below.) Instructions are easy to follow, and each recipe also includes detailed nutritional information.
Small things set this cookbook above the rest. Notably, many recipes include suggestions for brands that Gina has found work best. However, unlike so many others, these recommendations do not smack of paid endorsement, but rather simply some friendly advice from one cook to another.
Likewise, eating style is one of the things I try to be mindful of when I develop and share recipes, so I was both impressed and appreciative that each of Gina’s recipes includes a color and letter code just below the title that allows home cooks to easily determine whether the recipe is gluten-free and/or vegetarian. There are also codes for quick meals, freezer-friendly meals, and slow cooker meals.
Gina also offers practical, realistic advice about creating a healthy kitchen and lifestyle: plan ahead, take charge, dump the junk, and fall in love with real food. All things we know already, but within these pages, Gina give her readers a plan of attack. A road-map for success. At the risk of sounding too kumbaya, I found her book to be empowering. Whether you are a cookbook collector or you haven’t bought a new cookbook since the day AllRecipes hit the internet, The Skinnytaste Cookbook is well worth the investment.
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