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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: Indulge In Smaller Portions

Don’t bring a serving dish to the table:
Spoon out portions into—or directly bake
them in—ramekins. Photo courtesy Blake’s
All Natural.

 

Healthcare professionals and everyone who’s successfully kept off weight will tell you: You don’t have to give up your favorite foods. Just eat them in small portions.

Unfortunately, we live in a “supersize me” culture. When we pay to eat out, we want our money’s worth: We’re pleased by huge portions and comment negatively on smaller ones. Research shows that, although people are more aware of the higher calorie intake of large portions, they tend to feel justified eating the amount that’s put in front of them.

But when you cook at home, your advantage is the ability to control the amount of food they prepare as well as the portion size.

With that, our tip of the day is: Make it mini.

One way to ensure smaller portions is to buy smaller muffin tins for cheesecake, cupcakes, muffins, potato and pasta dishes, starchy sides and other carb-laden treats.

 

Or, bake mac and cheese or scalloped potatoes in ramekins or parchment cups. We put our PaperChef Parchment Cups—Tulip Cups and Lotus Cups—to use. Beyond baking with ease, parchment cups are great for portion control with an attractive presentation.

Steer away from bringing a serving dish or pot to the table. Pre-fill parchment cups, ramekins or other small dishes with individual portions and bring them to the table, where everybody gets one. To avoid seconds, pack any extras from the recipes into portion-control cups and stick them into the freezer.

This recipe is by Matthew Kadey for PaperChef.com.

MINI MAC & CHEESE CUPS

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 ml) whole-grain elbow pasta
  • 1½ cups (375 ml) shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoon (about 150mL) grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) low-fat milk
  • ? cup (80 ml) plain low-fat yogurt, preferably Greek-style
  • ½ cup (125 ml) chopped sun-fried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) chopped chives
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) grainy or Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml)salt
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs
  • 12 PaperChef Tulip Cups
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the macaroni according to the package instructions, until al dente.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F.

    3. DRAIN the pasta, return it to the pot and stir in the Cheddar cheese and ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese.

    4. LIGHTY beat the eggs and stir in the milk and yogurt.

    5. ADD the egg mixture to the pasta mixture along with the sun-dried tomatoes, chives, cayenne, nutmeg, mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

    6. DIVIDE the mixture among 12 parchment cups (this recipe used PaperChef Tulip Cups).

    7. HEAT the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.

    8. STIR in the bread crumbs and cook until browned, stirring regularly.

    9. STIR the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese into the toasted bread crumbs, sprinkle over the pasta mixture and bake until set, about 15 minutes.

    10. COOL for 5 minutes before unmolding.

     

    MINI SCALLOPED POTATO CUPS

    Ingredients

    This recipe yields 12 appetizer-size servings.

  • 1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup fat-free half and half
  • 1 cup shredded Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup each sharp Cheddar and smoked Gruyère cheeses
  • 1/2 cup 1/4-inch diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup real bacon bits or crumbled pieces
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  •  

    Use ramekins to control portion sizes. Photo courtesy PotatoGoodness.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F and spray 12 small ramekins with nonstick cooking spray.

    2. PLACE potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl; cover and microwave on HIGH for 6 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile…

    3. MELT butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute more. Slowly stir in half and half, cooking until mixture is smooth.

    4. ADD cheeses, a little at a time; then stir in remaining ingredients.

    5. SPOON into prepared ramekins and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly.
     
    Do you have a favorite portion control tip? Please share!

      





    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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