Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.
These recipes are as well suited to the weekend cook as they are to the novice.
STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE PARFAIT
Make this as 4 small or 2 large servings; choose the glass size accordingly.
16 ounces strawberries, coarsely chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese
6 ounces nonfat vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 large graham cracker (1 rectangle or 2 squares), crushed into crumbs
1. Combine strawberries, sugar, orange juice and zest in a bowl and allow to sit at room temperature 20 to 45 minutes.
2. Beat Neufchâtel, yogurt and confectioners' sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and silken.
3. Build the parfait in clear glasses: Start with a layer of strawberries, top with the creamy cheese mixture, sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs and repeat, ending with a spoonful of cream cheese mixture topped with a strawberry. Refrigerate until serving.
Makes 2 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each (large) serving 411 calories, 12 g protein, 64 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 14 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 266 mg sodium
BANANA-BROWN SUGAR CREPES
Serve dusted with confectioners' sugar or drizzled with chocolate syrup.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup low-fat or skim milk
3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 bananas, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1. Combine flour, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Beat eggs lightly in a small bowl and whisk in milk. Slowly whisk milk mixture into flour mixture until smooth. Let stand 15 minutes or as long as overnight.
2. Cut 1 tablespoon of the butter into 8 small pieces. Melt 1 piece in an 8-inch, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir batter and pour a scant 1/4 cup into the skillet, tilting the pan to ensure the batter covers the surface evenly. Cook until the crepe is golden on the underside and can easily be lifted from the pan surface, about 1 minute. Turn the crepe over and cook until again golden on the underside, 15 to 20 seconds. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining batter.
3. To make the filling, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter with the brown sugar in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high. Stir in the bananas and cook, stirring, until bananas are completely coated. Remove from heat.
4. Place a row of the banana mixture down the center of each crepe and roll to enclose the filling.
Makes 4 servings (8 crepes).
Nutritional analysis for each serving 269 calories, 8 g protein, 35 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 11 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 211 mg sodium
This recipe makes fluffy, light pancakes.
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
3 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup nonfat milk
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons butter, divided
1. Combine the ricotta, egg yolks, orange juice and zest and milk in a bowl. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a second bowl; stir in ricotta mixture.
2. Beat egg white with a hand or stand mixture until they form stiff peaks. Stir one-third of them into ricotta mixture; gently fold in the remaining whites.
3. Melt 1 teaspoon of butter in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, spoon 1/4 cup batter into the skillet for each pancake. When bubbles appear on surface and underside is lightly browned on edges, about 3 minutes, turn pancakes and cook until underside is again browned, another 2 minutes.
Makes 4 servings (12 pancakes).
Nutritional analysis for each serving 285 calories, 13 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 11 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 404 mg sodium