Dear Jeanne: Can you help me with this recipe? It sounds delicious, and I love one-pot meals. I normally exchange the butter for olive oil, but what can I do to replace the half-and-half and maintain the consistency? I have adopted many of your lighter recipes.

Thanks so much. — A devoted reader, Joy Jones, San Antonio

Dear Joy: I love a one-pot meal, too. I like the idea of all the food groups in one pan, with fewer dishes to wash!

This revised version is quick, easy and delicious, too, even though there is only 20 percent of the fat. There is a product called fat-free half-and-half that gives you the same creamy feeling without the fat. It can't be boiled and reduced like the real thing, but it can be thickened with cornstarch. The half-and-half in this recipe doesn't need to be thickened, though, as the pasta will absorb the extra liquid.

I did not cook the vegetables as long as in the original recipe because I like them more crisp. As this makes a large serving when divided by four, this could be enough for six, and the calories would be 271, with 4 grams of fat.

CAJUN CHICKEN PASTA

12 ounces uncooked linguine

2 pounds chicken-breast strips

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided use

1/4 cup butter

1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 (8-ounce) package fresh mushrooms

2 green onions (white and light-green parts), sliced

1 1/2 cups half-and-half

1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Garnish: chopped green onions

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.

2. Sprinkle chicken evenly with Cajun seasoning and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Melt the butter in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken, and saute 5-6 minutes or until done. Remove chicken.

3. Add bell peppers, mushrooms and green onions to skillet, and saute 9-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and liquid evaporates.

4. Return chicken to skillet; stir in half-and-half, next 3 ingredients and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, over medium-low heat 3-4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add linguine; toss to coat. Garnish, if desired, and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

LIGHT AND HEARTY CAJUN CHICKEN PASTA

8 ounces whole-wheat linguine or fettuccine

1 pound chicken-breast strips

3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, divided use

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 small red pepper, thinly sliced

1 small green pepper, thinly sliced

1 (8-ounce) package fresh mushrooms, sliced

4 green onions, chopped, divided use

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup fat-free half-and-half

1. Cook the pasta in a large amount of boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Sprinkle the chicken with 2 teaspoons of the Cajun seasoning and mix until coated evenly. Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium-high. Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook for 2 minutes without stirring. When the chicken is lightly browned on one side, stir it to cook the other side (leaving it to cook without stirring helps to keep it from sticking). Cook for about 5 more minutes, or until no longer pink inside. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

3. Spray the pan again with the nonstick cooking spray and add the olive oil. Over medium-high heat, add the peppers, mushrooms and 2 of the green onions. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the lemon pepper, basil, garlic powder, remaining teaspoon of Cajun seasoning and the salt. Then add the half-and-half, bring to a boil and add the chicken. Stir until coated and warm. Add the pasta and toss to coat. Garnish with the remaining green onions.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains approximately: Original Recipe: 843 calories; 30 gm fat; 203 mg cholesterol; 1,134 mg sodium; 76 gm carbohydrates; 66 gm protein; 4 gm fiber. Revised Recipe: 406 calories; 6 gm fat; 69 mg cholesterol; 574 mg sodium; 57 gm carbohydrates; 33 gm protein; 8 gm fiber.


Jeanne Jones is the author of 33 cookbooks, most recently "Cooking From the Cupboard" (Rodale Press). For more information, you can go to her Web site, jeannejones.com. Send your recipe for revision to: Cook It Light, Deseret Morning News, P.O. Box 1212, La Jolla, CA 92038. Please include a stamped (63 cents), self-addressed envelope. © King Features Syndicate Inc.