Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Korean Beef Bowl


This dish came highly recommended by my friend Jenn, and Darin threw this meal together earlier this week. It was easy and super tasty! I love easy Asian-inspired dishes, and this fit the bill exactly. All the ingredients are straight forward, we had them on hand, and it came together quickly. We both loved this dish!

Next time, we both thought we'd like to try using 93% ground turkey- we're looking forward to adding this to our meal rotation again soon.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil (we use Kadoya brand)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red-pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef (or try ground turkey)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced + extra to garnish on top
  • Cooked rice, for serving (we used Nishiki brown rice in our rice cooker- took 1.5 hours though!)


Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and ground ginger.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
  3. Add ground beef and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; drain excess fat. 
  4. Stir in soy sauce mixture and green onions until well combined, allowing to simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately over rice; garnish with extra thinly sliced green onions.

Source: As seen on Damn Delicious, who adapted from Six Sisters' Stuff

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Baked Chicken Taquitos


I had this entree prepped to make during the work week, but with Darin getting sick mid-week and me being exhausted and worn out this week (keeping my fingers crossed that I wasn't getting what Darin had), we ended up ordering out a few times this week.

Luckily, Darin is getting healthier, and I was tired of eating high in fat and sodium foods, so I ended up making this tonight and it was a hit. Darin loved it, I loved that it was relatively healthy and easy to make. It is especially easy since the meat was already prepped and cooked (I like to make a large batch in the slow cooker and freeze for meals like this.)

On another note, I love guacamole but don't always want to make it since I'm usually left to eat it all by myself since Darin doesn't care for it. In comes these single-serving guacamole by Wholle Guacamole. They are just the perfect size for dipping for a meal.



Ingredients:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened (we used reduced-fat)
  • 1/4 cup green salsa
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (we used bottled lime juice)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 green onion, sliced finely (white and green parts to equal about 2 Tbsp)
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I cook large batches of chicken in my crockpot with a little chicken broth and salt, shred it and freeze it for meals like this)
  • 1 cup grated monterey jack cheese (use pepperjack if you like a little heat) (we used 1/2 cup sharp Cheddar + 1/2 cup Monterey-Jack cheese
  • Tortillas (we used 10 flour tortillas)
  • Kosher salt
  • Cooking spray
  • Oil mister (optional)
  • Dipping "sauces"- Ranch dressing, guacamole, sour cream, and/or salsa


Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix softened cream cheese, green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. 
  3. Add chicken and cheese and combine well. You can prepare this step ahead of time (which I did – I made it the morning of). Just keep the mixture in the fridge.
  4. Working with a few tortillas at a time, place 3-4 between two damp paper towels and microwave for 30-45 seconds, until tortillas are soft and pliable and don’t crack while rolling. 
  5. Place 2 Tbsp of the chicken mixture on the lower third of a soft tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges. Then roll it up as tight as you can. (A few of mine wanted to rebel and come unrolled so I stuck a toothpick through them to keep them right and tight.) (I initially used 3 Tbsp per tortilla, and the chicken mixture ended up oozing out of the shells.)
  6. Place filled taquitos seam side down on the baking sheet, making sure they don’t touch each other. 
  7. When ready to bake, spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil mister and lightly sprinkle some kosher (coarse) salt on top.
  8. Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown. Serve immediately. 

Source: As seen on Mel's Kitchen Cafe, adapted from Our Best Bites

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cottage Ham with Green Beans & Potatoes


This was a meal made by my dear friend Mackenzie, and it was delicious! I had never heard of cottage ham before she made this meal, but we loved it so much, I ended up making it the same week.

Cottage ham is a boneless shoulder butt, and is located near the chopped ham and ham steaks in the refrigerated section (near sausages, bacon, and hot dogs at my local Kroger). Mackenzie bought 2 cottage hams, and we all agreed that the brand called "Rose" (red wrapping/packaging) was the better tasting ham.


This is a meal that is quick to assemble but will take an hour of cooking time. The longer the cottage ham cooks, the more flavor it will impart. It was delicious, and we were able to get 2 dinners out of this meal.

Add just enough water to cover the vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 large (or 2 medium onions), chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • (3) 14.5-oz cans green beans (we used  cans b/c we love green beans!), undrained
  • 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
  • Water
  • 1 cottage ham (roughly 2-3 lbs)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper 



Directions:
  1. Heat the oil in a 4-5 qt Dutch oven on medium heat. Place the chopped onions into the Dutch oven, and saute for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, and saute for 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the green beans and potatoes, and then add just enough water to cover the vegetables. Cover the Dutch oven, and allow it come to a boil (should take 10-15 minutes.)
  4. Once it starts boiling, uncover, turn the heat down to medium-low, and allow it to simmer for 1 hour. Check on the pot every so often, making sure the water hasn't completely evaporated. Add a little more water if water is getting low. (You don't want it to saute the vegetables/ham mixture.)
  5. Once cooked, season with salt and pepper.
Yield: 4 servings

Source: Adapted from Homestead Chronicles



Portugese-Style Fish Stew


We recently purchased this digital steamer, and have been using the heck out of it.

Hard boiled eggs? Check!
Steamed veggies? Check!
Steamed fish? Check!

I love that I can literally set it and forget it. Once the timer goes off, it'll just keep warm. So much better than using the oven! Not to mention, steaming fish and veggies is super easy, efficient, and healthy.

When we want to let the steamer rest for a bit, we opt to make this fish stew. Although the word "stew" is usually synonymous with long hours of cooking, this dish can be prepare on a weeknight, and is still healthy and full of flavor. You start out by sauteeing the veggies until soft, then add in the liquids and fish, cover, and voila- done! Healthy, easy, and quick are exactly what I love about this recipe.


Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp paprika (smoked or sweet)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped (roughly the same size as the chopped onions)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1-1/2 lb white, flaky fish (we use tilapia), cut into large bite-sized chunks
  • Crusty bread (optional)



Directions:
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the bay leaves and paprika and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the onion and bell peppers to the saucepan, and saute the vegetables until soft (5-10 minutes).
  3. Once softened, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes with juice, 1/2 of the cilantro, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the water and reduce the heat to medium low.
  6. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then nestle the pieces among the vegetables in the saucepan. Cover and simmer until the dish is just cooked through, 5-7 minutes.
  7. Top the stew with the remaining cilantro, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Source: Adapted from Food Network

Cherry Apple Baked Oatmeal


Darin has been loving his oatmeal in the mornings. Whole grains are a great way to start the day as they are low in fat and high in fiber and good carbohydrates. We make a large batch on Saturdays and then package them into individual plastic containers, so they are portable and easy to pack into his lunches every day.

This is a nice variation to his usual oatmeal + PB as the Craisins and grated apple add some sweetness to the oats. Make sure to grate your apple- if you dice/chop it, the apple won't get soft enough and it'll remain too crunchy for this baked dish.

Grated apple, Craisins, and almond extract gives this oatmeal a nice sweetness to it

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking oats)
  • 1/4 cup dried cherry or cranberries (we used Craisins)
  • 1 Tbsp light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 medium apple, grated
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 2 Tbsp sliced almonds (we omitted this)
  • Topping options: Vanilla yogurt, sliced almonds, additional dried fruit

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a square baking dish (8x8) with cooking spray.
  2. Combine first 6 ingredients (oats through almond extract) in a large bowl, and mix well.
  3. Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with almonds.
  4. Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes (ours was done at 45 minutes), and serve with toppings.

Source: (can't find it anymore, but it was on the internet...)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Grilled vegetable marinade

We have been trying to incorporate more vegetables daily, and while we love green beans and broccoli (the greens of choice in our household), I love grilled zucchini and yellow squash. I could eat these every single day.

My "usual" routine is to cut up the zucchini, squash, and an onion (occasionally an eggplant), add some salt and pepper, then put in several (healthy) splashes of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I was looking for something similar but different, and ran across So Tasty So Yummy's blog. She has a grilled asparagus recipe and recommended that I try that marinade. It was a little different in that it not only has balsamic vinegar, but also includes some lemon juice, soy sauce, and garlic.

This marinade was definitely a keeper! It had a little more depth to the marinade, and the vegetables turned out delicious.

Can you believe this much vegetables (raw, tossed in marinade)...
















... turn into this after being cooked? Yum.






















Ingredients
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1 yellowneck squash, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions
  1. Place all the diced vegetables into a large Ziploc bag.
  2. Add the marinade 60 minutes before cooking.

Source: Adapted from So Tasty So Yummy

Bobby Flay's Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze


While I love roasted vegetables, "roasted vegetable meatloaf" was not on my radar... until someone on one of my forums recommended this dish. I would never have tried this dish (despite the 300+ positive reviews) had it not been for her recommendation- and I would have never found my favorite turkey meatloaf. Yes, it was just that good! Don't get me wrong- when it comes to a beef meatloaf, this is still our reigning favorite. But, this one was delicious- like out of the world, I never expected this to be so darn good, delicious.
Bobby Flay's original version uses a mixture of ground chuck, veal, and pork ("meatloaf mix"), but I decided to go with ground turkey- yes it's more lean and not as flavorful, but I was told that the meatloaf would still be incredibly moist due to the roasted vegetables within. Let me tell you- it didn't sacrifice flavor or tenderness at all.

I also love that there are vegetables within this meatloaf (or for you parents, what an easy way to "sneak" in veggies), and the balsamic glaze- oh, the super delicious balsamic glaze!- you are in for a scrumptious treat!

Some notes I learned:
  • Use a Silpat or parchment paper- Balsamic is really sticky, and it leaves for an extremely sticky (and messy) if it gets onto your pan. Make sure to cover your pan well with parchment paper (don't use foil, trust me). If you've got a Silpat, use that instead of parchment paper
  • The meatloaf is rather flat- This meatloaf shape isn't your traditional hunk of meat- it is pretty narrow height-wise (look at above picture)
See how flat I am?

Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, finely diced
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped thyme leaves (I used 1-1/2 tsp dried thyme)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley (I used 2 Tbsp dried parsley)
  • 1.75-2# ground turkey (we use 93% lean ground turkey)
  • 1 cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups ketchup, divided
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium/medium-low heat. Add the zucchini, peppers, onion, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook until almost soft, 30 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Set aside to cool.
  4. Whisk together the eggs and herbs in a large bowl.
  5. Add the meat, bread crumbs, cheese, 1/2 cup of the ketchup and 2 Tbsp of the balsamic vinegar, and the vegetables; Mix until just combined.
  6. Mold the meatloaf on a baking sheet lined with Silpat or parchment paper (see notes above). 
  7. Whisk together the remaining ketchup and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl then brush the mixture over the entire loaf.
  8. Bake the meatloaf for approximately 1-1/2 hours.
  9. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Source: Adapted from Bobby Flay

Skinnytaste's Fiesta Bean Salad


If you love beans, you're going to go bonkers for this healthy salad. Beans are mixed in with cilantro, red onions, avocado, and cherry tomatoes in a cumin-lime dressing. It is so refreshing, light, and healthy! Perfect for all the upcoming BBQ parties. 

You can make this salad in advance, and add the avocados right before serving (so they don't turn brown on you).

I also like to add in some chicken (my favorite way here) to increase the protein factor. I made this over the weekend, and divided this up into (4) 1-cup(ish) servings. Can't wait to have this light and satisfying salad for lunch!

Ingredients
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice (this was approx 2 small limes for me)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 15-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 medium avocado, diced

Directions
  1. In a large bowl, combined the garlic, lime juice, oil, cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt.
  2. Add the black beans, chickpeas, tomato, red onion, and cilantro; mix well.
  3. When you're ready to eat, add the diced avocados, and serve immediately.

Source: Skinnytaste


Overnight Oats



I've been seeing this talked about a lot amongst friends. I love having oatmeal for breakfast, and while cooing oatmeal is simple, I love how creamy and filling this version is. I would call this a "suped up" oatmeal since it's more than just oats- it has tons of calcium (milk- use regular, coconut, almond- any milk you like), protein (greek yogurt, or if you're like me, I love Kroger's CarbMaster yogurt), and healthy carbs (oats!). You can also top it with nuts (walnuts, almonds, or pecans), granola, or fresh fruit. I can eat it in the morning and I feel full until lunchtime.

There are many versions out on the internet, but I think this makes a great base and you can add your own varieties to make it your favorite!

I bought these 8-oz Ball jars at Kroger

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned (not quick cooking) oats
  • 1/4 cup milk (I use almond milk)
  • 3-oz Greek yogurt (I use 1/2 of 6-oz container of Kroger CarbMaster yogurt)
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Directions
  1. The night before you plan to eat your oats, assemble all ingredients above and mix well. Seal in an airtight container.
  2. Refrigerate the mixture overnight (they will be ready in about 5 hours, but overnight is best).
  3. Wake up and enjoy the next day!

I like to top mine with...

  • Fresh fruit- Sliced strawberries, blueberries or raspberries
  • Granola
  • Nuts- Crushed pecans, almonds, or walnuts

Source: Adapted from Lauren Conrad


Mojo Criollo Pork Chops


Happy Memorial Day weekend!

This truly marks our grilling season, and today couldn't have been a better day to bust out the grill. Sunny, warm, and non humid, grilling on days like these are pretty terrific. I had bought this marinade years ago, and completely forgot about it until I passed it at Kroger doing my weekly grocery shopping.


As the bottle states, Mojo Criollo marinade is made with "garlic, onion, and citrus for tender, tasty meat and poultry." In the past, we have used it to marinade flank steak, pork chops, and fajita beef. It really makes it flavorful, and the taste is out of this world.

I love grilling pork chops with some garlic salt and pepper, but I really wanted something refreshing and different, so in went this marinade into my shopping cart. I also purchased a boneless pork loin and cut up my own pork chops (thick cut all the way), and let them marinade for almost 24 hours.

The result? The pork chops came out moist and tender with a zesty spicy/smoky flavor. I am definitely glad I let it marinate for awhile (I think at least overnight so the marinade tenderizes the meat), and I couldn't have been more pleased with the end result.



Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups Goya Mojo Criollo marinade
  • 4# boneless pork loin, cut into thick 3/4"-1" pork chops
  • Goya Adobo all-purpose seasoning

Directions
  1. In a large Ziploc bag, add the marinade and pork chops, making sure the chops are fully immersed in the marinade. 
  2. Place the Ziploc into a glass pan (just in case the bag leaks), and refrigerate for at least overnight up to 24 hours.
  3. Prepare the grill; while the grill heats up, remove the pork chops from the fridge and let it sit in room temperature for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the pork chops from the marinade (discard the marinade), season the chops with adobo seasoning, and grill it until the internal temperature reads 145 degrees. While the pork chops cook, baste it with additional marinade (don't use the marinade that the pork chops were marinating in)- it should cook in 15-20 minutes.

Adapted from Goya

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Healthy Turkey Meatloaf Muffins


These muffins were so easy, so moist, and so delicious! I love that I can bake them in a muffin pan so they are proportionate. I had 2 muffins (and D had 3). I already had this silicone muffin pan, and I love making things in it. It is so easy to remove food items, and these muffins baked up great.

Since we had extras, I placed 2-3 meatloaf muffins per plastic food container, added some canned green beans, and we had lunches ready to go for a week.

Turkey Meatloaf Muffins
Yields: 12 muffins, 6 servings (2 muffins/serving)

Ingredients
  • 1.25# ground turkey
  • 2/3 cup oats 
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 package Knorr vegetable mix (I find this in the soup aisle of my local grocery store)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion or grated
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 12-15 tsp ketchup (1 tsp per muffin top)

Directions
  1. Mix all ingredients together and put in either a 9x5 meatloaf pan or a muffin tray. (If you use a muffin tray that isn't made of silicone, make sure to spray each well with cooking spray.) I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to fill each muffin well- it was the perfect amount!
  2. Put 1 tsp ketchup on top each meatloaf muffin and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. 
  3. Serve with veggies. You can also serve with a different carb, but keep in mind the oats in the recipe already do add a little carbs to the meatloaf, so do not eat quite a full serving of whatever carb you choose. 

Nutrition stats per serving (2 muffins): 195 calories, 17g protein, 18g carbs, 7g fat

Yields: 12 muffins (16-17 muffins if you use 1.75# ground turkey)

Source: Adapted from BFL party

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Beef & Cheese Manicotti


Darin loved manicotti, and I wanted to make something special for him for Christmas dinner. I read through reviews online, and adjusted the recipe according to them. The outcome was fantastic!

Many reviewers mentioned an all-beef mixture was too bland, so I did a 50/50 mixture of ground chuck and spicy sausage = lots of flavor. Also, make sure to use a good quality spaghetti sauce (I used Emeril's, and loved it), and it was crucial to the final taste of this dish. We paired this Texas Toast, and was in carb heaven.


Tip: Many reviewed said they placed the cheat/meat mixture into a quart-sized Ziploc bag, cut a corner of it, and filled the manicotti shells. The mixture seemed too thick for me to "pipe" the shells easily, so I just stuffed it myself. I also had a little bit of the cheese/meat mixture left, and just placed it on top of the stuffed pastas.

Ingredients

  • 3 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2# ground chuck
  • 1/2# spicy sausage roll (we used Bob Evans' spicy sausage roll)
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 8-oz package manicotti
  • 15-oz container whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 24-32 oz jar marinara sauce
  • 2 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces

Directions
  1. Heat a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tsp olive oil, and saute the onion until tender.
  2. Once tender, add the ground beef, sausage, salt, pepper, and cook until the meats are cooked through.
  3. While the meat cooks, add water and remaining 1 tsp oil in a large pot, and cook the manicotti shells for 6 minutes (slightly softened but still very firm to the touch.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool. 
  4. Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and dried parsley. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and mix. Stir the cooled meat mixture into the cheese mixture.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Spray a 13x9 pan with cooking spray.
  7. Spoon 1-1/2 cups marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish.
  8. Fill the manicotti with cheese/meat mixture. Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layere in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over. (see "tips" above)
  9. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup Mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese over the stuffed pasta. 
  10. Dot the entire dish with the butter pieces.
  11. Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 30-35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.

Source: Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Garlic Pesto Chicken with Tomato Cream Penne


Even though I generally save more time-consuming meals for weekends, it's nice to have quick and efficient meals on busy weekends. Or even on lazy weekends such as this past one. Darin and I lounged all day (in our PJs, no less) and it was pure bliss. We got caught up on emails, surfed the web, and watched some TV (we're currently re-watching all the seasons of Friends for the 3rd time) and some movies (he voluntarily put on Step Up and enjoyed it). It was laziness at its best, and although we didn't leave the house, we still had a great time. We ended our night with this creamy pesto dish (loved the addition of pesto in here!), and a serving of apple dumplings paired with vanilla ice cream.

Note- the original recipe calls for half & half; when I tried making this the first time, it was creamy but lacked a depth of flavor. I subbed in heavy cream, and that made this dish truly stand out.

Ingredients

  • 2# boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1/2 bottle of Lawry's Herb & Garlic marinade or Italian salad dressing
  • 2 spoonfuls of pesto (homemade or we used this by Classico)
  • 8-oz penne pasta (we use 100% whole wheat)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 spoonfuls of pesto
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 8-oz tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt & pepper
  • Parmesan cheese (for topping)

Directions
  1. Place the cubed chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag. Add the marinade or salad dressing and pesto. Mix well, seal, and place in the fridge to marinate for 4-6 hours. (I marinated mine in Kraft Lite Italian salad dressing overnight.)
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, cook your chicken in a large sautepan on medium heat until it is cooked thoroughly. Set aside on a plate, and discard any remaining liquid.
  4. In the same large sautepan, add the olive oil, garlic, and pesto on medium heat. Stir until mixed.
  5. Add the chicken broth, and simmer it on medium heat until reduced by half (took 5 minutes for me.)
  6. Add the tomato sauce, heavy cream, and season with a dash of salt and pepper. Lower the heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer for 15-20 minutes (until it thickens and becomes more creamier in consistency).
  7. Once the sauce has thickened and reduced, add the cooked pasta, and top with cooked chicken. Toss to combine. 
  8. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Source: Adapted from Plain Chicken

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Charleston Cheese Dip


If you love cheese and bacon, this dip is for you. D and I both love dips, so it was a no brainer for us to choose this dip for our Thanksgiving appetizer. Warm, melted cheeses (Cheddar, Monterey-Jack, and cream cheese) mixed with crumbled bacon? We were sold, and it did not disappoint. This is best served warm, and immediately following baking. It smells and tastes delicious.

*Note- Do yourself a favor and grate your cheese (aka. don't use the pre-shredded cheese). Pre-shredded packaged cheese has a flour coating which prevents the shredded cheese from clumping together, which results in a really thick (read: non-creamy) dip from the excess flour. Take a block of cheese and grate it yourself. You're welcome in advance.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup mayo (we use the full-fat Hellman's mayo)
  • 8-oz package of cream cheese (we use reduced-fat), softened
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese*
  • 1/2 cup grated Monterey-Jack cheese*
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (we bake our bacon; no frying pan mess here!)
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper (we used several healthy dashes)
  • 8 butter crackers, crushed, such as Ritz
  • Bagel chips (you need something hearty and thick b/c the dip is thick)

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the mayo, cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, Monterey-Jack cheese, bacon, green onions, and cayenne pepper.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a shallow baking dish, such as a 9" pie pan.
  4. Top the mixture with cracker crumbs, and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven, and serve immediately with chips.

Source: Adapted from Trisha Yearwood

Ham & Swiss Puff Pastry Pinwheels


Oh yum! These pinwheels were one of the apps I made for Thanksgiving- fast, easy and filling, and these are definitely best served warm. We had a lot leftover, and they have heated up beautifully for breakfast, snacks, or even a quick app before dinner.

Ingredients
  • Puff Pastry sheets (we use this brand; 2 sheets per box), thawed*
  • Dijon mustard
  • 10 slices of good quality ham, thinly sliced (get it from the deli counter, not the pre-packaged kind)
  • 8-10 thinly sliced Swiss cheese or 8 oz shredded Swiss cheese

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or a Silpat baking mat.
  2. Unroll a thawed pastry sheet (there are 2 sheets per box), and spread a thin layer of mustard.
  3. Place your ham down the center of the puff pastry sheet.
  4. Layer with Swiss cheese (4-5 slices per pastry sheet, or use shredded Swiss).
  5. Roll up the puff pastry tightly. (Make sure to roll these tightly or else your pinwheels will be thick.) 
  6. Repeat with 2nd puff pastry sheet.
  7. Wrap it in saran wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before slicing.
  8. Slice each "log" in half, and then keep slicing each half in half until you have 16 pieces from each log. 
  9. Place the pinwheels cut-side up onto your  baking sheet, and bake for 18-20 minutes, checking on them after 14 minutes. The dough will have browned and the cheese will be bubbly inside.
* You can quick thaw it in room temperature for 30-45 minutes. I like to let it thaw in the fridge overnight for even thawing (around 4 hours).

Yield: 32 pinwheels

Source: Adapted from Mix and Match Mama