Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Basil Chicken Pasta

After Skirell and I ate way too much at the Oscar party at my parents, we needed something light and somewhat healthy.  We have been on a little pasta kick, but nothing boring.  This basil chicken pasta was so good!  I added more hot sauce than it called for, and it was perfect.  The amount of basil was good because it wasn't too much, and didn't take over the flavor of everything else.  This is definitely a recipe you can play with and add your favorite spices and ingredients.  

8 oz pasta (I used thin spaghetti)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups boneless chicken breast, cubed
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I doubled it, and used Cholula hot sauce)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until it is al dente, about 8-10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and add chicken.  Cook until chicken is no longer pink.  Add the oil and onions and cook until onions are translucent.  Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds more.  Add tomatoes, sugar, basil, salt, and hot sauce.  Reduce heat to medium and cover skillet.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is hot and tomatoes are soft.  Toss sauce with the pasta to coat. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats

I may have a slight weakness for desserts, and Skirell may have some input on the degree of my problem.  I think I had four cake batter rice krispie treats at our Oscar get together last night!  The cake batter is a new ingredient for me to use while making them, and it is going to stay.  They were so good!  It adds just a slight cake batter taste, and who doesn't love that?  I used Funfetti cake mix, then use the left over cake mix to make cookies.  My brother made me leave the cookies at their house, so they must have been good.  Enjoy!

3 tablespoons butter
1 10 oz bag mini marshmallows
1/4 cup cake mix
6 cups rice krispie cereal
1 1.75 oz container of sprinkles

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat and add marshmallows.  Stir until they begin to melt, add cake mix slowly so it gets mixed well.  Stir in cereal until it is completely covered in marshmallow mixture.  Sprinkle in half of the sprinkles and mix well.  Press into baking dish using a piece of wax paper to make them even in the pan.  Top with remaining sprinkles.  Let sit 30 minutes before cutting to allow them to cool.  

To make cake batter cookies:  Mix 18 oz cake mix, 3/4 cup vegetable oil, and 3 eggs.  Mix well, and bake on 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

On Oscar night, it is a tradition for my family to watch them together and cast our ballots for what we think will win (I didn't do so great this year and placed 5th out of 8).  We had a couple friends over this year and we all contributed with small bites for everyone to snack on.  This year I brought hot spinach and artichoke dip, a Betty Crocker recipe.  Next time I think I would add some garlic salt to give it some more flavor.  I served it with sliced cucumbers, red peppers, baby carrots, celery, and tortilla chips.  Enjoy!

1 cup mayonnaise (I used light)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 can (about 14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained, and coarsely chopped
1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and squeezed to drain
1/2 cup chopped red pepper (I used the extra pepper to serve with the dip)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used more)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese in a medium size bowl.  Stir in artichokes, red pepper, and spinach.  Spoon mixture into a 1 qt casserole dish.  Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Cover and bake about 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted (I wanted to brown my cheese a little bit so I broiled it, and kept an eye on it).  Serve warm with vegetables, chips, baguette slices, or crackers.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Linguine with Pancetta and Peas

This recipe was such a great find!  I can't wait to play with it next time, and have some fun adding different ingredients.  I think I would add some red pepper flakes to make it a little spicy, and add some more cheese.  This is a great recipe when you are short on time, or can't make it to the store.  Most of the ingredients you probably already have at home.  Enjoy!

12 oz linguine
1 tbsp olive oil
4 oz pancetta, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 10 oz package frozen peas
1/4 cup sour cream (I used light)
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more

Cook pasta according to package directions in liberally salted water.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat.  Cut pancetta into small pieces and add to pan.  Cook until fat has been rendered, about 5 minutes.  Add shallot and garlic, and cook for a few minutes longer.  Add peas and cook until tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes.

Add cooked pasta and the reserved pasta water.  Stir in sour cream and cheese; toss until melted and sauce has formed.  Serve with additional Parmesan.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Inside Out Chicken Pot Pie

Sometimes you just need a super easy recipe to make for dinner, and yesterday was one of those days.  I have been wanting to make chicken pot pie for some time, and I stumbled on this recipe.  You could totally play with it and make it your own, but I only added a couple ingredients the recipe didn't call for.  I also doubled the recipe to have leftovers for lunch.  Enjoy this comfort food meal!

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast cut up
1 (10.75 oz) can Campbell's Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (I used 98% fat free)
1 (16 oz) package frozen vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
8 hot biscuits, split
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
*When I doubled my recipe, I used 1 can Cream of Chicken and 1 can Cream of Celery

Cook chicken in a nonstick skillet until browned, stirring often.  Add salt, pepper, and garlic.  Saute for 1 minute, then add soup and vegetables.  Cover and simmer until done.  I let it simmer for about 15 minutes, until the biscuits are done.  Serve over warm biscuits.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Skirell had been craving stuffed peppers, so like the good girlfriend I am, I found a really good, healthy, and easy recipe.  They turned out great, and using just 3 peppers we had enough for left overs.  We did a side of garlic mashed potatoes which went perfectly.  I would definitely make these again when his craving returns.  Enjoy!

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 garlic, minced
1/4 onion, minced
1 tbs fresh cilantro or parsley (I used parsley)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin powder
salt to taste
3 large sweet bell peppers, washed (I did one green, red, and orange)
1 cup fat free chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato sauce (I would add a little more)
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
olive oil spray
1/4 cup reduced fat shredded cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a little olive oil spray in a medium size saute pan and head on medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, and parsley to the pan.  Saute about 2 minutes and add ground turkey.  Season with salt, garlic powder, and cumin and brown meat for several minutes until turkey is cooked through.  Add 1/4 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 cup of chicken broth, mix well and simmer on low for about 5 minutes.  Combine cooked rice and meat together.

Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise, and remove all seeds.  Place in a baking dish.  Spoon the meat mixture into each pepper half and fill it with as much as  you can.  Place all stuffed pepper halves on the baking dish and pour the remainder of the chicken broth on the bottom of the pan.  Cover tight with aluminum foil and bake for about 35 minutes.  Remove foil and add cheese.  Broil on low just long enough to slightly brown and melt the cheese.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Banana Applesauce Bread

I hate wasting fruit and vegetables, so as my bunch of bananas were getting pretty ripe, I decided to let them keep going with the plan of making bread.  I have never used applesauce while cooking before, but have always wanted to try it.  I am not trying to compete with my moms recipe, but this one is quite good!  Enjoy!

3 ripe bananas
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour

Place bananas in a large bowl and mash with electric mixer.  Stir in the sugar and let stand for 15 minutes.  Add the applesauce and eggs and beat well.  Beat in the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and vanilla, then gradually beat in the flour, mixing thoroughly.  Pour into a 9 x 5" loaf pan that has been coated with nonstick spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (baking time was a little longer for me).  Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes  before removing from the pan.  Makes 1 loaf.

Crusted Honey Mustard Chicken

Last night for dinner, Skirell and I definitely indulged and went to Stella's for burgers.  Stella's is in Bellevue, and it is just a small hole in the wall bar/restaurant.  The burgers are served on napkins, which catch all the greasy goodness.  They were so delicious, and the both of us ate for only $12!  So after last night, we had to reel ourselves back in with something healthy for dinner tonight.  I made crusted honey mustard chicken, and it turned out great!  This would be good for kids, too!  Enjoy!

2/3 cup lite honey mustard dressing
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tsp dill, freshly chopped
1 medium scallion, finely sliced
1 cup cornflake crumbs
1 lb uncooked boneless skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat a shallow pan with cooking spray.  In a small bowl, combine honey mustard dressing, salt, pepper, dill, and scallions; remove 1/3 cup and set aside.  Place cornflake crumbs in a shallow bowl.  Dip chicken into the dressing mixture, and then the cornflake crumbs; place in prepared pan.  Bake until chicken is golden and no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes.  Drizzle remaining dressing mixture (the 1/3 cup that was set aside) over chicken breasts and serve.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cilantro, Black Bean, and Corn Salsa

This year for the Super Bowl we tamed down our recipes and had some healthier options.  While that is normally not my style, I didn't regret what I was eating all day.  I have never made salsa before, and this one turned out really good.  I am not the biggest fan of cilantro, so I didn't use as much as called for.  Also, I would add 2 cans of diced tomatoes next time.  I will definitely make this again in the summer time!  Enjoy!

1 (15 oz) can yellow corn, drained
1 (15 oz) can white corn, drained
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can Italian- style diced tomatoes, drained
1 bunch finely chopped cilantro
5 green onions, finely sliced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 lime juice
1 avocado- peeled, pitted, and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste

Stir the yellow and white corn, black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, green onion, red onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a large bowl.  Gently mix in the lime juice and avocado.  Drizzle with olive oil to serve.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Love Your Broccoli Pasta

Yesterday I was on the hunt for a semi-healthy dinner.  I came across this really good looking recipe, and I may have added to it to make it a little less unhealthy.  Nonetheless, it was very good and I didn't feel terrible about eating it either.  I added 1 pound of 94%lean ground beef, but you can omit that if you would like.  It is really easy, and even the picky eaters in the family should like it.  Enjoy!

1 tbsp olive oil (omit if you add ground beef)
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
2 cans (14.5 oz each) seasoned diced tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (I added a little more)
12 oz pasta
1 lb broccoli florets (I used frozen)

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.

Saute ground beef over medium heat.  Add garlic, once beef is cooked through, and cook gently for about 30 seconds.  Add the tomatoes, with juice, vinegar, basil, and red pepper flakes.  Increase the heat, and bring the sauce to a simmer.  Cook the sauce for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

While the sauce is simmering, add the pasta to the boiling water.  When the pasta is almost done, add the broccoli to the pot, and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Drain the pasta and broccoli, and transfer them to a large bowl.  Add the sauce, and toss well.