just too easy: slow cooker rustic chicken

>> Sunday, January 31, 2010

i adapted this recipe from a really cute blog called sweet tea in texas.  this meal was the perfect way to wind down after a crazy week.  it took no time to prep and the crock pot does all the work for you.

1 pound chicken breast tenders
15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
15 oz can marinated artichoke hearts
1 packet dry chicken gravy mix
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
handful green olives

combine all ingredients in a crock pot (except rice); stir to combine.  cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. serve over rice and garnish with fresh parsley.  yes, it's that easy.


chowDUH: a simple and delicous broccoli chowder

>> Friday, January 29, 2010

ok ok, before you think anything, i know this looks like split pea soup - but i promise it's not. i made the mistake of pureeing it a little too much, hence the similar characteristics of baby food.  but don't let its appearance fool you - it was scrumptious! i got this recipe from eatingwell.com and you would never know that there is no cream or milk in it. there was also a nice subtle hint of heat from the cayenne pepper. definitely add this to your repertoire for those extra cold nights when all you want to do is cozy up.

1 onion, minced
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups broccoli crowns
1 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

heat evoo in dutch oven over medium-high heat.  add onion, celery and carrot. season with s&p. cook about 6 minutes, until onion begins to soften. add potato and garlic to pot and cook for another 2 minutes. stir in flour, cayenne and dry mustard. cook for 2 minutes. add broth and broccoli; bring to a boil. cover and reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 20 minutes. remove 2 cups of soup into a bowl and mash and then return to pan. now here's where i messed up - instead of doing this step, i put an immersion blender right in the dutch oven and pureed it.  note to reader - don't do what i did! 

next stir in cheddar, sour cream and s&p until heated through.  garnish with dollop of sour cream and more cheese if you please. serve alongside grilled cheese sandwiches. enjoy!

shout out to suzanne for coming up with the catchy title of this post.


easy italiano: italian baked chicken and pasta casserole

>> Thursday, January 28, 2010

last night, we enjoyed this easy pasta bake recipe from giada de laurentiis.  i tweaked it a little bit to add more nutritional value, using whole wheat pasta and adding frozen spinach.  next time, i think i will add more chicken and maybe fresh basil to give it more flavor. overall, it was quite tasty and very filling.

2.5 cups whole wheat rotini
2 chicken breasts, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup jarred pasta sauce
1 cup thawed frozen spinach
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon butter

preheat the oven to 400 degrees. cook pasta according to package. when finished, place in mixing bowl. meanwhile, put the evoo in a medium saute pan over medium heat. add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. add chicken mixture to pasta in mixing bowl. add the canned tomatoes, spinach, jarred pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan, parsley, and s&p. stir to combine. place the mixture in greased small baking dish.  sprinkle top with breadcrumbs and remaining parmesan cheese. dot the top with small bits of butter and bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. bon appetito!

a close up view...look at all the cheese!


pass the peas please: balsamic chicken with peas and couscous

>> Tuesday, January 26, 2010

i never thought you would hear me say the words "pass the peas please." i'm really not a huge fan of them, but last night i realized we didn't have any spinach to make the original recipe, so i had to improvise with what we had.  it actually turned out quite well - the sweetness from the peas paired perfectly with the fire-roasted tomatoes and the tanginess of the balsamic vinegar and capers.

(adapted from food network)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 boneless chicken breasts
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup fire-roasted canned tomatoes with juice
2 cups whole wheat couscous, cooked
1/4 cup chick peas

heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. add evoo and garlic, cooking for 1 minute. sprinkle chicken with s&p and cook for about about 4 to 5 minutes per side. remove the chicken from pan and set aside. lower the heat to medium and add the balsamic vinegar and chicken broth to the pan and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. add the tomatoes, peas and s&p cooking for about 5 minutes.  return chicken to pan and let cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, letting the chicken absorb the juices. add capers right before serving.  after couscous has finished cooking, stir in chick peas, drizzle of evoo and s&p.

to serve, scoop the couscous on bottom of plate, making a flat layer. top with chicken and then pour on the balsamic-tomato sauce.


this week in the kitchen

>> Monday, January 25, 2010

we're cooking up lots of goodies this week.  every recipe is moderately healthy and most meals will be served with a side salad or a roasted veggie.

balsamic chicken with baby spinach and couscous
italian baked chicken and pastina casserole
broccoli cheddar chowder with grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches 
slow cooker rustic chicken

stay tuned to see how it turns out, foodies.

(photo credit - vi.sualize.us)


taking my own advice: chili rubbed steak tacos

>> Friday, January 22, 2010

earlier this week, i gave all of our male readers healthy eating advice and suggested some recipes to try. i ended up trying one of them last night but, of course, put my own spin on it. the flavor combination was absolutely perfect. the smokiness from the steak rub paired perfectly with a cool, yet spicy avocado salsa i whipped up.

2 tablespoons chili powder
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pinches cayenne pepper
1 pound top sirloin steaks cut 1-inch thick
small whole wheat tortillas
juice of half a lime
1 ripe avocado, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 cup rice
2 cups chicken stock
1 can black beans

heat small drizzle of evoo, 1 garlic clove and rice in saucepan over medium heat. let rice get toasty for about 5 minutes. add chicken stock and let come to boil. cover, turn heat down to simmer and cook for 30 to 40 minutes (depending on what directions on package say). stir in black beans and s&p when rice has finished cooking. if you have cilantro - throw that in too.

meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together chili powder, 2 cloves of garlic, salt and cayenne pepper. rub spice mixture on both sides of steaks. preheat grill pan to medium high and cook steaks for 7 to 8 minutes on each side, turning once. remove from grill and let meat sit for 10 to 15 minutes. cut into thin slices.

combine avocado, tomato, remaining garlic clove, onion, jalapeno, lime juice and s&p in serving bowl. lightly mash together until it resembles guacamole, but you should still see chunks of avocado.

to serve, warm tortillas for about 30 seconds in microwave. top with rice and beans, steak, avocado salsa and then sprinkle of cheddar cheese. you can add any toppings you like - cheese, sour cream, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes - anything that suites your fancy. olé!


biggest loser dinner: chicken cacciatore

>> Thursday, January 21, 2010

peg and i were watching biggest loser the other night and saw curtis stone make a healthier version of chicken cacciatore, ringing in at only 300 calories per serving. i played with the ingredients a little bit and was somewhat pleased with the results. something did seem to be missing - i think next i might add some red pepper flakes for more heat or maybe fresh herbs to bring out more flavors.  all in all, its a great recipe to keep on hand when you've overindulged for the day and need something light for dinner.

4 4-ounce boneless chicken breasts
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 cups sodium free diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups broccoli, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons capers
1 cup steamed brown rice to serve

heat evoo in large saucepot over medium high heat. season the chicken with s&p and sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. remove the chicken from pan and add more evoo. saute the onions, garlic and bell pepper for 5-7 minutes, until onion becomes translucent. add chicken stock and allow to reduce until almost dry. add the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, oregano and more s&p. bring to the simmer and reduce heat to low.

add the chicken back to the sauce and simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly. stir in capers.

to serve, spoon 1/4 cup of brown rice onto the center of a serving plate. place one portion of chicken on top of the rice and spoon some of the sauce and vegetables over the chicken.

click here for curtis stone's original recipe and nutritional information.


the bachelor's guide to eating healthy

>> Wednesday, January 20, 2010

a little bachelor friend of mine came to me with a dilemma.  he wants to eat healthier and enjoys cooking, but doesn't know what ingredients to keep on hand so he can whip something up quickly after work. fear no more, sis is here to help.  i've come up with a list of ingredients you should always keep in your pantry and a few recipes to get you started.  the key to making quick, easy and healthy dinners is to plan ahead and try new flavors to change things up a bit.

balsamic vinegar
dijon mustard
canned tomatoes
canned beans (chick peas, black beans, white beans)
grains and pasta (brown rice, couscous, quinoa, whole wheat pasta)
fresh and frozen vegetables (spinach, sugar snap peas, broccoli, asparagus, potatoes, bell peppers)
dried herbs (garlic and onion powder, oregano, basil, chicken seasoning, steak seasoning)
chicken broth
chicken, fish, and steak

recipes to try:
steak and pasta salad
this is a great meal to throw in anything you have in the fridge. switch up the veggies and cheese to your liking.

chili rubbed steak tacos
these tacos would be great served with simple mixture of rice, black beans and cilantro.

baked salmon with dill
serve with roasted asparagus and couscous.  mix couscous with chick peas, evoo, lemon juice and s&p.

balsamic poached chicken
this recipe takes a little bit longer, but it would great for a weekend or even a date night.  its elegant, easy and certainly tasty.

tomato soup with chick peas and pasta
serve with hearty, crusty whole wheat baguette to soak up the juices. throw in a simple side salad to round this meal out.

garlic shrimp in tomato sauce
utilize canned tomatoes and fresh herbs to create a delicious homemade sauce.  serve over whole wheat pasta.

(photo credit - vi.sualize.us)


pizza pizza!

>> Tuesday, January 19, 2010

if you recall, last week i was slated to make a delicious meal up of 3 different side dishes. i had very good intentions to actually make this dinner, but when friday rolled around, i was tired, stressed, and plain lazy.  all day, i daydreamed of gooey cheesy deliciousness that is pizza. there is something about fridays, pizza, and diet cokes that go so well together.

us chantilly folks know the only place to get a decent pizza pie is pomodoro. this isn't just any pizza we're talking about.  this is ken fagan-approved pizza. our dad grew up in queens and has had his fair share of ny pies.  he even he swears by this pizza. i might even go as far to say it is the best pizza i've ever had.

i can't pinpoint what makes it so special. perhaps it's the perfect balance of a sweet and savory sauce. or the perfectly cooked pepperonis.  or the soft cornmeal crust. oe how the first bite always melts in your mouth.  it could be the quality of the mozzarella - how it melts so heavenly and bubbles and browns in just the right spots. undoubtedly, it's the generous portions - eating two slices is really like eating four. whatever it is, well done guys. 

do you tastebuds a favor.  please go try this pizza. oh and invite me along.

(photo credit - flickr.com)


the ultimate fake out: garlic and herb tilapia, cauliflower mash and roasted broccoli

>> Friday, January 15, 2010

i call this meal the great fake out, because well, that's what it is.  take one look at this picture and it looks like you're eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes. but in fact, you're eating a nice healthy piece of fish and mashed cauliflower.  i found the recipes from cooking light and food network, but ended up tweaking it a little bit based on what we had at home.

1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon herbs de provence
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons flour
4 6-ounce tilapia fillets
1 medium head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup grated asiago cheese
1/4 cup chicken stock, more if needed
3 cups of broccoli florets

preheat oven to 450 degrees.  mix broccoli, evoo, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and s&p on baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes.

combine panko, herbs de provence, onion powder, and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder in a shallow dish. place egg in a shallow dish and place flour in another shallow dish. season fish with s&p and dredge fish in flour. next dip into egg mixture and dredge again in panko mixture.

heat evoo in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. add fish fillets and cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until browned. place fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. bake at 450° for 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily or until desired degree of doneness.

meanwhile, clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. cook in boiling water for about 10 minutes, until fork tender. drain and pat dry and place in food processor.  add cream cheese, asiago, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder (or more depending on how much you like garlic), chicken stock and s&p.  puree until smooth, with no lumps.

i promise this meal won't disappoint you.  the fish had a wonderful crunchy crust that made you feel like you were eating something bad and the cauliflower had a nice garlic taste with just a hint of sweetness.


recipe makeover: kung pao chicken and brown rice

>> Wednesday, January 13, 2010

last night i whipped up some asian sensation and it was oh so taaaaaasty. it was such a simple recipe and you can add whatever vegetable combination to you like to it.  you could even switch up the nuts and add cashews instead.  here's how i did it.

(adapted from cooking light)

2 cups of broccoli florets
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 bell pepper, cut into strips
pinch of dried ginger
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 pound chicken breast, cut into strips
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 garlic cloves, minced
2+ tablespoons chopped salted peanuts
1 cup brown rice
2 1/4 cups water

heat evoo over medium-high heat in saucepan.  add rice and cook for 2-3 minutes, letting it get toasty.  add water and let it come to a boil.  then, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.

heat evoo in a large wok over medium-high heat. add broccoli, sugar snap peas, bell pepper, ginger and red pepper flakes and cook for 4-5 minutes until vegetables are crisp, but tender. remove from pan and keep warm. add more evoo to work.  add more ginger, crushed red pepper, and chicken and cook 5 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned, stirring frequently.

combine broth, hoisin sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch and garlic in a small bowl and stir with a whisk. pour mixture into pan and let it cook for about 2 minutes until it thickens.  add vegetable mixture and cook until it is heated throughout.  garnish with peanuts.


this week in the kitchen

>> Tuesday, January 12, 2010

like everyone else, we're trying to keep things nice and lean at cotton top.  this week, i've developed a meal plan that will hopefully leave our bellies satisfied and our pants looser.  i also changed some things up - one night we're going to have a mix of different side dishes to serve as our main course. i couldn't narrow down my choices, so i just decided to pick all of them and skip the meat!

  1. healthier kung pao chicken and brown rice
  2. garlic and herb tilapia served with cauliflower mash and roasted broccoli
  3. grilled tomato and feta salad with lemon caper dressing, zucchini and goat cheese roll-ups, wheatberry salad with bacon and warm naan
stay tuned to see how it turns out later this week, foodies.

(photo credit - vi.sualize.us)


sexi mexi: grilled chimichurri chicken, roasted asparagus and black bean quinoa salad

>> Thursday, January 7, 2010

after a week of binge eating and over drinking, the girls and i decided to scale things back for our ritual weekly dinners. i had found a spicy black bean and quinoa salad on one of my favorite food blogs and i knew this would be the perfect kick start to a healthier new year. for those of you who don't know - quinoa tastes like a fluffly, nutty and crunchy grain, but its actually a seed of a leafy plant related to spinach. i paired it with roasted asparagus and grilled chicken with chimichurri sauce.  chimichurri is a green garlicky sauce that is frequently used in mexican cooking, much like pesto is used in italian cooking.  the meal turned out delicious and us gals weren't afraid to go back for seconds or, um thirds. here's how we did it:

grilled chicken with chimichurri sauce and roasted asparagus
adapted from food & wine

4 chicken breasts
1 cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes (add more if you like heat)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup evoo

heat grill pan over medium high heat. season chicken breast with evoo and s&p. cook for 4-5 minutes per side, depending on the size. making the sauce is even easier - add the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and mix until it is smooth.  to serve, drizzle a little of the sauce over the grilled chicken - best served when chicken is still warm.

now for the asparagus - heat oven to 400 degrees. coat veggies in evoo and s&p. roast for 15 minutes and you're done. season with a drizzle of lemon juice for the perfect finish!

spicy black bean and quinoa salad
adapted from lastnightsdinner

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
juice and zest of one lime
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup evoo
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and dried
1/4 cup picked fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. cover, reduce to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes and fluff with a fork. whisk the lime juice, zest, chili powder, garlic powder, cilantro, cumin and s&p. using a fork, whisk in the evoo until it becomes the consistency of a salad dressing. add onion, red bell pepper, black beans and quinoa to serving dish and mix together with dressing, stirring until evenly distrusted. this dish could be served hot, warm or cold. we liked it better hot though.


patience is a virtue: slow cook beef stew

>> Tuesday, January 5, 2010

tonight, i came home to a wonderfully smelling delight that peg had made this morning in the slow cooker. these types of recipes are best when you know you don't have a lot of time after work.  you can throw all the ingredients into the crockpot and by the time you're home, you have a delicious meal just waiting for you.  we added some extra pepper and topped it off with a little sprinkle of salty parmesan cheese.  we also served it with some sourdough bread that served as the perfect dipper.

(from myrecipes.com)

  • 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 3 potatoes, diced
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • s&p

  • directions:
  • place meat in slow cooker. in a small bowl mix together the flour, salt, and pepper; pour over meat, and stir to coat meat with flour mixture. stir in the garlic, bay leaf, paprika, worcestershire sauce, onion, beef broth, potatoes, carrots, and celery. cover, and cook on low setting for 10 to 12 hours.

doesn't it just warm your belly looking at it?


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