Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chicken and Chickpea Salad

I love pasta.  Love it.  I'm sure you've figured that out, though, since I probably say that in 50% of my blog posts about pasta.

This Chicken and Chickpea Salad was not only delicious, but also my first time using Dreamfield's pasta.  Prior to this, my head threatened to explode every time I even considered spending almost $3 for less than a pound of pasta.  But finally I decided to go for it... I figured if I'm eating pasta this often, it may as well be a little good for me.

Although I could taste a slight difference, it really was pretty close to the taste of regular white pasta.  Try as I might, I cannot get myself to like whole wheat pasta, so this is a nice alternative.

I'm sure this salad will be even better in the spring and summer, but for now, it's a yummy dinner and I feel less guilty bringing the leftovers to work for lunch.

Chicken and Chickpea Salad
slightly adapted from Christine's Cuisine; originally from Get Cooking
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp. fresh chopped oregano
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 1-1 1/2 cup cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1lb pasta 
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 2-4 cups arugula
  • 1 cup tomatoes, roughly chopped

Drain and rinse chickpeas.

Combine vinegar, garlic, salt, thyme, oregano, pepper and olive oil. Whisk to mix. Stir in chickpeas, chicken, and mozzarella. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 30 min-1 hour.

Make pasta according to box directions. Drain and add to chickpea mixture.

Toss with parmesan, arugula, and tomatoes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Crustless Quiche

I decided to try to tackle some of the remaining baby weight (yes, it's been a year and a half - so what) by joining a "biggest loser" competition at work.  I'm not dieting, per se, but just trying to be a little more aware of what I eat.  Pop-Tarts for breakfast are probably not the healthiest, so I'm trying to make some subtle changes to my intake.  Hopefully, a few pounds will fall off in the process.

I was intrigued by this crustless quiche on my friend Melissa's blog, because it just seemed like a filler-upper kind of meal.  I doubled and slightly changed her recipe; not only did I have a yummy dinner, but this left me with a few days' worth of breakfasts too.

I just love how versatile it is.  You can really throw in whatever you have in your fridge or pantry - you probably always have enough stuff to make this.

Crustless Quiche
adapted from I Was Born to Cook
  • 1 cup Morningstar crumbles
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1-2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup egg substitute
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (part skim)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (low fat)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray a 13x9 baking pan.  Heat a little bit of olive oil in a skillet (or use a cooking spray) and add onions.  Cook for about 3 minutes until they begin to soften.  Add tomato, scallion, and spinach to the pan, then vegetarian crumbles.  Cook on low until onion is translucent.  Transfer to prepared baking sheet.

Beat eggs with sour cream and pepper, then add to baking pan and top with cheese.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until cooked through. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Crockpot Meatball and Veggie Stew

One of the best things about having mom-friends is that you're all in the same boat with the same priorities.  As much as we love to cook, no one wants to spend hours in the kitchen prepping dinner when there are too many games of Uno to be played or pages to be colored or Lego towers to be built.  Yet, of course, it is important to keep our families' bellies full of nutritious food.

My friend Colleen recognizes the value of the crockpot as much as I do - I'm pretty sure I've said that before!  This stew she posted a few months ago really hit the spot during a snow storm.  I served it plain, but this would go great over egg noodles!

If you want to "lighten up" this meal, use turkey meatballs instead (store-bought or homemade) and low-fat gravy.

Crockpot Meatball and Vegetable Stew
from Better Homes and Gardens
  • 1 16- to 18-ounce package frozen cooked meatballs
  • 1/2 of a 16-ounce package (about 2 cups) loose-pack frozen broccoli, corn, and red sweet peppers, or other mixed vegetables
  • 1 14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes with onion and garlic, or stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 12-ounce jar mushroom gravy
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed
Place meatballs and frozen vegetables in a 4 quart slow cooker.

In a medium bowl, stir together tomatoes, gravy, water, and basil; pour over meatballs and vegetables.

Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Crockpot Baked Sweet Potatoes

I loooove baked potatoes, especially sweet potatoes, but I just don't get home from work early enough to give them the proper baking time.  Many people have success throwing them in the microwave, but for some reason I'm too incompetent to go that route.

I was cooking a roast chicken in the crockpot today and decided I really wanted baked sweet potatoes.  I put the chicken in my 6-quart crockpot and used my new 4-quart for the potatoes.

I pretty much had zero expectations, but these were absolutely delicious.  They were cooked to almost the consistency of mashing them, which was fine with me.  Nice and comforting, they made a perfect companion to roast chicken.

(I kind of feel dumb "claiming" this as my recipe because I didn't really DO anything... also, I have no measurements because I just kind of did it without giving it much thought.)

Crockpot-Baked Sweet Potatoes
from Lauren's Kitchen
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • cinnamon
  • brown sugar
  • butter
Scrub and dry the potatoes and stab several times with a fork.  Pile into slow cooker.  Drizzle some olive oil over the potatoes and sprinkle with a couple of healthy shakes of cinnamon.  Cook on low for 6 hours.

Slice open and serve with a little bit of butter and sprinkled brown sugar and cinnamon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rotini with Cheese

I'm not a bacon fan at all, but I've recently discovered that I do enjoy turkey bacon.  I don't know if it's truly healthier, but I definitely can appreciate the flavor it adds to my meals.

My good friend Jenn made this not too long ago, and though she didn't give it rave reviews, she liked it enough for me to give it a whirl.

Mine didn't look like either Jenn's photo or Cooking Light's, but I suppose that's not unusual.  I agree with Jenn that it is "good but not great" - I do feel like it's lacking something.  I just don't know what... stay tuned for a makeover!

Rotini with Cheese
  • 3 turkey bacon slices
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • 5 cups hot cooked rotini (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
  • 3/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed

1. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Increase heat to medium-high. Add butter and oil to drippings in pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add flour, and sauté 1 minute, stirring frequently. Gradually add 1 cup milk, stirring constantly with a whisk, and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Let stand 3 minutes. Add cheeses, salt, and pepper, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

2. Place pan over low heat. Stir in bacon, pasta, and peas; cook for 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, tossing to coat.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Slow Cooked Asian Style Chicken

I say this all the time, but it's really worth repeating; there is NOTHING like working all day and coming home to a yummy-smelling kitchen where dinner is ready and waiting for us. I get embarrassingly excited when a new crockpot meal pops up in my google reader - I use the crockpot several times a week and it's so easy to get bored.

My friend Colleen has a similar love affair with her crockpot, and I know I'll love most of what she posts.  She made this with pork, but I'm not a huge pork fan so I subbed in chicken thighs instead.  Delish!

Slow Cooked Asian Style Chicken
slightly adapted from Cooking This and That
  • 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1 (10-ounce) jar sweet and sour sauce
  • 1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli stir-fry vegetables (broccoli, carrots, onions, red peppers, celery, water chestnuts, and mushrooms)
  • 3 cups hot cooked rice or rice noodles 
Place chicken into 3 1/2-4 quart slow cooker. Sprinkle with tapioca; pour sweet and sour sauce over chicken in cooker.

Cover and cook on low heat for 7 to 8 hours or high heat for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. At the end of 7 to 8 hours, turn to high heat setting and stir in frozen vegetables. Cover and cook for additional 30 to 60 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Crockpot Creamy Wild Rice and Chicken Soup

Poor Ryan woke up with a fever this morning, so I had an unexpected day off with my guy. It's usually little Danny whose illnesses keep me home from work, but today was Ryan's turn.

Between the sickness and the fluffy snowflakes that fell gracefully for most of the morning and afternoon here in NJ, today was the perfect day to double-up on crockpot cooking.

On the right in the bigger pot, I set up some beef stew for dinner, and I used my brand new 4-quart for some delicious creamy soup.

This soup was so unbelievably delicious. I had two bowls for lunch (okay, FINE - three) and even ditched the stew in favor of another big bowl. This might not be the healthiest soup out there, but when it's snowing and you're fending off some kind of cold and your four-year-old has a fever, it hits the spot.

I slightly adjusted the timing/steps of this soup (the original appears below) because I cooked a whole chicken the night before and wanted to use some of that. So I set up the crockpot without the chicken, and added it when I added the roux.

Crockpot Creamy Wild Rice and Chicken Soup
from 365 Days of Slow Cooking
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 package of long grain and wild rice rice-a-roni
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups half and half (I used whole milk)
Combine broth, water, carrots, celery, chicken and rice (along with seasoning packet) in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Take out chicken and shred with two forks and then add back into slow cooker.

In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, and flour. In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour mixture by tablespoon to form a roux. Whisk in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth.

Stir cream mixture into slow cooker and then let cook on low for 15 more minutes.
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