Monday, February 28, 2011

Recipe Swap: Chicken with Cherry Tomato Sauce

Last week I posted Sweet and Sour Chicken as my part in the Cooking Light Chicken Challenge, hosted by Lisa's Cooking Adventures.  I loved participating in her challenge and have thoroughly enjoyed the other recipes that fellow bloggers have posted.

The first recipe in the the challenge was posted by Lisa herself - Chicken with Cherry Tomato Sauce.  It looked delicious and I saved it right away, secretly bummed that it was no longer an option for the challenge.

But lo and behold, when I signed up for a Recipe Swap online, I was assigned this delicious meal.  Yay!

I didn't change too much - I did realize as I was prepping that I had NO fresh basil in the house.  How did that happen?!  I can't wait until the summer when I have to go no further than my own backyard for some fresh herbs.

Anyway.  To try to compensate, I seasoned the chicken with some dried basil before cooking, and then topped it with a little bit of reduced fat shredded mozzarella.  Delish - can't wait to try it again with real basil!

Chicken with Cherry Tomato Sauce
  • 4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 5  garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1  pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3  cup  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
Garnish: 1/4 cup small basil leaves
Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan. Add chicken; sauté for 3 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer to a serving platter. Add coarsely chopped garlic cloves to pan; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in cherry tomatoes and chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon over chicken. Garnish with small basil leaves.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Red Velvet Pancakes

I wanted to make a fun pre-Valentine's Day breakfast last weekend and attempted to make red velvet pancakes. As you can see from the photo, the "red" part didn't work out so well.

I followed my basic Bisquick recipe (2 cups, 1 cup milk, 2 eggs) and added some cocoa powder and red food coloring.

As cute as they might look, however, they weren't really that great. They were pretty dry and I had to use more butter and syrup that I would have preferred. I'm assuming this is due to the cocoa powder.

So... help me out! My recipe is below. How can I adapt it to make it better? More milk? And I'm sorry to say that I'd like to keep this a Bisquick recipe if possible. :)

Red Velvet Pancakes
a Lauren's Kitchen Original that backfired
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 10-15 drops of red food coloring
  • Optional toppings: whipped cream, butter, syrup, etc
Preheat griddle or large skillet over medium heat and grease with butter or cooking spray. Combine all ingredients. Drop onto hot skillet by the 1/3-cup-full; flip after 2-3 minutes, or until sides are firm. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken

My friend and fellow blogger Lisa started a really cool chicken challenge on Lisa's Cooking Adventures. After receiving an email from Cooking Light with 25 Healthy Chicken Breast Recipes, she decided to host a reader-participation blogging event to cover all 25 recipes.

I jumped at the idea to become involved, and pretty soon I was all signed up to make Sweet and Sour Chicken. We liked this a lot, though didn't LOVE it. It's my own doing, though, I'm sure; I've grown into a non-measurer in the kitchen. This usually works out well for me, especially when making familiar dishes, but not so much when I try something new. I definitely want to try this again soon and measure correctly to make sure that I'm balancing the yummy flavors correctly.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
from Cooking Light
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons Thai chile paste (I omitted)
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro leaves

Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle chicken with salt and black pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan. Add chicken; sauté 3 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer chicken to a serving platter. Add chicken broth, apricot preserves, and soy sauce to pan; bring to a boil. Stir. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in fresh lime juice and Thai chile paste. Spoon over chicken; garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, if desired.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chicken and Veggie Soup with Pasta and Dumplings

As much as I enjoy photography and take pride in what I am learning, I certainly recognize there are plenty of food bloggers with shots that far outshine mine. One thing I do try, however, is to not even bother taking pictures of a recipe if I don't have natural light - in the winter, of course, this means I'm doing most of the snapping on the weekends, and therefore my posting rate drops.

When I made this soup a few days ago, I initially wasn't planning on taking any pics. I figured that if the soup was that good, I'd make it again, and I would just blog about it then. After all, the days are finally starting to get longer here in the northeast!

I changed my mind, though, as soon as the spoon hit my mouth. This is just so freaking delicious that I had to share it immediately, bad photo or not.

This made a ton, which was awesome because I devoured it for lunch for a couple of days. It won't be long before I make this again, and I'll probably throw some in the freezer for the next time I'm sick.

Chicken and Veggie Soup with Pasta and Dumplings
slightly adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, March 2011
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 carrots - peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 rounded tablespoons flour
  • 6-8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 rounded tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon, dill, or parsley
  • one 8-oz box biscuit mix, batter prepared according to package directions
  • 3/4 cup tiny pasta (I used stelline), cooked
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked shredded chicken
Heat a couple of tablespoons EVOO, two turns of the pan, over medium0high heat in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add the butter to melt, then add the carrots, celery, and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots soften, 7-8 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour on the vegetables and stir for a minute, then whisk in the stock until thickened. Stir in the mustard and peas. Add a cup or so of water if necessary to reach your desired consistency.

Add the chopped herbs to the biscuit batter and combine. When the soup is bubbling, form the batter into small dumplings using two spoons or an ice cream scoop, then drop onto the surface of the soup. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook the dumplings, gently stirring occasionally, until just firm, 8-10 minutes. Gently add the chicken and pasta until warm, and serve.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mini Taco Meatloaves

Running Mama Cooks has been my new run-to blog lately.  The lovely Kelly is a busy mom with kids close in age to mine, so we're on the same page when it comes to needing a meal that is EASY to prepare.  She is also a fitness instructor, so I know she's dependable when it comes to looking for meals that are healthy.

Her Taco Meatloaf is a perfect example, and we gobbled these up.  Ryan kept giggling at the idea of meat in the muffin tins, and Danny ate these like it was his last meal.  The individual loaves are great for portion control, and are nice and easy to throw into the freezer for a last-minute lunch.

(I have an embarrassingly low tolerance for heat when it comes to food, so next time I will use a regular can of diced tomatoes.)

Mini Taco Meatloaves
  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 packet low sodium taco seasoning
  • 1 10oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies (I used RoTel), drained
  • 1 cup whole grain tortilla chips, crushed
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 2 tbs taco sauce
  • 1/4 cup salsa con queso
Preheat oven to 400

Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onions until tender.

Place tortilla chips in a ziplock bag and crush until pieces are very small. I used a rolling pin.

Mix all ingredients except for the taco and queso sauce until well combined. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and add meatloaf mixture.

Brush top of meatloaf with taco sauce

Bake for 35 minutes. In the meantime, place salsa con queso in a microwave bowl and heat until hot. Once meatloaf is sliced, drizzle hot queso over meatloaf.

serve with sour cream, chips, salsa and any other condiments you like with tacos!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Fluffy Hot Chocolate

Have you seen these adorable little marshmallows?!  If not, run run run to Target and grab a bag full of little strawberry-flavored-heart-shaped goodness.

And then come home and make this.

I happened to see this recipe for hot chocolate the same day that I found the marshmallows.  That could only mean one thing - the stars above WANTED me to have this warm snow-day beverage.

So I did.  And you should too.

I will say, however, that I was excited to throw in Christina's addition of cinnamon.  However, that wasn't a great idea considering I used strawberry-flavored marshmallows.  It wasn't bad, but it was a little... off.  So pick one - if you're using regular marshmallows, add the cinnamon for sure.

Fluffy Hot Chocolate
just barely adapted from Allrecipes, by way of A Mad Men Kitchen
  • 8 teaspoons sugar
  • 5-6 teaspoons baking cocoa
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cup marshmallows
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
In a saucepan, combine the first four ingredients.  Cook and stir over medium heat until the marshmallows are melted, about 8 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in cinnamon and vanilla.  Ladle into mugs.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sour Cream and Chicken Enchiladas

I love posting about enchiladas because, I believe, they were the first meal I ever cooked for my blog (I'm too lazy to verify the accuracy of this statement.  If I'm wrong, then it was the 2nd or 3rd.  It was very early.).  There are so many different ways you can make them, and recently I tried my hand at the Pioneer Woman's version.

Just reading her recipe, though, caused me to gain about 4 pounds and the button on my jeans to pop off.  So while these might not be straight-up diet food, I tried to lighten them up a bit.

These weren't exactly my favorite enchiladas ever, but they were certainly good enough that I would make them again.  I had a little bit of trouble with the fry-coat-roll, process though, and need to figure out how to handle that.  I found that my tortillas got too soggy and would very easily tear as I transferred from one pan to the next.

Sour Cream and Chicken Enchiladas
adapted from The Pioneer Woman
  • 12 whole Corn Tortillas
  • Canola Oil, For Frying
  • 1 can (20 Ounce) Enchilada Sauce
  • 2 cups low-fat Sour Cream
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken
  • 2 cups reduced fat Cheddar Cheese, Grated
  • 1 cup Sliced/chopped Green Onions
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • ¼ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together sour cream, green onions 1 1/4 cups grated cheddar, chicken, cumin, and cayenne pepper.

Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium heat. Heat enchilada sauce in a separate skillet or saucepan.

Using tongs, fry tortillas one at a time, for only about five to ten seconds per side (don’t allow to crisp.) Remove from oil, then dunk tortilla in enchilada sauce. Lay tortilla on a plate, then spoon a good two or three tablespoons of the sour cream mixture in the middle. Roll tortilla, then place face down in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas and sour cream mixture.

(If there’s any sour cream mixture left over, use it as a dip for tortilla chips!)

Cover the dish with the remaining cheese, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes until bubbly.

Serve immediately. Place a dollop of sour cream on each serving, then sprinkle on sliced green onions.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pizza Bagel Thins

I am in love with bagel thins.  As far as I'm concerned, they are way better than "diet" bagels, but they still only have 100 calories.  Top with some low-fat cream cheese and fruit, and you've got yourself a delicious breakfast or snack.

But wait, my friends - they are not just a morning food!  Top with your favorite pizza combos, and -poof- it's dinner time.

I love that you can be so flexible with these.  Next time I want to add spinach to these... or maybe try a Hawaiian version.  Yum.

Pizza Bagel Thins
  • 1 bagel flat
  • 2 tbs part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup cooked chicken
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese
  • dried basil
  • garlic powder
  • Parmesan cheese
Lightly toast the bagel flat. Spread with ricotta cheese. Place chicken and top with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with basil, garlic powder and a little parm. Place under the broiler with door open until toppings are heating and cheese is slightly browned.

Brownie Cheesecake Trifle for a Virtual Baby Shower

When I hear trifle, I automatically think "...a layer of ladyfingers, then a layer of jam, then custard... then raspberries, more ladyfingers, then beef sauteed with peas and onions..."

Anyone freakishly able to make references to Friends from the most random words or ideas?

Or maybe it's just me.

Anyway.  Speaking of friends, I am delighted to present not only a delicious dessert but also an exciting event.  Annie's Eats is a popular and highly regarded food blog, and I was thrilled to be asked to take part in a special blogging celebration: a virtual baby shower for Annie's next most special little treat!  Her sweet baby girl is on her way to join big brother Andrew, and what better way for bloggers to honor her upcoming arrival than to throw her a little virtual party!

Courtney from Cook Like a Champion arranged everything - please be sure to visit Cook Like a Champion and Annie's Eats to see the delicious spread!  I must admit that I feel a little star-struck surrounded by such big names in the food blog world. :)

My contribution was a Brownie Cheesecake Trifle, and this decadent treat is sure to be a big hit at any soiree.  Who can resist rich chocolatey brownies smothered with a creamy cheesecake spread?  Throw in some sliced strawberries and cool whip and sprinkle with broken Oreos and you've got yourself quite the dessert table headliner!

This is a simple dessert to prepare and is one of those dishes that you can completely customize - use blueberries instead of strawberries, or omit the Oreos, or use chocolate chip cookies instead, or add some pumpkin to the cheesecake mixture...

(Note: This feeds an army, so either scale back the amounts or invite over all your friends!)

Brownie Cheesecake Trifle
from Lauren's Kitchen
  • a batch of your favorite brownies (from a box or home-made), cooled
  • 3 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tubs of Cool Whip (you probably won't use all of it), thawed
  • 1 package of Oreos, broken but not crushed
  • 16oz strawberries, sliced
To make the cheesecake mixture, combine cream cheese, vanilla, sugar, and about 1 1/2 cup of cool whip and beat until fluffy and well-incorporated.  Taste it and adjust as needed.

And now... just start stacking it all!  I started with a layer of brownies, followed by cheesecake, strawberries, Oreos, and Cool Whip.  Repeat until you run out of room or ingredients.
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